Glenney's basketball experience prepared her for the future

Marci Glenney wanted to win. It got to the point sometimes during high school girls' basketball practices at Norwich Free Academy during the Glenney era, when she was joined by a few talented, yet hard-nosed teammates, too, that then-coach Bill Scarlata worried someone was going to get hurt.

But after NFA, after two years playing for the UConn women's basketball team and two years at Clemson, Glenney found herself in a quandary: how to match that will to win in everyday life.

"Sometimes it skews your perception of success," Glenney said of an enormously successful basketball career which will land her in the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.

"Finding a passion that correlates in regular life is hard. It's not the same high. It's hard to find something career-wise that you absolutely love. For a small percentage of people, you get to do what you absolutely love."

Here's what Glenney chose.

She's a traveling emergency room nurse.

She is based in Atlanta, where she owns a townhouse with her younger sister, Lauren. But Glenney is currently in the middle of a nine-month stint in the ER at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Kendall, Florida, about 20 miles from Miami. She has served in the same capacity in San Antonio, Texas. Wherever they need a long-term nurse to fill in, that's where Glenney winds up.

At the Florida location, where she was hired for six months and recently re-upped for three more — taking her to the first week of July — Glenney helps serve a large Spanish population. She went there for the first time earlier in her career without speaking Spanish.

It's what Glenney, a 1997 NFA graduate who helped lead the Wildcats to the first two Class LL state championships in program history (1996, 1997), has always done. Adapt.

"Maybe it won't feel like basketball did once upon a time. But it's something I could be proud of. OK, so what I'm doing really matters. That's a checkmark," Glenney said. "... This is very similar to how you feel when you're playing sports and it's a big game. There's pressure on the line."

Glenney graduated from NFA as the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer with 1,653 points, leading the program to consecutive 27-0 seasons during those championship years. A 5-foot-11 guard, Glenney is a three-time all-state pick and was the 1997 Gatorade Connecticut Girls' Basketball Player of the Year.

It was the start of something that evolved into seven state championships and four Gatorade Players of the Year under Scarlata at NFA.

"She thought we could be state champions before I thought 'We can be state champions,'" said Scarlata, who recently retired after 27 seasons. "That whole group got it started. We built it from there. Those kids were fun to be around. They played harder at practice than most teams played during games."

Glenney went on to play in four NCAA tournaments in a collegiate career which began at UConn, including seven starts as a sophomore following the season-ending injury to then-freshman point guard Sue Bird.

Glenney transferred to Clemson, sitting out a year before playing two seasons, finishing as a third team Atlantic Coast Conference all-star her senior year.

She graduated in 2002 with a degree in marketing. She went on to receive her nursing degree in 2012.

"Marci is our most versatile player," Clemson coach Jim Davis said prior to Glenney's senior season. "Her tough, aggressive style of play and her ball-handling abilities make her a tough matchup at the small forward position. ... The intensity level at which Marci plays is contagious to her teammates."

The same is still true of Glenney, now at the age of 40.

"It's like going in blind, into a high-pressure situation in an environment you don't know, people you don't know, resources you don't know," Glenney said of her current nursing gig. "I would say it takes about three shifts to get in the groove, pick up the vibe, understand where you can go for help. Then you're like, 'All right, I got this.'"

Glenney said with a laugh that her sister begs her regularly to stop with the sports analogies for life.

"For me, that's my experience," Glenney said. "You almost have to anticipate ... your teammates are your co-workers ... everyone has strengths and weaknesses ... you need versatility.

"I find it kind of ironic. For me as a player, I wasn't necessarily awesome at one skill; I was well-rounded, I used my versatility from point guard to swingman to small forward."

Glenney said she is "much more chill now" than ever. Because of that, she's not sure how much longer travel nursing will be her calling. Perhaps she'll explore different avenues in nursing.

Whatever it is, Lauren should be ready for more basketball analogies.

"It was an interesting time," Glenney said of her distinguished career at NFA. "The school had never won a championship. After that, we were on the map. ... It only works if everybody is unselfish enough and wants to win.

"When something like this comes up, I do forget how much I was able to experience (through basketball). It was kind of a big deal at the time. It's fun to reflect back."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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