Monday, September 17, 2001 Updated: September 19, 2:48 PM ET
Glick lost his life, but won his final bout
By Adrian Wojnarowski Special to ESPN.com
Jeremy Glick had gone off to college and lost touch with his sensei, Nagaysu Ogasawara. They had trained
judo for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours together over the years, a
little curly-haired pipsqueak transforming into a 6-foot-2, 220 pound black
Kordell Stewart and Jerome Bettis at candlelight vigil for those who died on United Flight 93.
Years later in 1992, Ogasawara found Glick in the
City College of San Francisco gymnasium, without a team, without a coach,
and without a doubt in the world he was going to win a national college judo
championship for the University of Rochester.
"Actually," Ogasawara said over the telephone last week, "he was the
team. ... the coach, too."
Ogasawara had gone to the national championships nine years ago to
coach West Point's Cadets but ended up in the corner of his old student,
marveling over Glick winning a title his university never bothered to keep
on record. One at a time, each foe dropped to Jeremy Glick. One at time, he beat
them. All the way to the end, all the way to last week on United
Flight 93, bound Newark to Eternity.
This was the solace his wife, Lyzbeth, had on Tuesday morning,
talking to her husband on the telephone. Two planes had crashed into the
World Trade Center, a third burned into the side of the Pentagon, and now
Jeremy, 31, was on Flight 93, a plane terrorists had re-routed for the White
House, or the Capitol, or perhaps Air Force One. They talked for 20 minutes, with him telling his wife he had hatched a plan with two passengers -- presumably Thomas Burnett and Mark Bingham -- to charge the terrorists
flying the plane and crash the plane out of harm's way on the ground.
"Take care of Emmy," Jeremy Glick told Lyz, thinking to the end of
his baby daughter, and soon, he told his wife goodbye. She passed the telephone
to her father because she couldn't bear to hear the rest. He listened to
the muffled screams, the sounds of a struggle, and soon the voices were gone
and Flight 93 crashed into the corn fields of rural Pennsylvania.
"All I can think is that it's too bad he didn't know how to handle a
plane," Ogasawara said. "Because he smashed those people right away. Maybe
he had help with others on the plane, but I know he wouldn't have needed it.
Three people with knives? It would've been no problem for him."
Word started to spread to old friends that there was a Jeremy Glick on the fateful flight, and nobody had to hear it twice to believe it was
their Jeremy Glick. He was an all-state wrestler for Saddle River Day School
in Northern, N.J., a judo champion. Josh Denbeaux, a lawyer and high
school buddy of Jeremy's oldest brother, Jonah, insisted: "Those attackers are
pretty f----, sorry, because they ran into the toughest son of a bitch I've
ever known ... He wasn't just going to be fighting them, he
was going to be the leader of it."
For this, Lyz Glick is grateful. In her mind, this was the reason
her husband was destined to die on that flight: so others could be saved.
Always, they'll remember him as a hero. Always, they'll remember him
bursting to the front of the plane, ending his life as he long lived it:
Full of fire, fearless and ultimately, for everyone else.
It's just a shame Jeremy couldn't fly the plane, too. ”
— Joe Augineillo, Glick's high school soccer coach
"Immediately, I knew he was one of the guys who took them down,"
said Joe Augineillo, who coached Glick's high school soccer team. "I guarantee it. He was a tough, hard-nosed kid. He was my
captain, the protector on my team, and if you gave him a bloody nose, and
knocked his teeth out, he'd still be coming after you again. He wasn't the
most talented kid on the team, but Lord, you never wanted to be in that
Sometimes, we wonder the value of sports. What are they teaching
kids? What are the lessons learned? Well, there's a judo sensei and high
school soccer coach in Northern New Jersey praying something they imparted
on Glick benefited him on Flight 93.
Nevertheless, Jeremy, Thomas Burnett
and Mark Bingham have to be remembered among the greatest champions American
sports have ever produced. Who knows where our country would be without him
and the heroes of Flight 93? Who knows what would still be standing, who
would still be alive?
"All I did was cry (Wednesday) morning," Augineillo said, "but the
only time I could come close to smiling was imagining sitting next to Jeremy
on the plane. I could hear him, saying, 'Aug, let's get these (bleeping)
guys.' I'm sure they pounded the (crap) of them."
"It's just a shame Jeremy couldn't fly the plane, too."
Jeremy told his wife he had his plastic butter knife left from
breakfast with him, reaching for a little humor in the darkest moment of his
life. Soon, he was gone, pushing for the cockpit, pushing for the
terrorists, pushing for the end with Bingham of San Francisco and Burnett of San Ramon, Calif.
never made it to the White House, the Capitol, Air Force One or wherever it
was that they intended to crash on their one-way ticket to Hell. Out of
Flight 93, three came Americans and the people remembering the wrestling and
judo champion on board understood those terrorist bastards never had a
chance: Here rushed Jeremy Glick, the sweetest, surest, toughest SOB they
had ever known.
Adrian Wojnarowski is a columnist for The Record (N.J.) and a regular
contributor to ESPN.com.