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Powell River Sports Hall of Fame inductee built track and field club into provincial power

Scott Glaspey supported and guided youth to high levels of competition
OUTSTANDING ACCOMPLISHMENTS: At home on the track, Powell River Sports Hall of Fame inductee Scott Glaspey enjoyed a productive coaching career, helping a number of Powell River track and field athletes to excellence.

Later this spring, Scott Glaspey will be inducted into Powell River Sports Hall of Fame to commemorate an incredible track and field coaching career.

Glaspey built Powell River Track and Field into one of the top-performing clubs in BC. He coached competitors at the provincial and national levels, who won provincial titles and a silver medal at the 1987 Pan American Games.

Glaspey started his track and field career in California, when he was in grade 11, before going on to junior college and university, competing in shot put and discus. A few years after moving to Powell River in 1971, he became involved in the local track club. A few months later, he was given an opportunity to be the head coach, with two other coaches working under him, nearly twice his senior.

After firing one of the coaches because they couldn’t get along, the team started to gel.

“We started off as being an extremely strong shot put and discus club and pretty well dominated the province from age nine up through 15,” said Glaspey.

Pivotal moment

In 1978, future Olympian Connie Polman Tuin joined the club. She was 15 or 16 years old at the time, explained Glaspey, and an instant standout.

“She came to me and said, ‘I need to be working a little bit harder, three days a week or whatever, it just isn’t enough, could you coach me more?’ and so that's how I started becoming a multi-events coach,” said Glaspey.

That question would be a pivotal moment in his coaching career.

“You do get more serious because you realize that now you’re coaching an athlete who is at the national level, and you have to have your act together,” he added.

Although they had several provincially-ranked athletes training with the track club, Polman Tuin was something different.

“All of a sudden, now you’re coaching five days a week, and that ended up morphing into six days a week and one of the days being a double practice,” said Glaspey, “so as Connie got stronger and better, it seemed like more training was the answer.”

He started to branch out, adding hurdles, long jump, high jump and javelin, and reaching out to other coaches, asking questions about how he could better support his athletes.

“We had a pretty good organization going,” he added. “We put a program together that worked really well, and we were one of the top three or four junior development track clubs in the province for several years running.”

Polman Tuin wanted to be a multi-event athlete and was quite successful as a junior right away; she was in the top two, three or four in Canada, nearly from the start.

Unlike many other athletes who got their start locally, outgrew coaching in the qathet region and moved away to pursue training and careers, Polman Tuin, except for a short trial with a university coach, stayed here and worked with Glaspey throughout her track career.

“We sent her away to university at one point, and it just didn’t work. The coach wasn’t really all that they claimed to be. It just wasn’t a good fit at all for her.”

With Glaspey’s coaching, Polman Tuin went on to compete in and win silver in the heptathlon at the 1987 Pan American Games.

School coach

Shortly after Polman Tuin retired, so did Glaspey. He dropped out of track for 10 years before getting “sucked back in” through the high school program at Brooks Secondary School while he was teaching there. Six or seven years ago, Polman Tuin joined him.

“We have a really strong track team at Brooks after about four or five years of working at it, provincially ranked teams, so now things are still going well,” he said, adding that the trick to coaching is not to do what champions do if you’re working with a young person. “Taking the kids where they’re at and what they can handle and not going past where they can handle is a key.

“A lot of coaches make the mistake of thinking, ‘I’m going to take this athlete who’s 12 and copy what a 20-year-old does.’ Well, a 20-year-old has a bunch of strength and a bunch of fitness that the 12-year-old doesn’t have and cannot possibly do the technique.”

Coaching highlights

Along with nine other inductees in the class of 2022, Glaspey will be inducted into the local sports hall of fame to celebrate his contributions to the Powell River Track and Field club, building it into one of the top-performing clubs in the province, as well as his entire coaching career.

Glaspey said he is excited about being inducted. Some athletes and builders don’t have the privilege of accepting the award while still alive and well, he added.

Looking back on his career, he said there were many memorable moments. One of his fondest was when three members from the club competed in the 1980 BC Summer Games. All three qualified for a four-by-four relay in trials, with a fourth from Courtenay.

He had them do one tough workout day each week for eight weeks to prepare them, and they won against teams that were said to be much more competitive. One of his club members finished the last leg of the relay in an unconventional way.

“He was so excited. He picked up his baton, and he threw it into the crowd, and he kind of got some grief from one of the officials. That was a really cool moment to have this team win this really exciting relay that came down to the last 15 to 20 metres.”

Glaspey said he can’t forget about Polman Tuin competing at the Pan Am Games.

“A silver medal in the Pan Am Games was obviously really exciting in the fact that you qualify for the Olympics as well and world championships,” he added. “So those are all highlights.”

He said coaching is a satisfying act, and it feels great when the athletes do well.

“It sounds weird, but it’s almost parallel to a gardener who plants a bunch of seeds and hopes that weeds don’t come up, and maybe flowers do instead, or something good to eat.”