Always a Panther at heart

Glenn Farello (center), coach of Paul VI High School in Fairfax, Va., poses with fans at the Burger King Classic in Erie, Pa., in January. A 1988 Edgewood graduate, Farello is coaching a team that is ranked in the Top 25 nationally.

Glenn Farello grew up following a team with a black-and-gold color scheme and the Panther as a mascot.

Despite being a 1988 graduate of Edgewood, Farello’s father, Frank, was the principal at West Junior High School for decades and a basketball assistant coach at Ashtabula High School, where he was

on Bob Bell’s coaching

staff.

So when Glenn took the head boys basketball position at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2007, he found himself once again involved with that same old color scheme, as well as the Panthers nickname.

“When I called my father to let him know I took the job (at Paul VI), I said, ‘Dad, one of the things you’ll like about this is the colors are black and gold and the nickname is the Panther,’ harking back to his days as an Ashtabula Panther,” Glenn Farello said. “I said I thought that was kind of appropriate.”

While the Ashtabula Panthers experienced plenty of success under Bell and the elder Farello, that’s nothing compared to what Glenn Farello has accomplished in the Washington, D.C., area.

In his overall coaching career, Farello has won four state championships — a Maryland state title in 2002 with Eleanor Roosevelt

High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, and three Virginia state titles with Paul VI

in 2009, 2012, and 2014.

In 19 years, his teams have advanced to 17 state semifinal appearances, and his Panthers have made it to the state championship game the past three seasons, losing the last two.

Paul VI has been consistently ranked in the Top 25 high school programs in the nation the past six seasons, including this year.

Farello, a Grove City College graduate, couldn’t

have even believed he was going to coach one of the nation’s top high school programs.

“I would have laughed at myself,” Farello said if he ever thought he could coach one of the top programs in the nation. “No, I never imagined that I’d land in the hotbed of basketball down here in D.C.and get the opportunity to coach this level of talent and program.

So, it’s been a fun journey.”

A hotbed the D.C. area is. Many collegiate and professional basketball players come from the area, including Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant and two players on the Villanova 2016 NCAA Division I national championship team, Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart.

Farello said if fans watch an ACC, Big Ten and Big East game, a player from the D.C. metropolitan area will likely be on the roster, especially from a school in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, which is considered to be the best conference in the country. 

Paul VI has sent 80 players itself to the collegiate ranks, such as Pittsburgh freshman Corey Maniqault and Louisville freshman V.J. King.

“Here in the D.C. area, this is considered the best in the country,” Farello said. “Just the talent level, the commitment to it, we’re basketball crazy here. It’s just amazing the amount of talent here, but also just the programs that are

here, the high school programs, it’s almost like a mini-college league that we’re involved in.”

Because of the program’s stature, the Panthers find themselves heading out of state to compete against high-quality opponents, going to tournaments like the Morgantown Holiday Classic in Morgantown, West Virginia, and the Slam Dunk to the Beach in Lewes, Delaware.

The one tournament during this season that really stood out for Farello, though, was the 2017 Burger King Classic in Erie, Pennsylvania. 

The tournament, held on Jan. 13 and 14, was the closest Farello and any of his teams had played to his hometown.

The proximity to Ashtabula was a big factor in Farello selecting to play at the Burger King Classic.

Over the two days, 30 to 40 people from Ashtabula County made the trip to see his Panthers beat Villa Angela-St. Joseph, 72-59, and Westerville South, 58-47.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for my parents to be able to see us play and bring our guys close to home and have some friends and family be able to attend,” Farello said. “It was just really exciting to see so many familiar faces. So yeah, that was really a highlight of the season, and it was a great tournament.”

It was one of the highlights for a team that could be onto something special.

The Panthers defeated DeMatha (Hyattsville, Maryland) 79-59 on Monday night in their regular-season finale, improving to 24-4 overall, 15-3 in the WCAC and sharing first place with Gonzaga College High School.

With the WCAC conference and VIS tournaments looming, Farello called the 2016-2017 team special.

It could become as special as the 2012 team that became the first in WCAC history to finish conference play 21-0 and go 35-3 overall.

“I had a coach tell me years ago, ‘You may not always win championships, but you

can have championship teams,’ and this team, I think, has a championship look about it,” Farello said. “They may not bring home the hardware because you always have to be somewhat lucky

to win everything,

but I know this team

is doing everything right. That’s why I think they measure up against any of the

best teams that we’ve had.”

Farello should have plenty of teams to

compare and contrast by the time his coaching career is over.

At 46 years old, Farello already boasts a 387-169 career record.

And if he has his way, Farello will continue to improve upon that mark.

The Ashtabula native said he has plenty of left in the tank to continue to coach the Panthers, providing the school will still have him.

“I don’t plan on stopping,” Farello said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be healthy enough and the school still wants me around, I plan on being here for as long as I can be.”