When you’ve spent 20 years of your life in one place, it’s hard to imagine how things might be somewhere else.
You’re settled, you’re established, you’re cozy, and then bang! You’re starting over from scratch.
As long-time Hood River Valley High School Athletic Director Glenn Elliott found out a couple months ago, life has a tendency of throwing us curveballs when we least expect it.
When the Hood River County School District decided in February not to extend Elliott’s administrative contract, the 20-year school employee was forced to reevaluate.
But being a former baseball coach — a state-championship baseball coach — Elliott has plenty of experience handling even the most wicked curveballs.
“I’m trying to look at my situation like that of a kangaroo,” said Elliott, who has accepted a vice principal position at Newberg High School that begins in August. “I can’t go backward, so I might as well just keep hopping forward.”
Forever the optimist, Elliott and his wife Cindy Schubert, a vice principal at Hood River Middle School, have chosen to view this life transition as an opportunity, not a setback.
They have put their house on the market and have begun looking at schools for their two children, Shannon (6) and Shawn (2).
“It’s time for a new challenge,” Elliott said. “We’ve accomplished a lot in the past 20 years in Hood River, and now it’s time to take those experiences and make the most of them in Newberg.
“The hardest thing for me is leaving all the wonderful, supportive people I’ve worked with over the years. The connection I’ve had with coaches, boosters, parents and students is what I’ll miss most,” he said.
What the people of Hood River will miss most are Elliott’s commitment to HRV athletics, his vibrant, enigmatic personality, and his undying desire to help others.
“Glenn has an outstanding reputation everywhere he goes,” Newberg High School Principal Bill Smethurst said. “What we found out is that he has an extremely high quality of character.
“During the selection process, we talked to people throughout the Willamette Valley and the Gorge, and heard nothing but the highest praise wherever we went. For us, hiring Glenn as an administrator was an easy choice,” he said.
As a vice principal, Elliott’s duties will involve mostly curriculum and discipline issues, with little or no involvement in athletic direction — an area that has been his bread and butter during his entire tenure at HRV.
He will also have to adjust to a larger student body, which is approximately one-third larger than HRV at 1,500 students. But, for Elliott, that’s all part of the transition.
“One thing I’m looking forward to is working fewer evenings,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to working with such a team-oriented principal like Bill. Even before I went to Newberg, I thought it could be a fit. And it was.”
Similar to 1982, when he first came to Hood River from Union High School outside La Grande, Elliott was in search of a place where he could settle. He wants to make a mark as a vice principal the same way he put his stamp on the HRV athletic program over the past 20 years.
A lot has happened during that 20-year stretch, and while many of the school’s sports accomplishments can be traced directly back to Elliott, he has always taken pride in giving back to the school and the community.
“My fondest memories would probably have to be the three OSAA all-sports championship awards we won in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s,” he said. “It just shows how well-rounded our sports programs are here at HRV.”
Additional highlights Elliott pointed to were HRV’s 1989 state football championship and the three state baseball championships HRV won under his guidance in 1986, 1988 and 1990.
“In the coaching world, that was a great run,” he said of the team which also finished second to The Dalles in 1987. “The program was really dialed in back then, and our depth was amazing. We had pitching, power, athleticism, maturity, work ethic, you name it. That group was truly exceptional.”
And while Elliott extends most of the praise to the ballplayers who made it happen, his former players won’t hesitate to explain why the program reached such tremendous heights.
“It all goes back to Glenn,” said 1986 all-state outfielder David Adams, who is now the president of Hood River Little League. “Glenn was the main player in helping us realize that success, and if you look around at the local Little League teams today, his coaching style still lives on,” he said.
Most everyone who played under Elliott would agree that he was the perfect players’ coach — able to relate to every player as an individual while still maintaining a level of authority.
“We just knew when we showed up to the field, it was time to play,” Adams said. “After that, we could just go back to being normal guys.”
Another former player and lifelong friend, Mark Beam, agrees.
“Glenn was easily the best coach I ever played for,” said the 1988 HRV graduate and starting catcher who still talks to Elliott on a weekly basis. “He just had a great sense of team unity and knew how to include everyone, regardless of skill level. He never left anyone behind.”
While Elliott will soon be leaving Hood River behind, his legacy as a coach and as an athletic director will not soon be forgotten by the players, coaches, parents and co-workers he has touched over the years.
“As far as I’m concerned, Hood River is giving up one of its greatest athletic assets,” Beam said. “Newberg should consider itself lucky, because Glenn is going to excel wherever he goes."
Glenn Elliott's Accomplishments:
Hood River Valley High School Athletic Director for 19 years (one year as physical education/driver’s education teacher)
Coach of OSAA state 3A baseball
champions in 1986, 1988 and 1990
Coach of OSAA state 3A baseball runners-up in 1987
HRV A.D. during three years the school won OSAA all-sports championship awards (1989-90, 1992-93, 1993-94)
Mt. Hood Conference Athletic Director of the year in 2002