(Anderson County boys’ basketball coach Glen Drury had a serious injury while riding his bike on March 15. I visited him several times in the hospital and interviewed him, along with his wife, Jennifer, at Cardinal Hill Hospital on March 31. He came home a few days later. This story appeared in The Anderson News on April 4.)
Talk to just about any high school basketball coach in Kentucky and when the name Glen Drury comes up, the conversation will likely turn to preparation and toughness.
“His teams are so well-prepared,” is a common statement about Drury’s Anderson County teams.
“His teams are tough, competitive rascals,” is how one coach has described Drury’s Anderson teams.
And in a day when many coaches scout opponents simply by watching video transmitted over the Internet, some chuckle that during basketball season, Drury’s dates with his wife, Jennifer, consist of traveling somewhere across Kentucky to scout an upcoming opponent.
“I’m a preparation freak,” Drury said late in the 2018 season before the Bearcats scored a third consecutive district championship for the first time in 40 years.
But little did Drury know that the way he gets his basketball teams ready for tournament time would translate into how he faces one of the biggest battles of his lifetime.
“I’m getting better,” Drury said from his room at Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington Friday afternoon. “I hope to be home (this week).”
It’s been a traumatic three weeks since that fateful day of March 15.
Drury was riding his bicycle on U.S. 127, just south of Interstate 64, when he collided with an SUV at Jones Lane in Franklin County. A witness said the car failed to stop at a stop sign, according to information obtained from the Franklin County Sheriff’s office. Drury was first taken to Frankfort Regional Hospital, where he stayed for 13 days before being transferred to Cardinal Hill last week.
His pelvis was broken in so many places it was considered virtually shattered.
“The doctors told me full recovery would take six months,” Drury said before grinning, “I am hoping it is six weeks.
The smile, quip and determination — “I took four steps today,” Drury proudly said during an hour-long visit — is vintage Drury.
And those who have suited up on Drury’s teams for the last 31 years at Anderson and two years before that at Western Anderson would expect nothing different. In his first season at Anderson, Drury fell when a scaffold he had climbed to change a light bulb gave way. Drury plummeted from the rafters to the Anderson gym floor, shattering an ankle. He spent several days in the hospital, but missed coaching only two games and he was actually on the bench for the second contest, but deferred to his assistant, Tony Kays.
“When I first heard about (Drury’s accident) and understood everything, I thought to myself, ‘Nobody I know is more prepared for the road ahead of him,” says Wayne White, who played for Drury more than 20 years ago and now helps coach the Anderson freshmen. “When I saw him, the first thing I thought was ‘Amazing!’ He was sitting up, smiling, talking and acting like he had a sprained ankle, not a shattered pelvis.”
Drury has been spending his time watching the NCAA Tournament and the NIT — “Man, Rick Stansbury did a great job at Western (Kentucky) this year,” he said last Friday before discussing the Final Four and that Villanova was his pick to win the big trophy — while trying to rehab to the point of being able to take care of himself again.
“He’s not watched as much basketball as he would like,” his wife, Jennifer, said. “He’s watched when he’s felt like it, but sometimes when it was on, he was sedated.”
But keeping Drury down is next to impossible, according to his former players.
Will Carlton, a first team all-stater in 1995, visited his “Coach” at Frankfort while Drury was being moved to a larger room. “They asked him if he wanted to walk or go in a wheel chair. He was in a lot of pain, but there was no way with me there he was not going to walk, so he walked it. It took him forever, but he walked.”
Carlton says Drury’s wife sent a photo of his Coach riding a stationary bike to Johnny Shouse, who played on Drury’s first Anderson teams, and him. “Johnny texted back, ‘He’s tougher than woodpecker lips,’” Carlton said.
Drury’s wife says he has had over 400 visitors, including many members of the coaching fraternity. She says members of his Anderson staff have chipped in to help his recovery in countless ways.
But most of those visitors have been from those guys who have worn the Anderson County jersey since 1987-88, Drury’s first season at the helm. The hospital rooms have been just like the Anderson locker room following games, a scene Carlton describes as a “revolving door of alumni who just want to say a quick ‘Hi’ and get that firm, look-you-square-in-the-eyes handshake he taught us all.”
During Friday’s interview, Austin Cummins, who graduated from Anderson in 2015 and is now playing at Union College, and his father, Bobby, dropped by. “He’s more than just a coach,” Cummins said. “He teaches you about life.”
It’s a refrain heard over and over when players are asked why they remain close to Drury.
“It’s all about the relationship he forges with his players,” Carlton says. “Like he was for me, Coach is a strong role model for young men. He uses basketball as a way to take boys and make men out of them and he does this at a high level. The lessons he teaches are applicable to life and those lessons have served so many of us and helped us lead productive, successful lives. Plus, he’s been around so long that he has accumulated a lot of alumni. So many of us started in Bearcat camp in the summer as camper and coach would get to know you and keep up with you as you came through the ranks. High school is a very impressionable age and when you have a role model like Coach, it sticks with you. That connection never fades.”
