Gabriel Richard Savors Flawless Finish
December 4, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
All that the Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard volleyball team accomplished this season is still sinking in.
The Fighting Irish became the first Michigan high school team since Marysville in 1998-99 to finish as an undefeated MHSAA champion, rolling to a 42-0 record on the way to winning the Class B title. They achieved this milestone despite playing a schedule loaded with 21 teams ranked at some point in either Class A or Class B – including eventual Class A champion Novi.
And Gabriel Richard did more than just win every match – it dominated, with a set record of 102-6. The Irish won all eight of their MHSAA Tournament matches 3-0. For the season, they beat teams by an average of 9.5 points per set; during the tournament, that average margin of victory bumped up to 11 points.
The program, which last won an MHSAA title in 1991, in Class D, finished a solid 22-7-1 in making the Class B Quarterfinals in 2014. But the jump to history-making, and in this dominating fashion, was extraordinary – and in addition to other accolades, earned Gabriel Richard the honor as November's Applebee's Team of the Month.
“I’ve been thinking back to all of those matches that were really, really close, and easily could’ve gone the other way. There’s something very special about this group of ladies,” said Gabriel Richard coach Mayssa Bazzi, a former standout at Dearborn High and Wayne State who finished her third season coaching the Irish. “Every single one of them is very humble. First and foremost, they’re just good girls. And I just think that helps.”
Each month during the 2015-16 school year, Applebee’s will recognize a Michigan high school team or teams not only for performances on the field of play, but also in the classroom and community.
Over the last two weeks, Bazzi has received congratulations from coaches throughout the state, and especially Gabriel Richard’s Detroit Catholic League. An observation by one who saw her team multiple times has stuck with Bazzi most.
The Irish had plenty of star power – senior Emily Tanski and junior Jurnee Tipton made the Class B all-state first team, while seniors Sydney Burton and Rachel Dunlavy made the second. But that opposing coach noted that the Irish didn’t have one player "full of herself," but instead all of the players were “full of our team.” That selflessness was something Bazzi knew to be true, but this coach put it into words she’ll continue to cherish.
That quality showed as the Fighting Irish took the opportunity to cheer on a former opponent only hours before playing for the Class B title. After word got out that Novi’s fan bus was unable to make the trip to Battle Creek for the MHSAA Finals because of snowy weather, the Gabriel Richard players filled in parts of two rows of the Novi student section at Kellogg Arena to help root on the Wildcats during their match against Romeo.
The successes continue off the court. The Irish carry a grade point average of 3.68, which earned them academic all-state honors from the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, and three seniors earned academic all-state individual honors as well.
A number of Gabriel Richard players also are involved in athletic director Hally Yonko’s school health club that spreads awareness and education on health-related topics. As part of those efforts, they helped raise nearly $3,000 for the school’s annual cancer scholarship fund, led the prayer service after an all-school Mass and helped with the annual walk as well as participated in an activity for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, which encourages smokers to quit.
“Their success brought us all together … our coaches, athletes, student body, parents, staff and community members,” Yonko said. “We would always say a prayer after each game as a team, and in the playoffs the whole student section began joining in – even during the state semi and finals behind the student section bleachers. It was great to witness and see our students supporting each other and the girls play for each other, their school, their families and God.”
Past Teams of the Month:
October: Benton Harbor football – Report
September: Mason and Okemos boys soccer – Report
PHOTO: Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard celebrates last month's Class B Semifinal win over Goodrich.
2023 WISL Award Honoree Glass Continuing to Create Leaders On Court & Off
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 2, 2023
Hailing from one of Michigan’s smallest communities, Laurie Glass has made an impact that continues to connect all over Michigan.
But her impact on women’s athletics began long before a career that has seen the longtime Leland volleyball coach become one of the winningest in her sport in state history.
As a high school junior in 1976, she recruited seven classmates and a coach to form Leland’s first girls sports team – for basketball – and the same group then played volleyball that winter. She was a senior and major contributor when, during their second season, the Comets won the 1978 Class D volleyball championship.
More than four decades later, Glass is a Michigan legend in that sport – a winner of 1,218 matches with Leland and Traverse City Central and three Finals championships with the Comets. She’s also a nationally-recognized voice in volleyball and women’s athletics as a whole – and this year’s MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership honoree for those many and continuing contributions.
“Because I’m a teacher and coach, that’s my desire to help the youth be the best they could be. And if I can impact a coach or impact another district or program, that means I’m affecting more youth in a positive way,” Glass said. “So for me, it’s just the ripple effect; it gets a lot bigger when I’m starting little drops in other places. So I can affect the hundreds of kids that I’ve seen go through Leland, or I can impact the larger audience by impacting coaches or impacting kids in other places that can then impact other people. It allows me a wider audience for wanting to help young women to be their best young woman self in however way I can make that happen.”
Each year, the Representative Council considers the achievements of women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics.
Leland finished 49-13 this past season and reached the Division 4 Quarterfinals. Glass has a record of 1,218-393-122 over more than three decades as a varsity volleyball coach, having led the Comets for a combined 29 seasons over three tenures, the first beginning with the 1989-90 winter season and later picking up with her most recent return for Fall 2010. She also coached Traverse City Central for four seasons beginning in 1991-92.
