Greg Spencer, a former head football coach and automotive teacher at Cimarron-Memorial High School who colleagues said influenced coaching throughout Southern Nevada, died Friday of esophageal cancer. He was 52.
“In the 24 years I’ve known him, I never had a negative conversation with him,” Cimarron athletic director Calvin Valvo said. “You meet those kinds of people once in a lifetime.”
After playing guard at UNLV in the late 1970s, Spencer coached football at Chaparral and Valley in the 1980s.
He then helped open Cimarron, serving as head coach for the Spartans from the school’s inception in 1991 until 2000.
Cimarron was 75-31 during his tenure, winning Class 4A state titles in 1998 and 1999 and reaching the championship game in 1997.
Cimarron junior studies teacher Ron Smeltzer was Spencer’s offensive line coach at UNLV, then worked under Spencer as offensive coordinator for the Spartans during their 1990s dynasty.
“I’ve never met a coach who was so into the game as he was,” Smeltzer said.
Valvo, who also worked with Spencer at Valley, said “hard-nosed” and “disciplined” play defined Spencer’s teams.
“They played hard from the first whistle to the last whistle,” he said. “That’s the way he coached (and) the way he taught.”
Spencer also served as Cimarron’s head track coach when the school opened and later as an assistant.
Current football head coaches who played for Spencer include Del Sol’s Preston Goroff and Silverado’s Andy Ostolaza while students at Valley and Coronado’s John Mannion while a student at Chaparral.
“I can’t even put into words what the guy meant to me,” Goroff said. “He was like a second father to me. He’s the reason I became a coach. He put Las Vegas football on the map, as far as I’m concerned. He’ll never be forgotten.”
Current Cimarron head coach Rod Vollan credited Spencer with establishing football in Southern Nevada as equal to and sometimes better than the North, which dominated the early 1990s.
“Beneath that gruff exterior was quite a problem solver,” said Vollan, who was a varsity assistant under Spencer for three seasons. “As a coach, you wanted to emulate his preparation.”
Spencer continued to teach automotive and driver’s education courses at Cimarron until his death.
Multiple sources said Spencer’s family has requested privacy. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 8 in Cimarron’s auditorium. The public is invited.
He is survived by wife Debra, sons Chase and Neil and daughter Jennifer.
Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.In-depth high school sports coverage