Brant Glover has always looked at sports as a vehicle to make look men better people in life. As a volunteer wrestling coach with the Gainesville High wrestling program for the past 12 seasons, he knew there was an opportunity to touch the lives of high school athletes, regardless of their upbringing, socio-economic status or race.
The same academic expectations he held for his two sons, Brant Jr. and Aaron, are the same results he expected from the countless athletes he helped mentor on and off the wrestling mats.
And since he’s not an educator in the classroom sense, this has always been a labor of love.
“I love wrestling — it’s my passion,” Glover said. “But my goal is to teach young men to be responsible and to show leadership as adults. I want them to be able to say, ‘Do I want something better?’”
Recently, Glover was recognized for his efforts and work as a volunteer coach by the city school system’s board of education. It marked the end of his service with Gainesville’s program in a coaching capacity, but by no means the end of his service to the community.
“Coach Glover wants kids to realize their potential in life outside of sports,” former Gainesville coach C.T. Hussion said. “He’s just an all around great guy.”
Glover was behind some tremendous results in wrestling, including helping take a team from Georgia to the AAU freestyle national championships in 2004 and placing fifth overall. He also helped churn out a number of individual state champions at Gainesville, including both of his sons, as well as Travis Hendrix and Bo Wren.
However, his true passion has been using sports to inspire young people to aspire to greatness. Glover doesn’t want kids to use a lack of their father in their own life to serve as an excuse. To grab their attention, he asked achievers in the community — doctors, lawyers and business leaders — to tell their stories and show that anything is possible.
“Not every kid is going to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer,” Glover said. “But I want kids to become the best they can be. I want them to be at the table when they’re dividing up the pie.”
Glover’s own children remember those lessons well.
“My father has always stressed the value of education,” said his youngest son Aaron, 24. “He’s tried to instill that ambition in young people to achieve, the desire to want to go to college and to want more out of their own lives.”
Glover’s own sons are a reflection of what ambition can do for young people. Brant Glover Jr., 27, is close to completion of a specialist degree in education and on the path to get a doctoral degree in the future, his father says. He’s a teacher in the Gainesville school system.
And just two years removed from a four-year stint as a wrestler at Duke University, Aaron Glover is now working in equity sales on Wall Street with the financial firm J.P. Morgan.
The same message Glover had for his sons is the same message he pounded into athletes: Winning state championships isn’t enough.
“I’ve trained kids, gone to camps and national tournaments, which has all been great,” Glover said. “But my focus has always been to use wrestling as a tool to better their lives.”
He said the freedom to work with the kids and implement his community initiative is supported first and foremost by his wife, Anita Marie Glover, along with his sons. Then on Gainesville’s campus, he says there was always a great relationship with a line of past and present coaches, including Kyle Hammond, Hussion, Rodney Potter and current coach Nick Niesielowski, helping him reach out to kids.
Glover also says Gainesville football coach Bruce Miller and athletic director Wayne Vickery were always willing to let him talk with the kids and show them there was a path to success available in life.
Under Glover, wrestlers were asked to be as fluent in the history of the Civil Rights Era as they were in how to properly orchestrate a takedown. He also asked wrestlers to care as much about respecting others and good grades as they worried about winning a county or area title.
They all worked hand in hand.
“I still remember getting to talk to the local elementary schools and teaching the lessons like learning to behave, listen to the teachers and taking school seriously,” Aaron Glover said. “It was great to see those lessons that are so important to my father resonate.”
Now that Glover has stepped down from coaching with Gainesville and moved full-time into his mentorship role as North Georgia Wrestling Association developer, his longterm goal is to set up college scholarships for students who have made a commitment to success after high school sports are in the rear view mirror.
He also wants to make sure kids who have a desire to go to college are on the right academic track.
“My dad uses that same straight-forward approach to teach wrestling that he does to teach life lessons,” Aaron Glover added. “It’s great when kids come back and let him know they see what he’s trying to convey.”