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March 05, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-05

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

March 5, 2012 - 3B

From Page 4B
MHSAA State Championship.
Luke played on a torn MCL for
the last five weeks of the state title
run. Instead of practicing on the
field with his teammates, the full-
back was in the training room or
i rehabbingin the swimmingpool.
"And then on Saturday, he'd
rip off 140 yards on 15 carries and
bash over linebackers for Kelvin,"
Stuursma said. "We'd put him on a
bike between downs and series if
we could rest him.
"He said if he just keeps his legs
moving, it didn't hurt, but once he
stopped, it'd hurt. So he kept mov-
ing and we kept playing him and
he never quit."
In the state final at Ford Field in
Detroit, East Grand Rapids rum-
bled past Farmington Hills Har-
rison for a 42-17 victory. Kelvin
scampered for 209 yards and two
touchdowns. Running on one leg,
Luke barreled his way for 98 yards
and a pair of touchdowns.
"He's the type that would run
through a wall to be the best," Kel-
vin said.
Stuursma doesn't remember
the state-final victory quite as
well anymore. Instead, he quick-
ly brings up a matchup against
Grand Rapids Catholic Central
during Luke's junior season.
To him, it illustrates everything
you need to know about Luke.
East Grand Rapids lined up at
its own 15-yard line and put the
running backs to work.
"Kelvin was ripping of six-,
eight-, 10-, 15-yard gainers here
and there, then we'd give it to Luke
* and he'd get a tough yard or two,"
Stuursma said.
With the ball lined up at the
Catholic Central one-yard line,
Stuursma sent his play call into
the huddle. It was a fullback dive.
Luke looked across the huddle at
Kelvin, stared down at the dirt
and shook his head. Luke took the
handoff and scored.
He came off to the Pioneers
sideline and went straight to Stu-
ursma. Both coach and player
remember the incident, nearly
sevenyears later.
"We got in a little scuffle
because I came off and said 'Hey,
give it to Kelvin next time,' " Luke
"I got in his kitchen a little bit
about it, saying, 'Listen, you play,
I'll coach,' " Stuursma added.
"He freaked out, and rightfully
so," Luke said, smiling at the mem-
ory. "I was a 16-year-old kid telling
him what to do.
"I just felt bad. Kelvin just did
everything. I blocked a few guys,
sure, but he seriously took the ball
85 yards and then I get one yard
for the touchdown."
Stuursma says he's never seen
a player with as much heart and
conviction on and offthe field than
"From that point on, it became
more than a coach-player relation-
ship, but more of a friendship,"
Stuursma said.
A yellowingnewspaper clipping
4 tells the story of a fourth-string
fullback who emerged as team
captain as a junior. The excerpt,
clipped from the Toledo Blade, is
dated Aug.31,1981.

The accompanying photo shows
Tom Glendening, a shaggy-haired
fullback from western Michigan
who won a spot on the Bowling
Green football team.
He's called a maverick, a win-
ner, a captain.
Tom's journey wasn't so differ-
ent from Luke's. The difference,
though, is that nobody wanted
Tom's kid.
As his senior year came to a
close, Luke held football walk-on
offers from Wheaton and Hope,
two Division-III Christian col-
leges. But Luke didn't want to play
football. Hockey was his passion -
it just wasn't his strong suit.
His backers knew Luke's work
ethic and humilitywould land him
somewhere, they just didn't know
"I knew what he was worth,"
Kelvin said. "I knew that he could
play at any school in the country,
football or hockey, just because I'd
been around him. He told me he
was willing to go wherever would
take him - he just wanted to play.
"People don't know this about
him, but while Luke is a great
hockey player, he could've easily
come to Michigan and played foot-
ball here."
With Luke treading water with
his college decision, the Glenden-
ings decided to keep his options

open for anoth
Luke to Hotc
schools, they
pluck football
schools. It was
play hockey.
As the
approached, t
said they had a
as the fall foot
down, he heard
Penn. Finally,
offer. Luke was
"I felt it wa
Luke said. "I ca
could've played
Wheaton. I didr
misery to do th:
Wheaton wz
offer him a spo
but it had a mi
line. As it appro
tied with the d
of playing hoc
be his last Chan
giate athletics.
Leslie remen
from her son in
"I don'tknow
Luke said.
"Just pray ab
"I am prayin
not answering.'
"This is the
told him. "Rem
been reading?'Y
Luke didn't
answer. That w
ers was in the st

