Glidewell remembered as legendary coach, teacher

Memorial service for illustrious Borderland basketball coach

EL PASO, Texas -      A memorial service for former Texas Western player and high school basketball coach, Alvis Glidewell, drew some of the area's top coaches on Tuesday to Crestview Funeral Home on El Paso's East Side.

     Glidewell died last week at the age of 78 after complications from a stroke. The memorial was more than two hours long and in the end, Glidewell was remembered for his great contributions on the court and in the classroom.

     Glidewell was born in clovis in 1934 and he played at Texas Western from 1953 to 1957. Earlier this year, he was honored as a Miner legend during a UTEP game.

     "Great coach, great human being, great parent, great husband and a great friend," longtime Eastwood basketball coach Gary Pippen said of Glidewell, who won more than 500 games in 29 seasons at Austin and Irvin and was truly an El Paso legend. "He was without a doubt one of the greatest coaches ever to come out of El Paso."

     Longtime Montwood basketball coach Tony Harper, who has won more than 900 games himself, called Glidewell "a class act" not only on the court, but in everything he did, especially in the classroom.

     "That's good to know life is about what you teach and how you handled it, not how many points you scored," Harper said.

     Glidewell's greatest contribution to the game was his trademark full court 2-2-1 press. In the book "Forty Minutes of Hell" about former Bowie coach Nolan Richardson, who won a national championship at Arkansas in 1994, Richardson credited Glidewell with the beginnings of his "Forty Minutes of Hell" full court pressure defense.

     "Glidewell's teams were so disciplined that they could press after a missed shot," Richardson said. "That really takes total control, but his guys could do it. Not many people know about him, but he should be in somebody's hall of fame.

     Glidewell was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. But it's the influence he left behind on today's coaches, like Bowie High's Danny Celaya, who played for him at Irvin and visited him in the hospital just before his death, that is most evident.

     "He was a mentor to me," Celaya said. "I told him, coach, I gotta go, I gotta go back to school. He got my hand and he squeezed it and he told me thank you. It was tough saying goodbye to him. He shouldn't be saying thank you. I should be saying thank you to him."

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