Coach: Joliet slaying victim Eric Glover was a leader, mentor on football field
BY TONY GRAF AND BRIAN STANLEY Sun-Times Media January 16, 2013 12:42AM
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:42AM
ROMEOVILLE — Eric Glover’s teammates on the Illinois Gators remembered the Great Midwest Football League All-Star during their first practice without him.
As indoor practice began Monday in Romeoville for the Will County team’s season this summer, the defensive standout was missing.
“It was a little emotional, but it was pretty good,” Head Coach Joshua Jackson said of the semipro team’s training session.
Glover, 22, of Joliet, was killed last week along with Terrance Rankins, also 22, of Joliet. Charged with first-degree murder in their deaths are Alisa R. Massaro, 18, Joshua F. Miner, 24, and Adam M. Landerman, 19, all of Joliet, and Bethany L. McKee, 18, of Shorewood. All four were being held in lieu of $10 million bail.
On Monday, Glover would have begun practice for his seventh season of semipro football under Jackson. Glover, a 2008 graduate of Joliet Central High School, had taken on a leadership role as a free safety on the Gators.
“A great guy to be around,” Jackson said of Glover. “He became a mentor to the new rookies whom we had coming in, and he started taking a role, really responsible.”
“He’s going to be missed. He’s an irreplaceable person,” said Shannon Love, a Gators linebacker who was Glover’s teammate for five years.
“He was really encouraging,” Love said. “He would see people down — he’d lift you up, lift the team up. If somebody made a bad play on the field, he’d coach them out of it, saying: ‘Don’t worry about it. Pick your head up. Keep moving — there’s a lot of game left.’ He was outgoing, outspoken, a leader on the team.”
Love remembers how Glover helped him through his early years, when he was an inexperienced player.
“He taught me about tackling, how to approach a person and be safe at the same time,” Love said.
Also this last year, Glover started coaching youth football, Jackson said.
The Great Midwest Football League plays 10 games from May through August, and the Gators started their first indoor training camp this week. In the spring, practices move outdoors to a site in Joliet.
On Tuesday, the Gators website had a tribute to Glover: “R.I.P. to a true champion. To our brother that we lost too soon. This year will belong to you. You will be in our hearts and minds forever.”
“Rest now, for you are in a better place. We love you,” the website said.
Glover first came to the Joliet Buccaneers semipro football team from Joliet Central, where he participated in football, wrestling and track.
Overall, Jackson coached Glover for six years — four with the Buccaneers, where Glover played wide receiver and cornerback, and two with the Gators, where he played free safety.
“He became one of my captains on my defense,” Jackson said.
Love was Glover’s teammate on both the Buccaneers and Gators.
In 2012, Glover was named an All-Star in the Great Midwest Football League, which includes more than two dozen teams from Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.
Jackson said Glover’s life had its share of ups and downs, but the coach remembers a young man who changed his life for the better and became a leader, positively influencing others.