Glenn Poole, a well-respected coach and teacher who started football programs in the 1960s at both Colfax and Oakmont high schools and went on to have an influential impact on his players and students, died on Nov. 16 in Loomis.
According to his son, Terry Poole; Poole, who was 84 years old when he died, had slowed down some in recent years and had a health setback about a month ago.
“Dad had been doing pretty well for getting up there in age,’ Terry Poole said. “But about a month ago, he started to go downhill rapidly. We’re going to miss him.”
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 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 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 said. “It was a rare opportunity and for us. They couldn’t have chosen a better man to do it.”
Dan Gayaldo, the current principal at Del Oro High, played for Poole in 1973-74 at Oakmont. Gayaldo fondly remembers the work ethic that Poole instilled in his teams that still inspires him today.
“It’s been 40 years and I can still hear his voice urging us on to do it the right way,” Gayaldo said.” There’s things I learned from him that I put forth today with the way I raised my family. Coach was all about family.”
Poole grew up in Grass Valley but attended high school in Roseville. After serving in the military and attending Chico State, Poole was recruited by Sahl, Colfax High’s first principal, 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, Pool 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 it didn’t come easy at first.
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 awhile, 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 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 without 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 team 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 Colfax High School,” 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 a freshman, we duck walked for what seemed like a half 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 games most remembered by a Poole-coached team at Colfax wasn’t a win and wasn’t 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,” Poole remembered. “Our kids went toe-to-toe with them for four quarters. It was a battle.”
After leaving Colfax in 1965, Poole was called on Sahl again, this time to start Oakmont High’s, the new school in Roseville, football program.
At Oakmont, 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 would coach varsity football at Oakmont until 1974. One of his players, Dan Bunz, a 1972 graduate, went on to an eight-year NFL career and played 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 also was 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 inducted into Oakmont High’s first Hall of Fame class this past September.
Oakmont football’s current head 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 on his 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.”
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, coach Poole and his wife Shirley sat in lawn chairs on the side of the hill at Colfax High’s Marson Field watching a Falcons game.
“He was a Falcon,” said former Colfax High football coach John Hays. “I remember him coming up to our games and I loved chatting with him at clinics. A great guy.”
Poole is survived by his son, Terry Poole, of Eugene, Ore.; daughter, Karen Moreno of Incline, Nev.; one granddaughter and a sister, Delores Barbero of Wyoming. He was preceded in death by his wife Shirley in 2012.
A celebration of Poole’s life is being planned by the family sometime next year.