Leading with faith

Basketball coach guides players through playoffs
Coach Bruce Glover speaks to the varsity basketball team during their playoff game against Jordan High School. The team won 39-38.
Coach Bruce Glover speaks to the varsity basketball team during their playoff game against Jordan High School. The team won 39-38.
Rohan Parikh

Bruce Glover isn’t your typical high school basketball coach.

He worked with LeBron James. He coached Kevin Durant. He was invited to a Jordan Brand Classic.

But like everyone else, he had to start somewhere.

After graduating from Prairie View A&M University, Glover began coaching middle school Amateur Athletic Union basketball.

Story continues below advertisement

“AAU wasn’t really hot then,” Glover said. “Once I became involved, we started traveling all over the country, and I got a chance to see how the game had evolved and changed.”

Glover started receiving attention from parents of AAU players. These parents brought Glover to Episcopal and Lamar’s attention when their kids went on to those high schools, both of which he later coached at. And though his talent and parents of players brought him to these schools, Glover believes it was the Lord who led the way.

“If you’re doing the right things in life, favor is anointed,” Glover said. “My mom says ‘You walk in the light, you always have a friend,’ and my friend is the favor from the Lord. I’ve been so blessed.”

Religion is the most valued part of Glover’s four core pieces of advice for his players. The others are family, academics and basketball.

“If you live within that realm [of religion], you have a chance of being a successful person,” Glover said. “That’s all we want them [our players] to do, is be successful people.”

Religion was a staple in Glover’s family growing up, but so was discipline. Glover saw an intersection of these two ideals every Sunday morning when he took it upon himself to get up to go to church.

“[My parents] instilled discipline in us, [and ]yet they gave us all the freedom to explore and be who we really are,” Glover said. “All hard work is just sacrificing and prioritizing what’s important, so those are the things we teach with our team: teach religion, family, academics and then whatever your craft is. With us it’s basketball.”

In 2004, two years after Glover began coaching at Bellaire, Bellaire became a Nike-sponsored school. John Lucas III, a Bellaire alumni who was on Nike’s board at the time, helped the basketball team secure a sponsorship with the company.

“Man, [Nike] put our program on the national scene,” Glover said. “[The team] has been all over. We have trips to New York. The team has played in Springfield, Massachusetts in the Hall of Fame Game. It’s been fun.”

In addition to helping the team, Nike connected Glover with high school basketball players around the world from Akron, Ohio to Beijing, China, which led to him working with Lebron James at James’s academies for young basketball players and attending one of the Jordan Brand Classic games.

Nike may have opened doors for Bellaire’s team, but at the end of the day, Glover makes sure to remind players who’s in charge.

“[Glover’s coaching style] has definitely made me mentally tougher,” junior forward Jaren Brown said. “A lot of stuff he says gets to me, but I have to just let it go and keep going. He’ll get on you, but you know he just wants the best for you. He wants you to succeed. He tries to put you in a position [in which] you will do your best.”

Though Glover may come off as abrasive, Glover tries his best to push his players to new limits.

“When he speaks to you, he says it in a way that a lot of people would misinterpret as rude, but he’ll go back and emphasize what he’s trying to tell you and wants to be done,” junior forward Ejypt Gibbs said. “He has high standards for us, so I want to live up to his expectations for me, because he says he sees things in us that we don’t see in ourselves.”

After watching one of Ejypt Gibbs’s fifth grade AAU games, Glover took notice of the eleven year old and encouraged him to play for Bellaire when the time came. Even when Gibbs had a “rough transition” from middle to high school as a freshman on varsity, Glover was there to guide him.

“[Glover] has this way of showing his love and appreciation for you,” Gibbs said. “He’s very hardcore a majority of the time, but it’s tough love.”

Along with tough love, Glover coaches with an emphasis on defense.

“From the very first day, it’s always been about defense,” Brown said. “I think it’s just the type of person [Glover] is. He doesn’t want you to have the confidence that you could score on him. Defense creates offense. You need points to score. If you stop them from scoring, you’re gonna win the game. That’s really what [Glover has] been focusing on.”

Even with injuries among players, this defensive strategy took the varsity basketball team to the second round of playoffs last year.

“If we stay healthy, we really have a chance to play [past the second round],” Glover said. “I’ve had [the starting five] since they were freshmen. Now they’re understanding what it takes. We just need to stay healthy. I’m gonna speak that down in the name of Jesus that we stay off injuries.”

Glover hoped to take the team to state in 2024, especially after injuries previously held the team back.
“We’ve been to the [playoffs] game right before state twice and lost it at the buzzer so [we’ve had] really hard, really gut-wrenching losses,” Glover said. “You grow through adversity, and you build [your skills]. I’m not the same coach I was at 32 as I was at 52 [or] 62. I’m a better leader now because of the people around me.”

Glover and his assistant coaches made changes to the team’s training regiment to improve the players’ performance in games.

“This year we played fewer games than we did last year,” Gibbs said. “[There’s been] a lot of emphasis on the small things that we do: defensive transitions, making sure we’re in the right spots on offense. Just tidying up making sure we’re fundamentally sound. We’ve been in the weight room more so that way we have our bodies right.”

The team made it through three rounds of playoffs this year. Though their ultimate goal was to make it to state, Glover continues to support his team, through the wins and the losses.

“[The players] may not believe that but I am [their biggest cheerleader],” Glover said. “I want to win, but I need guys around me who want to win just as bad, if not more than I do.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Three Penny Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *