ndrew Glover’s initial instinct was to find his parents.
The game had just ended. A chaotic celebration swirled around him on the floor of the Colonial Life Arena. He scanned through the thousands of fans that were stacked in the lower bowl of the stands for just a moment before spotting his mother, Alexis, who was glowing with adoration next to his father, Cregg, who too smiled with pride.
Glover raised both of his arms triumphantly into the air in their direction. Alexis mimicked her son, lifting both of her arms to the ceiling with him before lowering them to cover her face as she fought back tears.
“How many volleyball games have I watched my mom coach?” Glover would later ask rhetorically in the tunnel of the arena. “I’ve had a dream since I was kid to be a coach just like my mom and dad. Now, to have them in the stands watching me coach, it’s so surreal. This is my dream.”
Glover, 23, is a 2014 graduate of Wando High School, where as a senior he led the boys basketball team to its only state championship. He’s spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Gray Collegiate Academy in Columbia, while taking 19 credit hours a semester to finish earning his degree from the University of South Carolina. Saturday, Gray won its second straight state championship.
“I’ve learned so much the past two years,” Glover said. “I’ve tried to take advantage of every day because I know there aren't a lot of guys my age getting opportunities like this.”
Alexis has coached Wando’s volleyball team for more than three decades. The Hall of Fame inductee and National Coach of the Year recipient is the the winningest volleyball coach in South Carolina history, a pioneer as the first to 800 wins, the first to 900 and, this season, the first to 1,000. She’s won three state championships and has coached in nine other state title games.
“She’s my biggest inspiration,” Glover said. “If I can be half the coach she is, I’ll be happy with my career. My parents are the reason why I am who I am today. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else than trying to be like them.”
Glover’s older sister, Christina, was a two-time volleyball state player of the year at Wando and, like her mother, a four-year letterman at USC. Christina has spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Dorman High School. The Cavaliers won a state championship in 2017, beating her mother’s Wando team in the title match.
Glover’s older brother, Alex, was a Shrine Bowl football player at Wando and four-year letterman at The Citadel. Cregg played college basketball at Radford and served as an assistant coach for two years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“It’s in our blood,” Glover explained. “I've always wanted to be just like them.”
Glover was captain of Wando’s 2014 title team. He averaged a modest 10 points per game that season, which his head coach David Eaton saw as a sign of maturity and advanced basketball acumen.
“He probably wasn’t getting as many shots as he deserved or would’ve liked because we were just so talented that year. But he never complained because he understood the game. He understood why we were spreading the ball and playing the way we were,” said Eaton, now head coach of Greater Atlanta Christian School in Georgia. “He was always asking questions. He always wanted to learn. And he was always ready for the big, exciting moments.”
Wando was set to collide with James Island in a pivotal region matchup early that season. Glover could sense his teammates were nervous before the game so he lightened the mood by dancing in the stands. His teammates burst out laughing. Wando won that game by 28 points. Glover later hit a game-clinching three-pointer against top-ranked Goose Creek to secure the region championship. A few weeks later, he drained a dagger three that all but secured the win in the state championship game.
“He wasn’t playing well at the beginning of that state championship game. We subbed him out and I got into him pretty hard on the bench,” said Chris Warzynski, who was then an assistant and is now the head coach at Wando. “I really didn’t have to tell him anything though. He took the hard coaching and used it to help the other guys. He calmed everybody down and we won the game. He always had the right attitude because he understood things differently than most guys.”
Alexis was cleaning out Glover’s old bedroom not long ago and found an old notebook of his from that season. It was full of different plays. Some of them were variations of what Wando was running. Others were ideas he’d drawn up himself.
“It comes to him naturally. He grew up in the gym and maybe that shaped him,” Alexis said. “He was always trying to show other players different things. He was always studying the game, even then.”
Wando returned four of five starters from its title team the following year. Glover was only missing piece. Wando never found the same chemistry, though, and was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
“We had enough talent to fill his place in the stat columns but we missed the type of person he was and what he added to the team,” Eaton said. “We battled with that all year, trying to find that same leadership. Missing Andrew Glover was a huge factor that season.”
Glover played a year of prep ball at Hargrave Military Academy after high school and then matriculated to USC Aiken for a season before transferring to Spartanburg Methodist. Injuries and concussions derailed his playing career, though Glover admitted even in high school that playing in college was really just a means to bolster his credentials toward a career in coaching.
He enrolled at USC after graduating from Spartanburg Methodist and soon landed his first head coaching job leading the Upward Stars 17U AAU team. His team went 24-14 that summer. He applied to be a volunteer student manager with the USC men’s team the following fall but was rejected by the NCAA compliance office because he was a former teammate of one of the Gamecocks’ recruiting prospects. Glover reached out to his coach at SMC, Jon Cremins, for ideas. Cremins put in a call to Dion Bethea, a former AAU coach who was building a high school program at nearby Gray Collegiate Academy.
“I didn’t really understand what or who Gray Collegiate was,” Glover said. “(Cremins) told me this would be the best avenue for me if I wanted to get real coaching experience. It’s been such a blessing that Dion and the administration took a chance on me.”
Glover embraced the grunt work of tracking statistics and cutting film his first season. He’s since transitioned into player development as he’s earned Bethea’s trust and now helps implement offensive sets and offers perspective during games.
“He’s a hard worker and he has a lot of drive to him,” Bethea said. “He’s helped us become the team we are.”
One way in particular, if you ask Glover.
“Dion’s not going to like this but I teach the guys how to shoot too,” Glover said with a laugh. “All of those threes you see, I have to take credit for that.”
He’s still young enough that he plays with the scout team against the starters, some of the top-rated prospects in the state. He assures that he holds his own but Bethea just laughs at that notion.
"That's what he tells people at least," Bethea quips.
Glover's age and personality fit well with the players. He seems to have genuinely earned their respect and, more importantly, their trust. He’s one of the first coaches on the court during timeouts and is often perched next to the guards on the bench analyzing the game with them as it progresses.
“He can relate to us in a lot different ways, recruiting, basketball, life, just anything,” said Gray senior Tommy Bruner, the Class AA state Player of the Year. “We look up to him. He’s been in college, where we’re trying to get. He’s won a state championship. We take in everything he says. He’s family.”
Family is a word often recited within Gray’s program. It's a certain level of respect that has to be earned. Glover has apparently earned that. When Gray traveled to Oceanside last December, the entire team stopped by Glover’s house for what they called a family dinner. Gray went on to win that game against Oceanside by 19 points. Bethea, unprompted, dedicated the win to Glover after the game.
“He’s family,” Bethea said that night. “I wanted this one for him and the players wanted it for him as well. He’s been a real blessing for us. I know there’s going to be great opportunities out there for him after this season. What better way than to send him off with a ring?”
Bethea’s bold prophecy that night proved true last weekend as Gray dominated Andrew Jackson by 41 points in the state championship game. It was likely Glover’s last game with Gray as he’ll graduate from USC in the spring and plans to pursue a position somewhere in college basketball.
"You watch him out there on the court and it makes you want to cry," Alexis said. "We were so nervous for him but he handles it all so well. We're just so happy to see him following his dreams and having success."
Glover met his parents in the stands after the game. They celebrated. They hugged. They took photos together. Then his natural competitive spirit slipped out.
"That’s three rings, Mom,” Glover told Alexis with a grin. "You know we’re tied now, right?"