er year by sending player-coach duo jogged around
hkiss. Ivy League Reed's Lake in East Grand Rapids.
were told, like to It was early August 2008. The
players from prep kid wasn't a scrawny sophomore
also a last chance to anymore - he was just two weeks
away from joining the Michigan
football season hockey team for his freshman sea-
he University of son. Luke had come a long way.
football program "Do you have any doubts you
spot for Luke. But can play?" Stuursma asked.
ball season wound Luke hesitated as he glanced
i less and less from back.
they pulled their "Not one doubt," he finally
crushed. answered.
as a wasted year," It wasn't necessarily true. It
me out here, and I may have been. He can't remem-
already at Hope or ber, exactly.
n't need this year of "In my mind, I was thinking,
at." 'Maybe I do,' " Luke said. "People
as still willing to around me had instilled so much,
it for the next fall, 'You can do it, you can do it, you
d-December dead- can do it,' when I thought there
)ached, Luke wres- was no way. When I lost my confi-
ecision. He dreamt dence, other people gave it to me."
key, but this could Stuursma's confidence never
ce at playing colle- wavered. Luke had earned his
trust as a captain at East Grand
mbers a phone call Rapids. He knew if someone gave
mid-December. Luke a chance, he'd prove himself.
vwhat to do, Mom," But proving himself wasn't
going to be easy. When Luke
out it." arrived at Michigan, he had a clean
g," he said. "God's slate. So clean, in fact, that Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson didn't
faith part," Leslie know his name. Louie Caporusso
ember what you've called him 'Fleming' until Luke
'ou have to trust." finally corrected him.
give Wheaton an Powers, the only coach who had
eekend, Billy Pow- seen Luke play, wasn't around for
tands at Hotchkiss. the first week of training in Sep-
tember. He remembers his conver-
*** sation with Berenson and assistant
coach Mel Pearson.

Senior captain Luke Glendening poses for a photo with his father, a former Bowling Green fullback.

walk-on freshman.
Still, he was just a practice play-
er. He was on a tryout. When the
first exhibition game came around
on Oct. 4, 2008, Luke took his
seat high above the ice at Yost Ice
Arena as a healthy scratch.
That was supposed to be the
game-day routine. Supposed to be.
"I watched six games from up
there," Luke said.
Luke had quicklyearned Beren-
son's trust. The walk-on who was
never promised ice time suited up
for the second scrimmage.
The morning after Luke
watched Michigan's first scrim-
mage, the Glendenings were just
sitting down for the morning ser-
vice at Crossroads Bible Church in
Grand Rapids when Luke called
Tom. He was in the lineup.
"When I heard that, I thought
'I must have misunderstood what
this whole Michigan thing was,'
".Joe said. "I didn't think he'd get
into the lineup until they were bat-
tling injury midseason or some-
The family dashed out of church
and sped through the three-hour
trip to Ann Arbor to make the 4:05

The reason. Powers visited
Hotchkiss in the first place had
nothing to do with Luke. He was
there to see one of Luke's team-
mates - defenseman Mac Bennett.
Luke didn't know who Powers
was or that the coach was even at
the holidaytournament. But in the
finals, Luke scored both of Hotch-
kiss's goals against rival Deerfield
- it was impeccablectiming fortwo
of his eightcgoals all season.
Powers came away impressed.
"Guess who was at my game
today?" Luke asked his parents in
a postgame phone call. "Coach told
me I picked agood dayto playwell,
because Michigan was here. They
maybe interested in taking me as a
preferred walk-on."
It wasn't a phone call they ever
expected. It wasn't the kind of call
they'd been hearing from their
son. Luke had been struggling
with homesickness at Hotchkiss,
with his family 700 miles away.
In the late fall, Tom and Les-
lie determined that it would be 31
days until Luke would see them,
when Hotchkiss closed for Christ-
mas break. They told Luke to start
reading 1 Samuel, the ninth book
of the Old Testament. It had 31
chapters. Read one chapter every
night, they said, then they would
talk about it on the phone.
That was the kind of call they
were expecting. Instead, Michi-
gan - the premier program in col-
lege hockey - was in the picture.
Itwasstill early, but Powers was
serious about this one. It wasn't
the goal-scoring ability that stood
out, it was the shift-to-shift men-
tality, the aggressiveness.
"He has the explosion of a run-
ning back," Powers said. "Luke
really explodes, and there's great
power in his stride. His physical-
ity, the way he hits, he uses his full
bodylike in football.
"You're just not going to see
Luke Glendening get knocked
down, I don't care howbigthe guy
Bennett committed to Michi-
gan during the season, but it was
him who was taking pointers from
Luke, the walk-on hopeful.
"I cannot say enough good
things about Luke Glendening,"
Bennett said. "That kid is a stud in
every way. Off the ice, he's some-
one that I tryto model myself after
- he does everything right. He
puts in the effort, doesn't take any
shortcuts. Maybe it's that western-
Michigan mindset or something,
but he just puts in the work."
"At Hotchkiss, the biggest
guys on the other team - let's say
6-foot-3 and 220 pounds - would
try to step up and destroy Luke.
And Luke's just built like a brick
house. People would try to hit him
and they'd bounce off."
The Hotchkiss season fin-
ished in late February. It wasn't
until April that Powers finally
gave Glendening a call. Fresh-
man standout Max Pacioretty was
signing a professional contract
and leaving school. Michigan had
a spot for Luke.
Stuursma picked up his tempo
to keep up with Luke. Gravel
crackled underfoot as the former

