When Jim Carpenter resigned from the basketball team he started after just one season in 1979, Black Mountain Elementary School officials selected 28-year-old assistant coach Glenn Ford to lead the girls basketball program. Thirty-three seasons later, it’s safe to say they made the right choice.
What Black Mountain and countless basketball players got in Ford is a coach that is passionate about winning and the game of basketball, but is just as passionate about helping to create successful people off the court.
“I don’t want them to be just good players, but good people. I have tried to stress sportsmanship and team basketball,” Ford said. “If you are going to have a chance to win anything it has to be about the team and not the individuals.”
Ford has captured four county championships and several runner-up finishes during his lengthy career, but the 61-year-old coach is quick to credit others for his accomplishments.
“God has given me a long life of coaching, and every bit of that is attributed to him. Everything that I have accomplished I give credit to God,” he said. “Over the years I have also had some really good assistant coaches. I have always said to be a good head coach you have to have good assistants to help you do a lot of things.”
Along with his four county titles, Ford has remarkably suffered just one losing season in his 33 years on the sidelines as a girls coach. Despite that success, he insists the relationships built along the way are most important.
“Even more than coaching and being successful, the friendships that I have made mean everything in the world to me,” he said. “I have made so many friendships during those years, and I still am. I have made a lot of lifetime friends through coaching. The joy of making friends with players, coaches and parents has been a big thing for me.”
Ford is best known for his success in girls basketball, but he has built a successful boys team at Black Mountain since taking over a struggling program six seasons ago. His rebuilding effort culminated in a county seventh- and eighth-grade championship last season.
“I didn’t coach boys for a long time, and I didn’t know how I would handle it. But, it has been a lot of fun,” he said. “You just have to coach them differently.”
Ford has experienced brief stints at the high school level, serving as an assistant at Evarts under girls coach Freddie McCreary for four years and another four years assisting cousin Jerry Ford with the boys program. Though he would likely have been successful as a high school coach, it is clear Ford belongs on the middle school sideline working with children.
“I have learned that young kids are more energetic. It means everything in the world to them, and they would run through a brick wall for you. I really enjoy coaching kids that age,” he said.
While Ford admits he is probably closer to the end of his career than the beginning at this point, his love for the sport and for teaching others is as strong as ever.
“I just love coaching. When I got into it the girls job came open, so I got into girls coaching and loved it,” he said. “I have just always been crazy about the game of basketball since I was 10-years-old and I still am. I love it as much today as I did 30 years ago. It has been a good ride, and hopefully it is not going to end any time soon.”
During his time on the sidelines, Ford has had the opportunity to coach daughters Holly and Brook, but the Black Mountain coach said there are three players he hopes to have the opportunity to coach.
“I really want to coach my grandbabies,” he said referring to fifth-graders Kaleigh and Kassady Mulkey and third-grader Emma Mulkey. “If I can get Emma through to high school, I might hang it up.”
Recently Ford was instrumental in naming Black Mountain’s court after the originator of the Tigerettes, but when he finally does decide to “hang it up,” I’m sure there will be room for Glenn Ford’s name in Jim Carpenter Gymnasium.