That’s the mindset Mike “Stinger” Glenn, a former NBA player who spent 10 seasons in the pros, had to adopt when he opened the nation’s first basketball camp for deaf youth in Long Island, N.Y., more than 30 years ago. Since then, the camp has moved to Atlanta, near Glenn’s home in Snellville.
Glenn spoke to a sold-out crowd in the Townsend Center on the University of West Georgia’s campus Thursday night as part of the Richards College of Business third annual BB&T Lecture in Free Enterprise series.
Glenn, who played for the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks in the early 1980s, spoke for about an hour Thursday, with a question-and-answer session afterward. The crowd of 459 included many UWG students and professors, as well as local community and business leaders.
The former player spoke on his career and how he came to found the Mike Glenn Basketball Camp for the Hearing-Impaired, which celebrated its 33rd year this summer.
Glenn invited a friend and former basketball student to the stage to share his story.
Willie Brown, who attended the Georgia School for the Deaf, where Glenn’s father coached basketball, signed to the audience that he dreamed of going to college but didn’t know how until he went to the basketball camp, which gave him the confidence to “pursue his dreams.”
“So I found a new dream to become a professional basketball referee,” Brown signed, with Glenn interpreting. “I’ve refereed games at the high school and college levels, but I’m still working on the dream of refereeing an NBA game.”
Glenn spoke on the techniques NBA players use to reach their goals, saying confidence is one of the most important qualities a person can have, whether it’s in the business world or on the basketball court.
“You have to have the gumption to say to yourself and everyone around you that the next shot is going to go in,” he said. “You have to know what your role is and what your strengths are on a team — whether it’s a sales team or a sports team.”
Glenn, who learned to use sign language at a young age because of his father’s work, said overcoming adversity is something he and other athletes, as well as the hearing-impaired, are familiar with.
“We accept the challenge to grow through adversity no matter what,” he said. “Most people try to avoid adversity in their everyday lives, but we know you don’t get better without some tough competition.”
Glenn is also a collector of a vast collection of magazine and newspapers showcasing black athletes in American history. Part of his collection was on display in the center’s lobby before the event.
Glenn was awarded “Honorary UWG Wolf” status and a jersey in a surprise announcement at the end of the lecture.