Glory Moon of Cresskill is a 2024 Charlie McGill Scholar.
Story by Darren Cooper / NorthJerseySports

Go ahead, ask him about the name.

Glory Moon. Glory Won (pronounced “Juan”) Moon to be exact. His older brother is Eugene, a tennis standout at Cresskill who just graduated from Villanova.

Glory Moon sounds like the name of a heroic video game character, a leading man in a sci-fi movie franchise or a YouTuber who wears a signature hat. But in the Moon house, the name reflects the family’s religious background.

“They just got Glory from the Bible,” Moon said. “Glory to God and all that, and who knows, maybe he could be the chosen one?”

“It was my mother and I,” Moon’s father, Shin, explained. “There’s a Bible story where parents are asking Jesus why their child was born disabled and Jesus says to ensure the glory. We said, you know, there must be a reason for this, so we named him Glory.”

Growing up, Glory felt timid. He played a lot of video games in his house − League of Legends, Valorant. He got picked on a lot by his classmates. It’s not easy being the Korean kid with a Nub, you know.

“When I was young, I would say that I could do something and they would say, you can’t because you don’t have a hand,” Glory said. “Even today, I still get told that.”

Glory got into a handful of fights defending himself. One of those incidents changed his life forever.

How he got into football

Go ahead, ask him about football.

Glory was in middle school and got into a scrap with an older kid. Who and why is no longer important, even though he remembers.

What was important was that Quinn is in charge of the school’s discipline. He saw the fight and suspended Glory for a few days from school. His parents were not happy.

But Quinn had a new idea.

“He was like, maybe we can use you on the football team, we don’t have a big team,” Glory remembered. “When he first told me that I was like no way, but going into high school my dad was like, maybe you should try it. I hesitated a lot, but I decided why not? I had done tae kwon do, so I wasn’t afraid of physical contact. I said, let’s give it a shot.”

First, the Cresskill coaches put Glory at left guard, figuring his strong side was better, but then they realized defensive linemen would just attack Nub. So they moved Glory to center. That way he was in the middle of the offense.

Cougars line coach Mike McCourt worked with Glory on his technique. Athletic trainer Anthony DeMarco would cover Nub with some padded tape for games and practices, and also rigged up a special glove/oven mitt he could wear to lift weights.

“He would use his right arm,” Quinn said. “It’s not like it’s not there. In fact, as a coach and a teacher, walking around, he’ll hit you with a jab every now and then. It was a little different to teach him to pass block and run block, but he was one of our leading tacklers on the line.”

Making opponents take notice

Go ahead, ask him about looking different.

With medical science advancing at such an incredible rate, did he ever think of getting an artificial hand, or even a pectoral muscle? Of course, it came up.

“My parents did tell me it was an option,” Glory said.

They said he could wait until he was done growing, but it was not an option he was comfortable with.

“I didn’t want to do any of that,” Glory said. “I didn’t want to change the way my body was made. I’ve adjusted well enough to where I am right now and don’t notice any difference.”

His football teammates may notice a difference in the 5-foot-11 Glory today. He played in the fall around 250 pounds. He’s now lean and 180 pounds, trying to learn some golf (yeah, Nub can help hold a club). He lost the weight through diet – although he loves his Korean food – and exercise.

“I just didn’t think I needed to be 250 pounds anymore,” Glory said. “250 was a lot.”

About the only thing that appears to cause Glory a hint of embarrassment is the recognition he got. Cresskill’s rivals recognized him from either track or earlier football games.

“We were in a scrimmage playing some teams from Hudson County who hadn’t seen Glory before,” Quinn said. “After the scrimmage, one of the guys came over and said, ‘Dude, you kicked my butt today.’ He gets that respect from people. He doesn’t go around advertising what he’s done. It’s just who he is.”

When Glory is reminded about those moments, he just smiles.

“Yeah, that happened,” he said.

What’s next?

Go ahead, it’s time, ask him about his future.

Glory was school president at Cresskill, an honor roll student, and also sang in the choir. He is going to George Washington University to study business, although he admits there’s a part of him that is thinking about mechanical engineering.

He thinks about his journey a lot, his struggles growing up, with so much ahead of him.

“Even though I was born with a disability, I never viewed myself as someone with a disability,” Glory said. “I would see other kids and see them as equals compared to me. I never saw them as people with two hands. I saw people working harder than me and that just motivated me even more. I never saw my arm as something that got in my way.”

Now we can ask the biggest question: Was he ever scared? Scared of getting hurt? Scared of being laughed at? Scared of failing?

“I was scared… I was scared of a lot of things growing up,” Glory said. “But the biggest thing I was scared of going into high school was missing out on my potential. I grew up in a Christian house. I believe God gave me this hand for reason.”

Glory continues. He was waiting for this question.

“I didn’t want to miss out on any of it, so if everyday, if I didn’t work out or get my nutrition right, it would make me scared because maybe I wasn’t reaching my best ability, even on the football field, I would finish practice in the morning and come back and do the same drills in the afternoon. In the back of my head, I was scared of that feeling that I wasn’t the best that I could be, and maybe I could be a little better every day or better the next week. I just wanted to try my best to achieve that.”

For Glory Moon, that’s the best answer to every question.