Lakewood Leader Joins 1,000-Win Club

September 27, 2017

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

LAKE ODESSA – Kellie Rowland doesn’t sugarcoat anything when it comes to the hundreds of players she has coached and mentored over 23 seasons.

The longtime Lakewood High School volleyball coach lets players know exactly what she thinks, and it’s a style that has served her well in helping produce one of the most successful programs in the state.

“I’m a highly energetic person, and I’m very black and white,” Rowland said. “I tell it just the way it is, and the girls appreciate that. They would much rather know than trying to guess how I’m feeling.”

Rowland recently joined an elite class of coaches after recording her 1,000th victory on Sept. 9 at the East Kentwood Invitational with a 2-0 win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

She is one of only 12 coaches statewide to reach the 1,000 win plateau. Jodi Manore of Temperance-Bedford tops the list and had 1,927 victories entering this season.

Several of Rowland’s former players were in attendance to witness the coaching milestone.

“One thousand wins is a lot of wins, but more than that it’s been the relationships,” Rowland said. “All the girls that came back that evening, and seeing them again as adults and parents and professionals, meant more to me than any single victory.”

Rowland entered the season with a 981-149 record in her 22 seasons at the helm; she led the Vikings from 1991-2002 and then took the program back over in 2009. Her youngest son, Cameron, clued her in to how close she was.

“I don’t keep track,” she said. “I always have to look up my wins and losses because I truly believe in one season at a time and one match at a time. My youngest son reminded me of how many I needed or I would not have known that.”

Lakewood athletic director Mike Quinn said Rowland’s dedication and commitment to her players has had a profound effect on the program.

“Her coaching goes beyond the wins she has accumulated,” he said. “She just has a rapport with all of the girls and she is such a student of the game that she is involved in. I believe she would be just as successful no matter what sport she coached. She just happened to fall into volleyball.

“Kellie is one of the most competitive people you’ll ever meet, but she prepares so well that winning becomes a by-product of everything else that they do. She cares so much about Lakewood volleyball and the impact that it has on our community.”

During her career, the Vikings have won countless league championships, in addition to 10 MHSAA Regional titles, three Finals runner-up finishes and a Class B championship in 2012.

They’ve reached the Finals in three of the past five seasons.

“I’ve been real fortunate,” Rowland said. “I’ve had just dedicated athletes. I can’t say that I’ve had Big Ten recruits, but they work so hard every day to achieve the ultimate goal of trying to win a state championship.”

Multiple past standouts have followed their Lakewood mentor into coach. Chelsea Lake finished her career in 2010 as a Miss Volleyball Award candidate playing middle for the Vikings, and took what she learned from Rowland into her playing career at Cornerstone University. She’s now an assistant coach for the

“I wouldn't be where I am today without her or have had the volleyball career I did if she wasn't my coach,” Lake said. “People who have never had her as a coach fear her and think she is too intense, but in reality she cares so much about her players and believes in them. That passion and love for them (is) why she pushes every single one of her players to be the best they can be. Why do something half-heartedly?

“She demands the most out of you, day in and day out, and by the end of practice you've given more than you ever thought you could,” Lake added, recalling changing shirts midway through every practice because the first was soaked with sweat. “She instills confidence in her players to the point you can walk into any gym and know you worked 10 times harder than anyone else in that gym and deserve to win.”

The buy-in starts early. Lake recalled as a junior starting alongside another junior and four freshmen, with a junior defensive specialist and a fifth freshman coming off the bench. Those freshmen went on to make up the nucleus of Lakewood’s Class B title-winning team in 2012.

“Kellie has built the Lakewood program from the ground up. She gets the young girls to buy into the program, and by the time they're freshmen they're better than most other schools' JV and varsity players,” Lake said. “Therefore, when they're seniors, they're college-type players.

“She knows how to develop kids and as long as Kellie is at the helm, that program will continue to grow, dominate, and flourish under her.”

Senior Lisa Hewitt said Rowland maintains high expectations for every team.

“She never expects anything less than perfection from us,” she said. “She always demands us to be our best 100 percent of the time. She is definitely deserving of her 1,000 wins.”

And Erica Potter, another of six seniors on this year’s squad, was happy to be a part of a special moment for Rowland.

“I think we were all very proud of her for reaching that great achievement, and she’s a great coach,” Potter said. “She’s always pushing us to be our best every day at practice, and she makes us work hard no matter what.”

This year’s team is vying for another trip to the MHSAA Finals after falling short in the Class B championship match a year ago against North Branch.

Lakewood entered this week ranked third in Class B, boasting an impressive 31-4 mark.

“They are playing well, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Rowland said. “We have a new setter on the court after Gabi (Shellenbarger) graduated and we had her for four years. That setter spot is so crucial to a team, so we are still working through a lot of that.”

The seniors understand the path to the Finals is a process.

“We definitely talk about making it to the state finals because we’ve been there twice, and that’s certainly our goal, but we try to take it one match at a time,” Potter said. “We want to look at the big picture, but we can’t get too ahead of ourselves.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Lakewood coach Kellie Rowland celebrates with her team after last season’s Class B Semifinal win over Cadillac. (Middle) Rowland provides instruction during the first set of the 2012 championship match victory.

2023 WISL Award Honoree Glass Continuing to Create Leaders On Court & Off

By Geoff Kimmerly 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 passes the championship trophy to her team after the Comets won the 2015 Class D title.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.