Former Medomak Valley High School softball coach Glenn Barbour passed away on Thursday, Aug. 20. He leaves behind a lasting legacy, both on the diamond and with everyone who grew to know and love him.
Coach to some, husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, and Bumpa to others, Barbour, to me, was the coach with the friendly smile. A man who loved to talk, tell stories, and joke around. Years after he ended his coaching career, if I ran into him, he always stopped to chat and share a story or two. Those who knew him were blessed, because he shared the joy of living with everyone he met.
People close to him said he would do anything for anybody. He was kind, sweet, generous, had a big heart, and was full of life, love, and laughter.
He coached varsity softball at Medomak Valley for five years, and in that short time, coached the Lady Panthers to two Eastern Maine Class B championships, in 2008 and 2009. He started with this group of girls at the T-ball level of Little League and worked his way up with them. He was a volunteer coach of a summer softball team called the Animalz.
He volunteered his first year at MVHS in 2005. In the five years he was associated with the Lady Panther softball team, they won over 60 games.
“Glenn had more enthusiasm than anyone I have ever coached with,” Richard Vannah said. “He demanded a lot from the girls and made them work hard until they got it. He loved them like his own and treated them as equals.
“He was never afraid of trying anything. I am more conservative, so we made a great team. It took us a while to figure each other out, but when we did, watch out!”
Vannah remembers Glenn giving signs to players from third base.
“The girls kept asking me what he was doing or giving for a sign, so we called timeout and got together. I said, ‘The girls can’t tell what you’re giving them for signs.’ He said, ‘I am trying to do it real fast so the other team can’t see, but I guess neither can we.’
“And then Glenn laughed, a great big belly laugh that started in the tips of his toes and reverberated the length of his body. A laugh, the big-hearted man was well known for.”
“Glenn worked hard and was determined with everything he did — work, play, and especially coaching. He would think about it all day, like all us coaches do, and come in with a new strategy every time,” Vannah said. “We made families, not teams, and played like that.
“He was a great father, husband, grandfather, coach, worker, and, most of all, friend. We had a different kind of relationship than the rest of his friends. Ours was tied to coaching. He will be missed by me more than people know.”
Kyle Santheson, whose daughter Kayla played softball for Barbour, has “many great memories” of Barbour.
“His compassion and love for his players and the game itself was unparalleled,” Santheson said. “Glenn was an unbelievable motivator. How he was able to take a team seeded eighth to the state finals, two years in a row, is still mind-boggling. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a duplicate story out there.
“He coached some unbelievable games. I guess the one that sticks in my mind is the quarterfinal against No. 1 Mattanawcook in 2009 (the second year in a row of an 8-1 matchup). It turned out to be the single most exciting game of softball I’ve ever witnessed.
“They had a dominating pitcher and the girls hadn’t seen that kind of speed all season. The game was very close throughout. I remember him pulling Kayla Vannah in the bottom of the seventh, with the game tied, sending my daughter to the circle and thinking, ‘OMG, what is he doing? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Talk about heart palpitations!
“But he always seemed to find a way to draw out every ounce of performance from his players. Five innings later, in the top of the 11th, Medomak Valley managed to scratch out a run and they held on for the win. As the girls collapsed in right field following the game, I just remember him shaking his head with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen.”
Lindsay (Ranquist) Vinal played for Barbour her sophomore year.
“He was such an amazing man and coach. … Glenn’s love and enthusiasm for the game was out of this world,” Vinal said. “He was always willing to help and encouraged you to do your best.
“Glenn would always pump us up before and during games. He was always right there when we came off the field for high-fives or pointing and clapping at us when we got on base.
“I will never forget the night we won the Class B Eastern Maine championship. Glenn hung out the window of the bus with our plaque, just as proud as he could be. Glenn will be missed by many people, and having these memories of him is something I will hold close to my heart.”
Former player Kayla (Vannah) Lyons said of her coach, “Glenn was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. His loud, beautiful personality was on display no matter the crowd. He’d light up a room with a ‘Hey bub’ or ‘How ya doin’, kiddo’ and a big, strong hug.
“Coach Barbour was like no other. I had the honor of playing for him (when) we traveled to Florida and made a run at two state titles. I remember driving to numerous games where he called me up to the front seat to chat about the lineup. I can still hear him now: ‘What do you think of this, Kay?’ and, ‘We gotta get ‘er done today.’
“Although I have numerous stories about coach Barbour, he was also a close friend of my family. My favorite story was when I was heading to Rockland for some shopping and dinner with a friend. I was gone for four hours. Glenn was there when I left and in the same exact spot when I got back, still talking softball.”
“A huge heart that was touched by many and loved by all. RIP, coach,” Lyons added.
MVHS Athletic Director Matt Lash said he was “saddened to hear about the passing of friend and former MVHS varsity softball coach Glenn Barbour.”
“The success the program had under his leadership included back-to-back regional titles, but it was the closeness of those teams and lifelong friendships that he helped foster with his own special and unique style,” Lash said. “He was able to get the girls to play hard and together for him, while having fun and with passion. That was a very special time for him, his players, coaches, and softball family.
“I vividly remember the championship runs and the incredible games they had during both postseasons. They all bought in and truly felt they would win every game. Those teams had a special ‘no quit,’ gritty mentality and that was a reflection of his personality.
“He was fiercely competitive, but a gentleman who respected his opponents and was respected by all who knew him as well. Loyal and a devoted family man who made everyone he came in contact with feel like his friend.
“Looking back I appreciate even more what he gave to those girls and what he sacrificed to do so. There were many times when I never thought I would get off the phone talking about a game or a situation he was working through with a player or team, but you knew he cared because he put so much thought and careful consideration into it. He put the kids first. Those long conversations next to his truck at the high school after dark will be greatly missed. My sincerest condolences go out to Dawna and his family.”
One of Barbour’s favorite sayings while coaching was “Get ‘er done.” He certainly lived it, day in and day out, and set the perfect example on how to live life to the fullest, and to enjoy each and every day.