By Joshua Koch
HOUSTON – In the early hours of Friday morning before school was set to start, Klein Oak High School Principal Dr. Brian Greeney walks toward the gymnasium with newly named football coach Jason Glenn.
Walking into the gym, Glenn, who served as the defensive coordinator for the Panthers last season, is met by cheers from his entire team, Klein Oak High School administration and counselors, former Klein Oak assistant principal Thomas Hensley and many others along with his wife, Terrika and children Kaidance, 14, and Jason, 9, in an impromptu mini pep rally to officially introduce him as the new head coach.
“I don’t know how he pulled it off,” Glenn said. “To be honest I was just overwhelmed and excited.”
After finishing his high school career at Nimitz, Glenn went up the road to Texas A&M where he would piece together a solid collegiate career propelling him to be a sixth round draft pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Glenn spent six years in the league, playing for the Jets, Dolphins and Vikings before retiring prior to the 2007 season.
“I never talk to the kids about the NFL,” Glenn said. “There’s a purpose behind that, not a mean purpose. What I do talk to them about in regards to the NFL I talk to them about the sacrifices I needed to make in order to get there.
“I can tell you the things I had to give up, the things I had to do, the relationships I had to let go, the relationships I had to build to get to the NFL. Because if I just tell the kids about the NFL, that’s all they would know. I want them to know the journey, the sacrifices, the things I had to give up, things I had to do to get there. It makes the NFL more understanding for them.”
Once out of the game, Glenn ventured into coaching, eventually ending up at Pearland High School.
As a part of the Oilers staff, Glenn helped guide the team to the 2010 5A State Championship.
“What I learned there is Tony (Heath) had great relationships with the administration and the community with everything he had going on there,” Glenn said about what he took away from his experience at Pearland.
Following the title season, Glenn took the opportunity to be a head coach for the first time taking over the Houston Chavez program.
In the 2011 campaign, his only year as the head coach at Chavez, Glenn guided it to a 4-6 record.
“I learned so much there,” Glenn said about his first head coaching job. “One thing that I did learn was that I wasn’t fully ready. I wasn’t fully mature enough to handle that task at that time. So it did teach me that. It taught so much about relationships in the high school coaching realm. It taught me so much,
“I just needed a way to grow and Klein Oak has given me that opportunity.”
The opportunity to do that came under longtime head coach David Smith, who brought him onto the staff as an assistant coach before promoting him to defensive coordinator.
Glenn and Smith grew close in their time together at Klein Oak, Smith taking him under his wing and “grooming” him to eventually be a head coach again.
While reflecting, Glenn said he remembered Smith believing he would leave within two years to become a head coach again.
Despite getting a couple of phone calls about potentially taking over a program, Glenn said he turned those down to stay and continue to learn all he could from Smith.
“I wanted to learn more from Coach Smith, how the kids react to him, how the community reacts to him,” he said. “I always thought I was ready. Coach Smith has been here 22 years and you need to soak up as much as I can. He was grooming me. We still have a great relationship.”
Taking over Klein Oak
Towards the end of the season, Smith stepped away from the program for personal reasons to only officially step down after the season was complete.
With the head position open, Glenn took advantage of the opportunity placing his name into the running to eventually be named the fourth head coach in program history on February 2.
“I am thrilled to be in this position that I am today,” Glenn said. “I will not take this for granted. I will not wake up every morning like this is a job. It really does not feel like a job, it’s a passion.”
It has been six years since Glenn ran a football program.
In the time since holding the top position on the staff, Glenn credits Smith for helping him grow as a coach and a father preparing him for the chance to lead a group of young men and an athletic department once again.
“Working for him he has helped become a better coach,” Glenn said. “He has taught me things about being a head coach that I needed to do, steps I needed to take. I owe him so much in this process. I don’t want it to ever be forgotten that David Smith has helped me so much to get to this point.”
The biggest reason for Glenn wanting to continuously stay at Klein Oak, since arriving in 2012 is because it’s now home.
Terrika works in the school district, Glenn said and both of their children will go through Klein Oak High School eventually and they have embraced the area as if they’ve been there their entire lives.
On top of all of that it’s also because of the players.
“I wanted to stay here because of the kids,” Glenn said. “Not because I know them but actually because I have fallen in love with all these kids.”
Glenn takes over a program that has seen success in recent years, turning in a winning record in seven of its last 10 years, with its best year being 2014 in which the Panthers went 10-4, falling in the Regional Quarterfinals to Skyline.
Piecing together the staff, Glenn said will be a process as he looks for good men who are good coaches and good teachers as well.
When asked about where he wants this program to go next year and where he envisions it in five years, Glenn said the sole focus of his program won’t be just based on winning on the field every Friday night.
“I won’t predict as far as how good we’ll be or how bad we’ll be, I won’t do that,” “What I will say is you will have a bunch of outstanding young men that will make a positive impact in society and this community. You’re going to get kids with character, going to get kids that are going to be great husbands, going to get kids that are going to be great fathers.
“Football plays a big part in my job and winning plays a huge part of my job. At the end of the day I don’t want to be known for my wins and losses, I want to be known as a coach that has made a lot of young men into productive citizens in society.”
Along with overseeing the football program, Glenn will also serve as Klein Oak’s Athletic Coordinator.
Looking across the programs, Glenn said his vision is every athlete supporting every sport to bring more school spirit and athletic spirit to Klein Oak to build the foundation for something special for years to come.
“I’m excited, I’m fired up on the inside,” he said. “I’m fired up about the whole athletic department. We’re going to support every single sport, I know I’m the head football coach but I’m also the athletic coordinator of this school. We are going to make sure we have an athletic powerhouse in every single sport.”