Dan Glenn spent Thursday paying respect to the mother of three of his former Newport Harbor High volleyball players. Glenn called the mother of Jason, Russell and Anjanette Gan, "Mama Gan."
On a day like this, at Ana Gan's funeral, Glenn's decision to walk away from something he loves made a lot more sense. Family should come first.
Since 1986, Glenn has coached both the Newport Harbor boys' and girls' volleyball programs. During the stretch, Glenn led the teams to a combined 17 CIF Southern Section title appearances, winning nine of them.
Another section title run with Glenn as the coach is on pause, at least for one season with the boys.
Glenn said he decided not to lead the boys' team this spring because he wants to spend more time with his wife and four children. Glenn plans to take a one-year absence as the boys' coach, leaving open the possibility that he might be away longer.
Glenn said Steve Astor, one of his assistants last year, is going take over the head coaching duties. Athletic director Mike Zimmerman said Glenn recommended Astor to fill in, but Astor's hiring is not official yet.
What is official is Glenn's decision to step away this boys' season. The decision is one Glenn contemplated while coaching the girls in the fall.
Glenn wrapped up his 26th season with the girls' team two days after Thanksgiving.
"I focused so much on my players that sometimes I forgot about my little guys," said Glenn, referring to Hailey, 11, Jaden, 9, Tegan, 7, Brogan, 5. "They're growing up fast.
"I've just crushed my wife coaching both the girls and boys [programs]."
The kids Glenn expects to coach this spring are his own.
Glenn said he plans to be a T-ball and basketball coach, and be there for his wife, Mary.
Taylor Govaars, who played for Glenn and assisted him the past six seasons with the girls and five with the boys, believes Glenn is making the right move.
"[We're] absolutely [going to miss him], but it's something he's thought about a lot and we support him," said Govaars, who helped Glenn guide the Sailors to the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA title match, the girls' 11th section title appearance under Glenn, and the semifinals of the CIF State Southern California Regional Division I playoffs in the fall.
Glenn coached the boys for a quarter of a century, reaching six section title matches and winning two.
Almost two years ago, Glenn, who is 52, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his right eye called iris melanoma. He went on to coach the boys that spring of 2009 and the girls in the fall. The girls went on to claim section and state crowns that year.
"A couple of people said if [my decision] was because of my health. I'm really healthy right now," Glenn said. "I still do the [doctor] appointments and scans. That's part of my life."
Volleyball will still be a part of Glenn's life. He will continue to coach the girls.
While Glenn won't coach the boys during practices or matches, he will assume the role of director of volleyball at Newport Harbor. In the mornings, he will oversee the team's training.
"I'm also excited because I get to do some different things with fundraising, rebuilding our lower levels," Glenn said. "I also need to get a feel for what direction the boys' program is going. We're not getting as many guys out. I want to … recruit athletes from our school.
"We have a great guy in Steve Astor. We're going to be good. I was a little hesitant [about taking a year off] because people might say, 'He's walking away because he lost all of these talented guys from last season.'"
Astor said people assume the Sailors will be down, after losing standout Cody Caldwell, the 2011 Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year.
Astor is not one of the doubters.
Astor said the Sailors bring back a talented group, which includes 6-foot-10 junior middle blocker Kevin Rakestraw, sophomore middle blocker Clay Carr and senior libero Max Richley. The three started last year at Newport Harbor, which won its third undefeated Sunset League crown in four years and reached the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs for the second straight year.
"I'm really excited and honored to just be the next guy and take over for [Glenn]," said Astor, who has been an interim coach before when he stepped in for Lance Stewart at Laguna Beach in 2010, the same year the Breakers claimed the CIF Southern Section Division II and CIF Southern California Regional Division III titles.
"I'm just going to do the best job that I can do."