Young: Passionate about helping

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For decades, Glenn Young would sit and watch.


He worked tirelessly as a basketball — and football — coach, and as the founder and, basically, one-man operator of the one of the nation’s premier high school tournaments, the ‘Iolani Prep Classic.

But after all the loose ends were tied up, his job was to observe and keep the wheels spinning. And right to the end, Young embraced his passion, and the prep sports world was better for it.

Young passed on in November at 74, leaving a legacy of faith, family and a living example of what relationships and work ethic can do. He may not have set out to put ‘Iolani basketball on the map, but the sight of the nation’s top teams and players — the early West Philadelphia teams sparked by Howie Evans, and later Flint Hill with 6-foot-7 gunner Dennis Scott, Montrose Christian with 6-11 bomber Kevin Durant, and much more — was mesmerizing for local fans young and old.

Former Raider player Keith Spencer spoke at Young’s memorial service on Sunday at the school chapel. Spencer was an all-state guard for the basketball team and went on to coach at Leilehua and Saint Louis. He was on the team that travelled to Las Vegas, lost handily in a tournament, and then was part of a state-championship squad at ‘Iolani.

It was that experience that spurred Young to start bringing the nation’s top prep teams to Hawaii.

“It feels very weird not to see him at the Classic this year, sitting in the corner like he usually does. He’s always about the players and his coaching staff. He’d sit there trying not to be seen,” Spencer said. “The first time I saw him, I thought, ‘Really? This guy can teach me about basketball? He said, ‘Let me show you something.’ He takes the ball, spins it around. He hits 30 free throws in a row.”

Spencer will always remember his coaching role model.

“It’s a great day for ‘Iolani and the state of Hawaii to celebrate the legacy he has left. All our young players should be thankful for what he has created,” he said.

The recently completed 2015 edition of the ‘Iolani Classic produced a brand-new champion in Sierra Canyon (Calif.), the best team in a balanced field that included schools from Maryland, Indiana, Florida and more. Young’s friendship with Nike also led to the many travels of Chinese high school teams who voyaged to the islands.

“He was doing a great thing with the school and the tournament. Wow. It’s amazing,” former Chaminade coach Merv Lopes said. “He had good vision.”

Scott LaBoy played football during Young’s years on the football coaching staff as a defensive backs coach.

“He saw the future,” LaBoy said. “Coach knew that us small guys couldn’t compete with the massive ILH teams, so what he did was surround himself with coaches and they spread the field out, threw a lot and small, speedy receivers could take on the massive teams of the ILH. That was the beginning of the run-and-shoot at ‘Iolani. To this day, Coach Young and his awesome coaching staff adapted the run-and-shoot and caused them to win state championships. Thank you, Coach.”


LaBoy switched from defensive back to linebacker during his prep playing career in the early 1980s. He credits Young and the staff for that move, which led to a college scholarship.

“We sit here with heavy hearts, but he left us with a legacy, something to celebrate,” LaBoy said.

There were times, when the grind and sweat that came with preparation were virtually done, and Young would finally get to sit, relax and watch. The former ‘Iolani computer class teacher would be involved with his cellphone, working hard, without doubt. Turns out, now and then, Coach Young was playing a video game.

“He would do that all the time,” current ‘Iolani boys basketball coach Dean Shimamoto said after the service on Sunday. “Very few people realize how much work it takes to put a tournament like this together, to have it running smoothly. These teams aren’t coming just because it’s Hawaii. They’re coming because of how the tournament is run. He takes care of them and he’s attentive to them.

Tony Dorado, the head of Nike (High School) Basketball is here. (Coach) Harvey Kitani of Fairfax is here. They respect him a lot and made it a point to show up here and that’s a credit to him. He did it all pretty much by himself and you would never know it. He was passionate about coaching and passionate about the kids he coached,” Shimamoto said.

Young’s life was about the games, and more than that, it was about providing the best opportunities for his family, coaches and players.

“He felt we need to raise the level of basketball here and that shows how much he wanted to help not just the school and his team, but the state and basketball in general. He was passionate about helping more than anything,” Shimamoto said.

“I’m sure if he were here, he’d be talking about the game last night (a close loss by ‘Iolani to CIF powerhouse Fairfax). It felt like he had a hand in it. You get the feeling that he’s around and the impact that he’s had,” Shimamoto said. “Over the 30-plus years, what he did is to help us understand that there’s another level out there. For us to see it makes us work toward it and get better.”

What began as a way to improve the quality of basketball for ‘Iolani’s teams turned into an epic destination for prep teams internationally. Raising the level of play locally was one of his dreams. Then it became reality. Hawaii’s best programs compete well with mainland competition, more than 30 years after the first Classic.

Daughter Caroline remembers a father who was compassionate. One day, her father went to a track meet to drop off shoes with the school team. He came back and grabbed one more pair.

“I’ll be back in 20 minutes,” he told her.


When he returned the second time, Caroline asked about his second trip. He told her he had noticed there was a boy at the track running with no shoes. He had come back to pick up a pair of shoes and give them to the boy.

“That was the type of thing that he did.”

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