Another former all-stater and now an assistant coach at Anderson, C.J. Penny, adds “He’s a guy that genuinely cares more about you as a person than a player, so when you see former players come back and support him, it truly shows what kind of man he is.”
And those players plan on being there for Drury and his family during the long recovery.
“If Coach were in a California hospital, I’d say there’d still be some of us there to visit him and his family,” says Shouse, the leading scorer on Drury’s first great Anderson team in 1991.
Drury hopes to be able to get back on a bike sometime in the future but for a long time, his biking will be limited to a stationary bike. The road to recovery will be long, but those who saw Drury walk the sidelines believe he will eventually be back.
“He may not be able to jump as high as he once could but he has already exceeded many expectations from this accident alone,” Shouse says. “I mean we are talking about a gy that fell from the high school gym rafters when I was a freshman. Who comes back from that? Coach Drury, that’s who.”
Penny adds, “There’s no doubt in my mind at all. Coach is a strong-willed and resilient guy.”
Like Drury’s game preparation, much of his recovery will be mind-over-matter. “He’s spent a lifetime teaching and living mental toughness,” White says. “He’s the most goal-oriented and goal-driven person I know. And most importantly, despite what some would call terrible luck, with a smile on his face, he is quick to say, ‘God has a reason and a plan for everything.”
As for Drury, the goal is simple. “I want to get back as close to normal as I can in as short a period as I can,” he says. “I have to be dedicated to what I want to try to accomplish. This has given me a chance to understand how some people live.”
Carlton quips the three sure things in life are, “Death, taxes and you can’t keep Coach Drury down. He wasn’t supposed to walk again after he fell out of the rafters. He coached an entire season with vertigo….And now this. It would be very easy for him to throw in the towel. But he is a role model and he knows all of Bearcat Nation is watching and he would feel like he’s letting us down if he doesn’t come all the way back. So he’ll come all the way back and mark my words, you’ll start seeing him back on his bike before long.”
Drury recalls his accident
Anderson County basketball coach Glen Drury expected an uneventful bicycle ride when he left his Lawrenceburg home on the afternoon of March 15. He pedaled through Community Park before heading north on U.S. 127.
He took a break just before turning for home at a gas station just before he reached Interstate 64. “I called Jennifer (his wife) from the BP station,” he remembers.
“He told me he was going to be a little while because he would be riding back into the wind,” Jennifer says.
She did not know what to think less than 10 minutes later when her phone indicated he was calling her again. It was actually Angie Champion, an Anderson County Middle School teacher who was one of the first to arrive on the scene of Drury’s accident. Champion was also going south on 127 and was tending to Drury before the Franklin County sheriff or EMS could arrive.
Drury has a vivid recollection of what happened. “I saw the car from a distance,” he says. “Basically it didn’t stop. I felt myself getting hit.” Drury flew across 127 South and landed on the northbound side of the median. He says one of his arms actually landed on the pavement of the northbound lanes.
Drury praised the staff at Frankfort Regional Medical Center. “They were A-No. 1,” Drury says. Among those who cared for him were Dr. Bryan Shouse, who was on call at the time of Drury’s accident, and Tammy Payton, a hospital coordinator checked on Drury’s needs daily.
Drury also singled out nurse Melissa Moudy, wife of Anderson County High School teacher Todd Moudy. “She was great!” he said.
But Jennifer Drury adds, “There is no way we could list everyone who has been involved in his recovery. I know we would leave someone out.”
“Coach Drury means so much to the Eighth Region and coaches around the state! He took time to sit down with me at a team camp in Glasgow when I was a young JV coach in the late 90s. I still use what he shared as I move away from the game. Glad he’s getting better.
— John Leeper, Director of Personnel, Shelby County schools and former head basketball coach at Bullitt Central High School.
“He is one tough man. With the Good Lord’s help, I have no doubt he will recover.”
–David Shelburne, former head coach at Bullitt East High School and former athletic director at Spencer County High School. Also the father of country singer, J.D. Shelburne.
“Prayers from Coach Stowers’ family and the Pioneer Nation.”
–Jeff Stowers, girls’ basketball coach, Simon Kenton High School.
“He always makes it clear that you have to live in the present, you can’t do anything about yesterday but you can win the today and it will prepare you for tomorrow.”
— Former Anderson all-stater (2009) and current Bearcat assistant coach C.J. Penny.
“He’d bring in a story about Larry Bird or some other basketball great and share some of the ways those players prepared for game and life situations. These teaching moments from Coach would be something that would transpire and stick with so many of us in our lives we’ve grown to appreciate. I know for me personally, I am so grateful and thankful for everything Coach has shared and taught me, even when he wasn’t trying. Coach has a gift from God and he knows it and he definitely cherishes all of God’s blessings. His awesome faith will bring him through all of this.”
— Johnny Shouse, Anderson County Class of 1991.