Twenty years ago, John Glenn was a standout quarterback and linebacker for Lackawanna Trail’s first District 2 Class A championship.
Today he is still combing the football sidelines with the NFL contending Seattle Seahawks - a team that has given him a pair of Super Bowl rings.
Glenn’s journey began at Lion’s Pride Stadium in Factoryville over two decades ago, and then moved him to East Stroudsburg University.
At ESU, Glenn played basketball for two years before heading to the football field, where he was a starter on the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Division II playoff teams and helped the 2005 squad capture the Northeast Region title, advancing to the national semifinals.
“Everyday is a chance to prove myself,” said Glenn, who is now the linebackers coach in Seattle. “I try to learn as much as I can, throw in some of my own ideas, and be the best version of myself that I can be. If a person continues to grow, then they are naturally afforded opportunities.”
He continued, “Ken Norton Jr., has been very instrumental in my growth, and that has been really cool. I have been able to grow alongside him.”
Norton Jr. is the current defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, as well as a former player for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
Glenn started in the Seattle organization as a quality control coach after spending two seasons (2010-11) at the University of Washington in the same position.
“In layman’s terms, a quality control coach is kind of like an apprenticeship,” explained Glenn. “It is a start, a way in the door on the lower levels. A lot of time is spent breaking down films, and helping out the position coaches.”
Glenn has had many titles in his career, but is now fortunate to be the linebacker coach for the Seahawks.
“I love being able to come in and compete every day. I’m not caught up in the level of competition, I love every aspect of coaching at any level,” he said. “Any chance to outwork the other team, coach, opponent, or coordinator makes my day.”
He continued, “I am very fortunate to have an incredible group of guys that put in the work. They have such a great mentality to get the job done.”
Included in that group is middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who Glenn says is arguably a Hall of Famer, and a great leader. On Nov. 3, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wagner recorded a team high 11 tackles and sacked quarterback Jameis Winston in the 40–34 overtime win. Since 2012, Wagner has played in 115 games for the Seahawks and recorded 1,031 combined tackles.
Glenn also considers K.J. Wright to be one of his defensive leaders. Wright recorded an interception off Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns in a 32-28 win on Oct. 13.
“We are led by a veteran heavy squad,” said Glenn. “That all stems from them- their attitude, their desire to want to be better each game.”
In fact, Glenn enjoys his position so much, that he doesn’t see any downfalls.
“I enjoy putting in the time that comes with the grind of the season. I guess when I start to see a downfall, I will need to find a new position,” he laughed.
Glenn honestly enjoys everything about his job, including being on the West Coast. He resides in Seattle with his wife, Leigh, and sons Nathan (5), Luke (3), and Will (six months).
“Seattle is an incredible city- the food, the fanbase, it has everything a person can ask for. We have such supportive fans, and organization overall, that I really am thrilled to be a part of it. With companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, the whole city is just incredible. You go where your job takes you, and I am lucky to be here,” he said.
Glenn earned his degree in Communication Studies from ESU with an emphasis in speech communication, and he feels his degree has served him well.
“Everything we do is wrapped up in communicating, we are always in the teaching mode,” he explained.
Glenn established a relationship with Pete Carroll, then the head coach of the University of Southern California, one of the top collegiate programs in the country while at a camp in California while he himself was still in college.
While coaching in Washington, Glenn considered following offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to the University of Alabama - but not without giving a call to Carroll first.
Carroll, who became the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, called Glenn back four days later and offered him a job in the NFL.
“Imagine a boss who never tires, is always positive, enthusiastic, full of energy and thinks outside of the box, challenges you every day, that’s him,” Glenn said of Carroll. “He sets the mantra of our entire program. His leadership is unmatched, he truly cares and takes a personal interest in everyone.”
Glenn also has high praise for Steve Jervis and the Lions.
“I have a special spot in my heart for Trail football,” he said, with pride in his voice.
The current team has a big fan in the NFL coach, as Glenn’s dad, Joe, calls him every Saturday morning during the season to report on how the red-and -black team fared the night before.
“Coach Jervis has done a fantastic job coaching those boys, they have bought in and believe 100 percent in the system. Trail has always been known for its toughness, its blue collar work ethic on the field, and I am a proud Lion alum of that,” he said.
Glenn had the opportunity to speak at Coach Jervis’ junior Lion’s summer camp in July 2015, when some of the current Lion stars were in attendance.
“I remember some of the names- Rolka, Berrios, Dunckle- from the camp,” he recalled.
“Northeast Pennsylvania as a whole is a special area for high school athletes,” Glenn explained. “The communities take a vested interest in all the teams, and want to see success, and hope the kids take their talents to bigger stages.”
Glenn went on to talk about the high quality of players Trail has produced, and wanted to extend to the team added success.
“It is really cool to see how far they have gone in these past two seasons,” he said.
Success is something Glenn is familiar with, as his family is no stranger to the professional sports world.
His grandfather, also named Joe Glenn, was a catcher for the New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, and Boston Red Sox.
“My grandfather caught Babe Ruth’s last mound appearance, and Ted Williams’ only mound appearance,” said Glenn. “He has three World Series titles with the Yankees.”
Joe Glenn is the only player in MLB history to have caught both Ruth and Williams.
John Glenn mentioned that his grandfather won the World Series in 1936, which was the year John’s father was born, and John won the Super Bowl in 2014, which was the year his son Nathan was born.
“It is a really great connection to have,” he added.
As for his advice to NEPA athletes, Glenn offers “Keep competing day in and day out. Don’t worry about the stats, it is about the competition. Just get out there and play. Play multiple sports, don’t worry about specializing on one sport. Mostly though, enjoy every moment because they become few and far between. Soak it all in”
It seems Glenn is taking his own advice as linebackers coach in Seattle, and maybe someday down the road, as
a lucky organization’s