Glenn Rutenbar built the fast-pitch softball program at Bartow High School from the ground up, in a time when slow-pitch softball was the norm across the state, and his team had to play at a local park. Now, his team is a powerhouse, with an equally impressive softball complex to complement it.
The Michigan native was a college baseball player at Spring Arbor University, and went to the NAIA World Series as a senior. He had to learn the game of fast-pitch softball upon starting the program in 1987, and brought many of his baseball concepts to Bartow with success. He rallied parents to help build a field on land borrowed from a corner of a middle school, and since then has built the complex into one considered to be one of the finest in the state.
Over the past 22 years, Rutenbar has earned seven state championship titles (including five consecutive titles from 2002-2006), four state runner-up titles, 14 regional championships and 15 district titles. He ended the 2008 season with a record of 585-108-1. The 2003 team was ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today for its 32-0-1 record, and Bartow had a 63-game winning streak from 2002-2004. More than 60 of his players have earned college scholarships. Rutenbar also had the chance to coach both his daughters, Kelli and Kara.
Rutenbar is the Florida Athletic Coaches Association district softball chairman and a popular speaker at coaches' conferences. He was named Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year in 2002, 2004 and 2006, and was the National Coach of the Year in 2003. Rutenbar is a member of the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame.