Sammie Glorioso was a great coachBy WALTER PATTERSON,
Coach Sammie Joe Glorioso passed away on April 1, 2018. He was 85-years old. He had been the coach at Anding High School, later Bentonia High, for most of his coaching and teaching career.
When he thought he had gotten too old to hang in there with the younger generation, he became the Principal. He retired in 1985.
Coach Glorioso was a great man and a great coach. He coached everything – football, basketball, baseball, and sometimes track.
In addition to coaching, he taught four classes of history. Where he found the time to do everything he did, I will never know. But when the school bus delivered us to school each morning, his car was already there. When his players left after practice, which usually ended after five o’clock, naturally he was still there to lock up and make sure everything was ready for the next school day.
My younger brother, Buddy, and I played every sport we could. During the summer of 1957, we learned that Anding High School would have a new football coach.
We knew a barber named Glorioso, so one day when we were both getting haircuts at the Lamar Hotel, we asked him if he knew a fellow named Sammie Glorioso. "Oh, yes," he answered. "He is my nephew." He seemed very proud that his nephew had been named the head football coach at Anding High School. "I think you will like him."
Late that summer, brother Bud and I met Coach Glorioso. Even though he was only about 26 years old, he always seemed to be in charge. He had no assistant coaches, so he was left to coach 35 hard-headed country boys that included Kenneth Ketchum, Lamar Hancock, Frazier Thompson, Will Thompson, Charles Richardson, Buddy Patterson, Ronnie Kirk, me, and a host of other hard heads. To make matters worse, he had to introduce a new system to all of us which meant that we had to learn a lot of new plays.
Because our first game was in early September, he worked us hard. He was not shy about correcting us when we made a mistake. He emphasized blocking and tackling, and for those of you who have been through these drills, you know that they are not fun. He emphasized fundamentals, and he brought a play book that allowed the offense to attack the opponent from every angle. He valued speed. That’s why he loved Kenneth Ketchum and Jerry Burton. Both were speed merchants. He taught us how to throw the football, and what made things even better was that we had some guys who could catch it. Jerry Burton comes to mind.
During all of the practices, which were very hard at times, I never heard Coach Glorioso use profanity. He could dress a player down, but he never attacked the player, just his performance. If you forgot a play, then expect him to correct your mistake, and you never wanted to make the same mistake twice. As strange as it may seem, there was just no way to go half speed on a play simply because he seemingly saw everything that was going on. A running play could go to the left, and if the right end didn’t accomplish his assignment, Coach saw it.
Before every game, Coach Glorioso would often give a short speech designed not only to fire us up but to remind us how we were going to be attacked by the opposing team.
One night, we found ourselves over in Madison playing a team that was supposed to beat us handily. They had the athletes, the home field advantage, and it was their homecoming. We had just finished dressing when Coach Glorioso came into the room. He motioned for us to sit down. We were ready for the pre-game speech.
"Men," he began. "This team has already packed their bags to go to the playoffs. "With those eloquent words spoken, he turned and walked out of the dressing room.
We won that game decisively. As I recall, Kenneth Ketchum and Jerry Burton dominated the field. When the game was over, James House, our right tackle, yelled out to the opposing players, "Boys, you can unpack your bags now. We’re going home to pack ours."
Coach Sammie Glorioso influenced the lives of many of his players and even more of his students. He was dedicated to his profession, and if I had to guess, I would guess that he won more football games than any other coach in Yazoo County’s history. "He always put his teams in position to win. The rest was up to his players. That’s the way he wanted it." The young people of Yazoo County and Anding High School in particular were made better for having crossed paths with this great man and dedicated educator. He will be missed.