Former Colfax, Oakmont football coach fondly remembered
Glenn Poole, a well-respected coach and teacher who started football programs in the 1960s at both Colfax and Oakmont high schools and who along the way went on to have an influential impact on his players and students, died on Nov. 16 in Loomis.
According to his son Terry Poole, Glenn, who was 84 years old when he passed away, had slowed down some in recent years but about a month ago had a health setback.
“Dad had been doing pretty well for getting up there in age,” said Terry Poole. “But about a month ago he started to go downhill rapidly. We’re going to miss him.”
Glenn Poole was Colfax High’s first football coach when the school opened in 1959. He coached football, along with basketball and track, at Colfax from 1960 to 1964. He then followed Colfax High principal Ken Sahl to Oakmont in 1965 to become the first football coach at the new high school in Roseville.
At both his stops at Colfax and Oakmont, and in a varsity football coaching career that spanned from 1960 to 1974, Poole had a definite impact on his players.
“He was a hell of a leader,” remembered Harvey Krie, who played for Poole in the early 1960s on one of Colfax High’s first football teams. “He meant so much to us. He did his best to make men out of us.”
“For coach to come to Colfax and start a program at a new school was something that was unheard of back then,” Krie continued.
Dan Gayaldo, the current principal at Del Oro High, played for Poole in 1973-74 at Oakmont and fondly remembers the work ethic that Poole instilled in his teams.
“It’s been 40 years and I can still hear his voice urging us on, to do it the right way,” Gayaldo recalled.”There are things I learned from him that I put forth today with the way I raised my family. Coach was all about family.”
Poole, who grew up in Grass Valley but attended high school in Roseville, was fresh out of the military and Chico State when Sahl, Colfax High’s first principal, reached out to Poole to become the first coach for the fledging Falcons program.
“Ken had known me from Roseville and desperately needed a teacher and coach,” said Poole in a story he did with the Colfax Record in 2011 about the school’s football history. “I don’t think he had too many other choices.”
In those early years at Colfax High, Poole taught P.E., civics and math. He also coached basketball and track.
But it was in football where Poole made his mark at Colfax and at first it didn’t come easy.
In his first year at Colfax in 1960, Poole greeted 20 players for the first football practice. Of those 20, only two had any football experience.
“We had guys that didn’t know how to put on pads,” Poole recalled for the 2011 story.
In that first year, Colfax, without its own football field, had its teams bussed daily to the fairgrounds in Auburn for practices. After a while, the practices were then moved to the field at the old Colfax Elementary School, now the Sierra Vista Community Center. Sometimes, just for fun, Poole had his teams jog up Ben Taylor Road from the high school to practice at Living War Memorial Park.
At that point, according to Poole, local contractor R.J. Miles stepped in and graded a practice field — where the current Marson Field stands – and topped it off with saw dust. Players used to spend the first the first 15 or 20 minutes each day before practice picking rocks out of the saw dust.
Poole’s first season at Colfax was atypical of what you would expect from a first year program with out any experienced players: 0-8. But the groundwork was laid.
After that, with Poole as the driving force, the Falcons, with a student body at the time of about 250, turned out some excellent teams that proceeded to post a record of 18-4-2 over the next four seasons.
Using a style of play that featured a run-first, pass when-you-must offense and a hard-hitting defense, the Falcons proceeded to go 4-2-1, 6-2, 6-1-1 and 6-1-1 in Poole’s final four seasons at Colfax from 1961 to 1964.
Although none of his teams ever won a Pioneer League championship, his squads helped give the school some of its earliest athletic memories.
His 1962 group pulled off one of the biggest wins in SupCal history when they ended Wheatland’s state-leading 28-game winning streak.
”Coach Poole was ‘THE’ football coach at CHS,” said Rick Thompson, one of Poole’s former quarterbacks who went on to the U.S Naval Academy after graduating from Colfax. “He was there all four years. He started the program and set a very strong work ethic for the teams. Our first practice as freshmen we duck walked for what seemed like a half an hour. He wanted to see what we were made of and confirm our commitment.”
In 1964, Poole’s squad won its first five games of the season and climbed to the No. 2 spot in the Sacramento Bee’s coveted SupCal Big Little Five poll. One of the wins was a 47-0 destruction of Del Oro, one of only two victories by the Falcons over their former rivals in the school’s history.
But perhaps one of the game’s most remembered by a Poole-coached team at Colfax wasn’t a win or a loss.
Colusa won the Pioneer League championship in 1964, but could only manage a 0-0 tie with the Falcons in a game played at the Colusa Fairgrounds.
“It was one of the most hard-hitting games I had ever been involved with,” remembered Poole. “Our kids went toe-to-toe with them for four quarters. It was a battle”
After leaving Colfax in 1965, Poole was called on by Sahl again, this time to start a program at Oakmont High.
While with the Vikings, Poole’s teams — playing in the Sierra Foothill League, which at the time included Yuba City, Marysville and Oroville — quickly became competitive. Finally, in 1970, Poole gained his first championship season. In 1971, his Vikings repeated with a co-SFL title.
Poole coached varsity football at Oakmont until 1974. One of his players, Dan Bunz, a 1973 graduate, went on to play in the NFL for eight seasons and competed on two San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl championship teams.
"He pushed us to our limits but he cared about us as students and people, not just as athletes," Bunz professed. "After I got into teaching I would stop by and talk and share his thoughts on teaching and coaching. He was a great coach and more importantly, a great teacher and person."
Poole was also active as a track coach at Oakmont. The school’s track invitational now held each April is called the Glenn Poole Invitational. Following retirement from Oakmont in the 1980s, Poole was an assistant football coach at Mesa Verde with his longtime friend Mike Gebhardt.
Poole, who was inducted into Colfax High’s Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1997, was also inducted into Oakmont High’s first Hall of Fame class this past September.
Oakmont 's current head football coach Tim Moore was part of the committee that selected the athletes and coaches. In a story with the Roseville Press Tribune, Moore listed some of his favorite memories when he attended Oakmont and played under Coach Poole.
“Personally, it was an honor to be a part of this ceremony as a committee member,” Moore said. “Glenn was the first football head coach at Oakmont. If you go back to his era he was real big on family. He and his wife were at (school events) together… he expected a lot of his students and players. He is defiantly a big factor in how I do things today.”
Fellow Oakmont HOF inductee Bob Trythall also vividly remembered Poole.
“When we were here, coach Poole would tell us that as we grew, some of our fondest memories would be from playing high school sports,” Trythall said. “Turns out, he was right.”
Never forgetting his roots, time and time again over the years you could look up from the sidelines at Colfax High’s Marson Field and see coach Poole and his wife Shirley sitting in lawn chairs on the side of the hill taking in a Falcons game.
“He was a Falcon,” former Colfax High football coach John Hays said. “I remember him coming up to our games and I loved chatting with him at clinics. He was a great guy.”
Poole is survived by his son Terry of Eugene, Oregon; daughter Karen Moreno of Incline, Nevada; one granddaughter, and a sister, Delores Barbero of Wyoming. He was preceded in death by his wife Shirley.
A celebration of Poole’s life is being planned by the family sometime next year.