MALTA – It was an emotional weekend for past, present and even future student-athletes in the Malta community after the passing of longtime coach and educator Glenn Flatt on Thursday. He was 81 years old.
Flatt, who grew up in Fort Benton and starred on the Longhorns’ football, basketball and track and field teams, was a member of the Montana State 1956 national championship-winning football team. Following college at MSU, he taught for 36 years at Malta High School and coached football, basketball and track and field, while also serving as the athletic director for the Mustangs.
“Glenn has been so important to our community from the early 1960s when he first started as our head coach to the time he got on the bus and headed to the state track meet this year,” said Malta athletic director and former football coach Scott King. “I just can’t imagine our athletic program without Glenn. I’m just struggling with the idea that I don’t have somebody to talk to, my issues, because I stepped into Glenn’s shoes as the athletic director and the football coach, but he was a mentor and a friend. He was really somebody that I could confide in, because there would be issues that would come along as a sports administrator that only really he could understand and he was someone I could talk to and reference.”
“It’s a complete surprise to us,” added Malta track and field coach Tad Schye. “Coach Flatt, since his retirement, has been volunteer coaching so it’s almost like he didn’t retire at all from coaching. I’m just so used to him being around that this really affects our coaches, it affects our kids and community – someone who has dedicated this much to the athletics and the school at Malta, it’s really a loss.”
Flatt guided the Malta football team, then Class A, to a runner-up finish in 1976 (a 22-20 loss to rival Glasgow), as well as a second-place finish the following season (a 21-0 defeat against Glendive). KMMR radio broadcaster Greg Kielb says he can still remember his first encounter with Flatt on the gridiron.
“I moved here in 1974 right out of broadcast school, he was the head football coach at Malta High – he was kind of like Tom Landry, he was the only football coach I knew here until 1989 – but Glenn was my first interview here,” said Kielb. “I remember when he walked in he had that big smile on his face and he always had that twinkle in his eye forever. I was always envious of his voice, he had a great radio voice. He sounded like a gruff football player and a good sportscaster. He was always upbeat about his teams and he was just a good guy.”
Flatt’s wrestling programs won four state titles in the 1960s, including three straight from 1964 to 1966. The Mustangs split the B/C team title with Big Sandy and Baker in 1969.
But it was track and field where Flatt cemented arguably his greatest legacy, serving as the head coach before his retirement in 2013. Still, Flatt volunteered with the Mustangs and M-ettes program, including their competition in Butte at the 2017 Class B track and field championships.
“That’s definitely true and even in later years when he wasn’t as mobile as he had been, he would drive over by the discus cage and he couldn’t resist, he would end up out of his vehicle and working with people,” laughed Schye. “His dedication and his dedication to the youth, and he helped kids from all over. I can remember 20 years ago we would have a kid come (to Malta) who didn’t have a javelin coach at their school because they were from a Class C school, and Coach Flatt would meet with them on Sundays and help them.”
“I can remember he told me at one time,” continued Schye, “this was when we were doing pretty well in track and field and we got in second place in the girls and we were going to be back (the following season), and he told me, ‘Coach Schye, I’m with you until you’re done coaching.’ Yeah, that makes me sad.”
King, whose first encounter with Flatt was as head coach of the local Harlem Wildcats – a game his team lost to Flatt’s Mustangs 17-7 – says Flatt racked up nearly 140 wins during his time as the Mustangs’ football coach, winning four league titles along the way. But the wins, awards and championships are only a small view into the impact Flatt leaves on the Malta community, according to King.
“We can always talk about numbers – the number of years he coached, the number of wins or championships – but the number that can’t be measured is the number of student-athletes influenced by Glenn and his coaching style and the dedication he brought to his profession. Those things are not measurable,” said King. “Once you get to that position, it speaks volumes to the impact that somebody has had on the student-athletes that they coached.”
Flatt was honored by the Montana Coaches Association on numerous occasions, winning coach of the year and being placed in the MCA hall of fame.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Malta High School gymnasium.