Glass led Leland to Class D Finals championships in 2002, 2006 and 2015, and runner-up finishes in Class D in 2014 and Division 4 in 2018 and 2019. She was named to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA) Hall of Fame in 2006, and selected as national Coach of the Year in volleyball in 2014 by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. She’s a three-time MIVCA Coach of the Year and was named Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA) Coach of the Year for volleyball in 2015. She also was a finalist for National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) national Coach of the Year in 2014.
Glass has spoken multiple times at the MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Conference and several times at the MIVCA Coaches Clinic, and among various other engagements was the featured speaker at the Nebraska Athletic Association Coaches Clinic. She will receive the Women In Sports Leadership Award during the MHSAA Division 1 Girls Basketball Final on March 18 at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
“Laurie Glass is recognized most on the statewide level for leading one of the most successful volleyball programs in state history. But she is known among her peers most for the way she teaches not only volleyball but life skills to her athletes,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Her leadership creates more leaders, be they the athletes who have the opportunity to play for her or the coaches who learn from her and receive her mentorship.”
Glass’ roots are in one of the most accomplished athletic families in Michigan high school history.
Her father Larry Glass coached Northwestern University’s men’s basketball program from 1963-69, and later took over the Leland girls basketball program and led the Comets to a 388-110 record and three straight Class D Finals championships (1980-82) over two tenures from 1977-91 and 2000-05. Laurie’s sister Rebecca McKee played basketball at Leland and Michigan State University, and her brother Michael Glass played basketball at Lansing Community College before also becoming a high school and college coach.
Laurie also coached and parented arguably the most accomplished volleyball player – and perhaps top female athlete across all sports – in Michigan high school history. Her daughter Alisha Glass-Childress graduated from Leland in 2006 with national records for career kills, aces and blocks, and the first two still top those respective lists. Alisha, also an all-state basketball player, went on to star on the volleyball court at Penn State and as the U.S. Olympic team setter in 2016 in helping that team to the bronze medal.
Larry Glass’ lessons still ring true as Laurie passes them on to another generation. One of her favorite sayings from her father was “you can’t take money out of the bank until you put money in” – in essence, a coach can’t expect athletes to accept criticism or a hard ask if that coach first hasn’t invested in them. Another of her dad’s themes involved making sure players learned fundamentals at young ages and improved on them at all levels, whether they won games or not during those early years. As one of his middle school coaches, that stuck with her, and it remains a basic component of her coaching.
“I’ve always said that we compete with teams that are way more athletic, have all the things on paper that should beat us. And the fact that we know how to be a really good team is what allows us to beat people who on paper should be better than us,” Laurie Glass said. “I’ve always valued the time spent on culture and team because that’s the advantage we hold. We’re never going to be the tallest or most talented – Alisha being the anomaly, of course.”
Laurie Glass has served on the MIVCA Executive Board, including as president, and is a member of the MHSCA and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Locally, her program annually hosts the Forever Dig Abby match in honor of former player Abby Gross, who died after a fight against cancer in 2015. Proceeds most years go to benefit another community member battling the disease, and this past season went to a fund for efforts related to ovarian cancer.
Glass has served nearly 35 years in education and retired from her duties as a behavior intervention specialist and special education teacher in the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District in 2019. She has returned to the school setting, however, and is in her second year as a behavior intervention specialist at Leland.
Glass earned a bachelor’s degree in special education with an endorsement in emotional impairment from Western Michigan University in 1988, and has done master-level coursework in education administration and technology. She also is a certified instructor for the Crisis Prevention Institute. Glass first attended Grand Valley State University and played a season of volleyball before transferring. (NOTE: Glass also coached the Kalamazoo Central varsity for two seasons during the mid-1980s. Those records are unavailable currently but will be added to her overall record when research is complete.)
Past Women In Sports Leadership Award Winners
1990 – Carol Seavoy, L’Anse
1991 – Diane Laffey, Harper Woods
1992 – Patricia Ashby, Scotts
1993 – Jo Lake, Grosse Pointe
1994 – Brenda Gatlin, Detroit
1995 – Jane Bennett, Ann Arbor
1996 – Cheryl Amos-Helmicki, Huntington Woods
1997 – Delores L. Elswick, Detroit
1998 – Karen S. Leinaar, Delton
1999 – Kathy McGee, Flint
2000 – Pat Richardson, Grass Lake
2001 – Suzanne Martin, East Lansing
2002 – Susan Barthold, Kentwood
2003 – Nancy Clark, Flint
2004 – Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, Grand Rapids
2005 – Barbara Redding, Capac
2006 – Melanie Miller, Lansing
2007 – Jan Sander, Warren Woods
2008 – Jane Bos, Grand Rapids
2009 – Gail Ganakas, Flint; Deb VanKuiken, Holly
2010 – Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2011 – Ellen Pugh, West Branch; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2012 – Janet Gillette, Comstock Park
2013 – Barbara Beckett, Traverse City
2014 – Teri Reyburn, DeWitt
2015 – Jean LaClair, Bronson
2016 – Betty Wroubel, Pontiac
2017 – Dottie Davis, Ann Arbor
2018 – Meg Seng, Ann Arbor
2019 – Kris Isom, Adrian
2020 – Nikki Norris, East Lansing
2021 – Dorene Ingalls, St. Ignace
2022 – Lori Hyman, Livonia
PHOTOS (Top) Leland coach Laurie Glass confers with one of her players during the 2019 Division 4 Final at Kellogg Arena. (Middle) Glass passes the championship trophy to her team after the Comets won the 2015 Class D title.