Gary Denton, a noted Clermont County sports legend, is retiring as both an educator and a coach at Glen Este High School.
Denton, who graduated from Glen Este High in 1974 and the University of Cincinnati with a degree in secondary education in 1978, has been teaching and coaching at his alma mater beginning with the 1978-79 school year.
The son of Carl and Peggy Denton and the brother of Mark and Randy, earned 11 varsity letters – three in football and four each in wrestling and track and field. He was an Eastern Hills League all-star in each.
He is a member of the Clermont County and Glen Este High School sports halls of fame.
He has been a physical education teacher at the high school and junior high school, and Brantner Lane Elementary.
He began his coaching career, while a junior at UC, at Walnut Hills High School where he served as the Eagles' head wrestling coach for two years. His star wrestler became a Public High School League champion and state qualifier, Derrick Strayhorn, who Denton proudly points out went on to earn his college degree at Stanford University and today is a lawyer in Dayton, Ohio.
At Glen Este, Denton has coached wrestling, football, boys golf, boys and girls track and field, and girls soccer. At the junior high he coached basketball.
With all of the coaching going on, he somehow managed to find the time to be a successful competitor in powerlifting and body building.
Living in Summerside most of his life, he married GEHS classmate Sherri Sanders whom he dated in high school and who was a Purplette (a wrestling cheerleader and statistician) during her prep days.
Denton is 100% Purple and White. He and his wife of 28 years have two children, Holly (25 years of age) and Brent (23), both graduates of GEHS.
Denton, now 53, feels its time to finally leave school buildings behind him saying he's been going to school since he was four-years old.
"I've got a chance to do something a little different now," he said. "This was a hard decision to make (to retire). I've spent two years thinking about the negatives and the positives."
Next to his family, wrestling may be next in his life's line of importance. He began coaching at Glen Este as a varsity assistant.
He helped coach five of his matmen to becoming placers in the state tournament - Joe McCaffrey (second place), Matt Howard (fifth and sixth), Scott Reese (fourth), Tim Berling (fifth), and Jacob Porter (eighth).
He credits much of his successful coaching abilities to those he coached along side, including Randy Hospelhorn, Ray Ayers, and Zak Taylor.
"They influenced me in my coaching at the high school level."
Denton played sports under head coaches Randy Wood and Tom Kishpaugh (wrestling) and Ron Woyan and Jim Brockman (football). They were "young, motivated teachers and coaches back then. They inspired me."
Some of the many conference all-star wrestlers he coached were, in the Queen City Conference American Division, Matt Howard, Phil Daniel, Jeremiah Zorb, Scott Reese, and Nick Elliott (1992-93), Matt Howard, Eric Howard, Bryan Hundley, Reese, John Zorb, and Shane Rowling (1993-94), Matt Howard, John Zorb, Jason Barkhurt, Chris Redmond, Adam Mentzel, and McCaffrey (1994-95), Barkhurst and McCaffrey (1995-96), Barkhurst, Jon Padial, McCaffrey, Heggood, Obermeyer, Tim Jenny, and Jeff Snyder (1996-97), Heggood, Arlen Lampe, Jenny, McCaffrey, Sean Luther, and Barkhurst (1997-98), Luther, Obermeyer, Lampe, Greg Stephens, Mike Epps, and Fleager (1998-99), and in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference, Luther, Lampe, and Dustin Clark (1999-2000).
"I just want to do something different. I want more time to help my father and visit my kids who are both in the Marines, and my grandchildren," he said. "I'll be able to do things when I want to. I never really had a summer off, either."
He pointed out he would also like to spend more time with his very close high school friends and teammates - Roy Cowan and Greg Grigsby.
"My life has sort of gone 180-degrees again. During the summer in high school I worked lawn care and I'm going to go back to it with my good friend Mike Heming who I coached wrestling with. The lawn care service is called Holly B, named after my kids.
"Mike (Heming), Bill Barnett, and Donnie Wilson were the mainstay coaches I enjoyed working with. Some of them were with me when I got junior high and youth wrestling started when I saw a need for a feeder program for the high school and those programs really got the high school program going."
"He has been my friend and he inspired me in my teaching of phys. ed. He's been a great example for everybody," said Chris Redmond, former GEHS mat great under Denton.
"He has a tremendous knowledge of the community. He knows the kids and about them and where they come from. He's tireless. He's always here and available and willing to help out all the time," said Dennis Ashworth, GEHS principal and former head football coach.
"Most people don't know he was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year, I think by Coach Magazine," said Dan Simmons, GEHS athletic director. "He'll do anything for you and he's well respected by the staff and kids. We'll all miss him."
Reflecting upon a long and illustrious career, Denton, always a gentleman and a friend to all, said, "I hope I left some of my students and athletes with a good work ethic.
"I've tried to pass on good values and be a good role model.
"I hope people will remember me as a hard worker who was not afraid to work hard and that I tried to make my kids and my athletes better people."