Tomorrow, Virginia football will take the field for the final time in the 2017 season as the Cavaliers participate in the Military Bowl. The Hoos turned a 2-10 2016 season into six wins and their first bowl appearance in six years, a resounding success all the way around.
For Chief Petty Officer (retired) Chris Glaser, Sr., the father of first year offensive tackle Chris Glaser, Jr., the matchup with Navy holds personal significance as Glaser Sr. spent 20 years, six months, and 14 days active duty in the Navy.
“But who’s counting?!” Glaser Sr. said via email.
As an FCC(SW/AW), Glaser Sr. worked with Tomahawk and Harpoon cruise weapons systems as a Fire Controlman. He attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer, or E-7, which basically means he’s a badass.
Glaser Sr. spent time in Great Lakes, Illinois, San Diego, California, and Dam Neck, Virginia, but spent the majority of his career (nearly 19 years) in Honolulu, Hawaii, where Chris was born. “My wife, Patricia is from American Samoa but has many family members in Hawaii.” Glaser said. “I was fortunate to be able to stay in Hawaii for so long because having more family members around my wife and children meant more stability and support while I was deployed.”
Deployments in the Navy vary by job and demand, but can range anywhere from two to 12 months at a time.
After retiring, the Glasers moved to Solon, Ohio, where Chris Jr. attended high school and began the recruiting process. He picked up offers from Virginia (duh), Syracuse, Miami (Ohio), Army, and of course, Navy.
Glaser Sr. had conflicting feelings about his son potentially attending the Naval Academy and following his footsteps into service.
Chris had an offer to play at Navy. I had mixed feelings about it. I would have been proud and fearful at the same time. I was never fearful for myself in the Navy, but you get a different feeling when you’re thinking about your own son doing the job. Still, I would have been extremely proud to see my son in uniform doing the hard work of serving our country.
In April of his junior season, Glaser Jr. committed to the nearby Miami (Ohio), deciding to become a Redhawk. When he received an offer from Coach Mendenhall and the Cavaliers in June of 2016, things changed. Quickly, it became clear that Charlottesville was the place for Chris. “Patricia and I never pushed him towards one school or the other because he needed to buy into a program on his own. However, I knew on his first visit that UVa was where I hoped he’d end up.”
By the end of July, Glaser Jr. had decommitted from Miami (Ohio), and decided to attend the University of Virginia. He signed his letter of intent in February of 2017, and Glaser was officially a Hoo.
Glaser Sr. listed several reasons that, as a parent, Virginia was the spot he wanted his son to choose.
From the outstanding education to the beautiful campus, however, the most significant reason for Patricia and me was the coaching and academic support staff. Chris couldn’t have gone wrong with any school that recruited him, but I really wanted him to be surrounded by the UVa staff. I can’t remember verbatim what I told Coach Mendenhall when Chris committed to UVa, but I tried to convey that from a parent’s perspective, there wasn’t a better program in which to turn your son over. Parenting is hard, but very rewarding work. I knew that Coach Mendenhall and his staff would continue helping Chris reach his potential and become a strong man of character who will positively contribute to the world around him.
As the season progressed, Glaser Sr. and Virginia fans started seeing bowl game projections, many of which had the Hoos playing Navy in Annapolis. “Oh, no! Who am I gonna root for?!” Glaser said of his initial reaction to the matchup. “I have to get a split UVa/Navy jersey.” (He didn’t end up going that route).
Glaser Jr. has had a strong end to his first year, starting the last four games and has put himself in a position to compete for the starting spot at right guard next season (earned, not given as Coach Mendenhall says).
Glaser Sr., Patricia, and his daughters Kaitlyn and Jazmin will be in Annapolis to cheer on Chris Jr. this afternoon, as will CWO4 Eric Godlewski and his son Stephen. Godlewski - who is still on active duty - and Glaser Sr. lived in the same neighborhood in Hawaii. While he doesn’t plan to see anyone from his Navy days, he’s hoping to run into someone he hasn’t seen in a long time.
So who will Glaser Sr. be cheering on today? “Family First, so I’ll be rooting for Virginia.”