"They told meI underestimated
Luke Glendening," Powers said.
"And I did."
Even then, the Glendenings
didn't really understand Luke's
position on the team.
"I'm thinking a preferred walk-
on means there are 60 freshmen
trying for two positions," Tom
said, giving a chuckle. "He called
us when he got there and said, 'No,

on the final seat. The placard in
front of the empty seat read Luke
The veteran coach gave a small
smile and turned back. If he were
to pick any single player to rep-
resent the Michigan program, it
would be his junior captain - he'd
never seen the kid stop fighting.
"It seems like a lot of the young-
er generation, they feel entitled
and not as willing to work," Beren-
son said. "But I tell you what, the
kid (who was) sitting at the end of
the table here, Luke Glendening,
he came to Michigan like (senior
goaltender) Shawn Hunwick -
with no expectations.
"I didn't know if he would ever
play a game, and when I saw him
on the ice, I realized that this kid
has something special. ... He goes
through the wall. Off the ice, he
is like a machine, and he is just a
great kid. Those are the kind of
kids that set an example for those
entitled kids."
At the time, he was splitting
a scholarship with goaltender
Shawn Hunwick - the captain
and the star goalie, former walk-
ons who were thought destined for
inglorious careers as reserves.
Powers said the one-year tryout
turned into four years after just a
week or two. Back in 2008, Luke
wasn't so confident.
"I didn't feel comfortable until
we had a meeting at the end of the
year," Luke said. "They finally told
me I'd be on the team next year.
That'sthe way Iam, maybe I doubt
a lot - I don't think I do - but I
needed to hear it from them."
A year later, immediately fol-
lowing Luke's sophomore season,
the team voted on captains for the
following year - the consensus
was to elect Hagelin and Glenden-
ing. It was an easy decision.
"If you don't make Luke captain,
then you've got serious problems
on your team," Bennett said. "A
captain is supposed to be a leader,
someone who shows the younger
players the right things to do and
how to do it. Luke is thatguy."
No one batted an eyelash. He
wasn't a goal scorer. He wasn't
fancy. He was a walk-on. So how
did he do it?
"Teammates aren't worried
about the scholarship or the goals
or assists," Berenson said. "They
want a person they can trust, who

they can look up to and respect off
the ice, away from the rink when
no one else is looking.
"I think he was a slam-dunk for
A script tattoo runs along Luke's
right bicep. The dark lettering
bears the reference to his favorite
verse: Colossians 3:23. It's why he
chose No.23 for hisjersey number.
"Whatever you do, work at it
with all your heart, as working for
the Lord, not for human masters,"
the verse reads.
Luke's story is hard to believe.
His underdog journey hasn't fol-
lowed a script. It hasn't been a
path paved by entitlement, but
rather one gutted by struggles and
decisions. It'sthe story of a captain
who was overlooked time andtime
again. It wasn't his goal-scoring
that kept him on the Michigan
hockey team for four seasons -
he's scored 29 times in 158 games.
(His family jokes that half of those
were empty-netters, too.)
It washis character - character
built by family, faith and football.
For Berenson, it was this:
"The bottom line is that this kid
is a solid person," Berenson said.
"If you take everything else away,
he knows right from wrong, and
he's not afraid to back it up."
For Stuursma, it was this:
"We might need an hour (to
interview), because he's an unbe-
lievable kid," the football coach
said. "I trust him with my life."
And for his father, it was this:
"What makes me the proudest
is that he'll take a homeless guy
and buy him something to eat,"
Tom said. "Or he'll take a little kid
and wrap his arms around him and
love him at hockey camp. I'm a lot
more proud that he does that than
he scored a goal or is captain."
Luke may only have a handful
of games remaining in his hockey
career. He was never drafted,
though he might test the minor-
league waters. If that doesn't lead
anywhere, he wants to be a teach-
er and a coach.
Michigan's captain doesn't fit
the mold of a typical student-ath-
lete. But, then again, he never did.
Michigan promised Luke Glen-
deningachance. He promised he'd
never quit.

"(Glendening) shows
the younger players the right
things to do and how to do it."
- Sophomore Mac Bennett

I've got myown stall, and it's actu-
ally in the locker room!"'
Luke had a spot, that much was
certain, buthe was goingto have to
grow into it. First, though, he had
to grow into his equipment.
"Luke tells the story of being a
tin man in the first practice," Tomr
said. "He had all-new equipment,
so he couldn't skate. It was brutal.
He'd never gotten new equipment
"I was a mess," Luke added. "It
was a disaster."
It wasn't long before Beren-
son learned the name on the back
of the No. 23 sweater. Luke was
staying stride for stride with Carl
Hagelin through the dry-land
"First impressions are impor-
tant, and (Luke's) first impres-
sions were as good as they get,"
Berenson said. "I was pleased that
he could outrun and out-anything
half of our team and he was a

p.m, start time against Waterloo.
"We walked into the rink - I
think it was the first time I'd been
in Yost in a game situation - and
just the smell of the place kind of
envelops you," Tom said. "I looked
up and saw him standing on the
blue line and..."
Tom paused mid-sentence,
glancing down.
"That was all that mattered. He
lived his dream. If that was the last
day he played..."
His voice trailed off again.
"He was lost out there in his
first game. But you don't often get
to see your kid living what he's
been dreaming."
It was the eve of the 2011 NCAA
national-title game.
On a podium in St. Paul, Minn.,
Berenson glanced down the row of
chairs to his left. His eyes locked

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