Coolidge High School basketball reunion

Coaches and players, including Dave Glasgow on the far left, from the Coolidge High School 1998 and 1999 state champion boys basketball teams, reunite at center court at the Roundhouse on Dec. 18, 2018.

COOLIDGE — The Coolidge Bears have their eyes set on returning to the glory days of their boys basketball program, and they believe they have found the man to lead it — the one who previously took the team to the top.

Coolidge has sent ripples around the state basketball scene by hiring Dave Glasgow as their next head coach. That name should sound familiar to longtime residents, as Glasgow coached the Bears to state championships in 1998, 1999 and 2002. These titles, along with a 217-89 overall record and six region titles, led to his induction into the Coolidge High School Hall of Fame in 2016.

He left in 2004 to lead Sierra Vista Buena, where he went 354-121 and won more games than any other coach in southern Arizona during that 16-year period.

Glasgow will replace Bryan Piles, who Principal Ben Armstrong said he did not want to return after two years with the program, including one region championship. Glasgow said he had been thinking about returning to Coolidge for years after being asked by his former players, and when he saw the opening he decided to apply.

“The possibility of teaching and coaching the sons of former players and students, I think is pretty cool,” he said. “I remember when we were really good and the Roundhouse was packed. Hopefully we could get back to that again.”

Armstrong, himself a former player of Glasgow’s, said he put together a hiring committee like they always do when a coaching position goes vacant, and that committee kept an open mind. But he said it was hard to look past Glasgow’s application, particularly when that committee was filled with his former players.

“I never really thought that would be something that could happen,” Armstrong said of hiring Glasgow. “There’s always a pipe dream that maybe he’d come back. But if someone told me when I became principal that Dave Glasgow would be your basketball coach, I never would have believed it.”

Coolidge isn’t getting a coach on a downward slope, either. In the 2019-20 season, Buena was ranked fifth in 5A, two divisions up from Coolidge, and reached the quarterfinal for a 23-4 season. In December, Buena came to Casa Grande for the Central Arizona Holiday Classic tournament and won the championship.

The Bears will hope for a quick turnaround much like Glasgow provided at Buena, where in his first year the team improved from 5-20 to 20-10. Coolidge is coming off a disappointing season, finishing with a 9-17 record and failing to make the playoffs.

Glasgow said he has watched Coolidge the past couple years whenever they play in the same tournaments or clinics. He knows there is plenty of potential there, especially with the return of star sharpshooter Nick Harrison, who missed his entire junior season with an injured knee.

“That have some athletes, that’s for sure,” Glasgow said. “But I’m going to get them to know that they’re going to have to do things that they don’t want to do, things not expected at most 3A programs, to establish a work ethic.”

Because of the distance between Sierra Vista and Coolidge, Glasgow doesn’t think he’ll be able to implement a spring program like he normally would. He still needs to get a staff together, but he promises to be ready once he moves back into town for a full summer program that will take place for six weeks between the end of May and the end of June.

Beyond that, he is focused on rejuvenating the basketball culture all over the city, and not just among high schoolers.

Armstrong envisions a return to the days where Coolidge kids would develop as basketball players long before they get onto the middle school and high school campus. The goal is to drive the numbers of players up and foster a more competitive atmosphere.

Glasgow said he agrees, and he will be bringing back his morning summer camps for young kids. In fact, he noted that Armstrong attended his first-ever camp when the now-principal was in middle school.

If that feeder system can get back to where it used to be, Glasgow said the glory days might come back.

“Not many people see Coolidge as a big-time job, but I do,” he said. “This is my last job. I’m happy to be back, and look forward to the challenge of helping make Coolidge basketball special again.”