When Kaden Glynn steps onto the Pinnacle Bank Arena court Saturday afternoon against the Elkhorn Antlers in the Class B state championship, the Beatrice senior will have a special message written on his shoes.
It’s for a special girl.
The message written with a black sharpie marker reads “Brynn” on the left shoe; “3.11.18” on the right.
Brynn is Glynn’s little sister, and March 11, 2018 is her birthday. Birthdays are usually happy moments, but in this instance, Glynn uses it as motivation. A way of remembering a sister he never met.
When Glynn was a freshman at Johnson-Brock, the family was pregnant. They were having another girl. But there were complications with the pregnancy, and Brynn was born early and passed away on her birthday.
“I didn’t even know she was having the baby that night,” Glynn said. “Then the next morning when I woke up, I had a bunch of texts from my sisters that my sister was born in the middle of the night, and she had passed away.
“So I didn’t get a chance to meet her, but everyone else in my family did and that kind of hit me kind of hard.”
It was tough on the entire family. And it still is. It took time for the family to return to where it once was.
“It was a long time before our family was normal again, it still sometimes isn’t,” Glynn said. “It was just really hard on our family, and sometimes I like to use it as motivation when things get hard.”
With his sister right there with him, Glynn and the rest of the Orangemen will take on Elkhorn for the Class B crown, and it’s going to be tough.
“Nobody except for us gave us a chance to be here, so it’s good for us and really nice to be back in a state championship again,” Glynn said.
Glynn is no stranger to the state basketball tournament — he’s made it in three of his four seasons. He won a state football and basketball championship as a sophomore at Johnson-Brock, where he was for his first two years of high school. After moving to Beatrice, he’s back in Lincoln for his senior campaign, and he wants to make the most of it.
Beatrice head coach Clark Ribble says Glynn brings a certain conviction on the court. All that experience on big stages has made him into the leader he is today.
“He’s a very confident kid on the court, and I think that comes from a lot of the success he’s had before,” Ribble said. “The other big thing that he brings for us is stability. So when things are kind of going crazy on the court, I know Kaden is going to make the right decision for our team — not for him, but for us.”
Glynn likes to play unselfish basketball. He wants to find his teammates. That mentality comes naturally to him, he said. He made the PBA crowd go “OH” when he zipped an on-target behind-the-back pass against Waverly.
Glynn credits his father, Josh, with instilling the “distributor” in him on the basketball court.
“From a young age my dad taught me that it’s always good to get your teammates involved before yourself, so I always took that and ran with it,” Glynn said.
Although he excels on the basketball court, Glynn is committed to play football at Morningside College. He was recruited to be a tight end/hybrid on offense. The physicality helps him on the basketball court, too.
“I’d say I like basketball more, but football is what I ended up probably being better at,” Glynn said. “It helps because sometimes you take hits and give hits.”
So when Glynn steps on the court for pregame warmups on Saturday, he’ll be keeping his mind on the job at hand.
“I just try to think that it’s just a game and I’ve been here a million times,” he said. “I’ve been in a championship before and a lot of my teammates haven’t, so I want to help keep them calm and in the game. Just be a leader.”
There will be ups and downs in the game. Glynn knows that. But it’s how he reacts to those moments that will help determine if he get his hands on a championship basketball plaque for a second time in his career.
And Brynn will be right there along for the ride.
“It reminds me that I’m playing for more than just basketball,” Glynn said of the message written on his shoes, “I’m playing for more than just a game.”