Leland Reloads, Returns to Final Week

November 13, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

LELAND – It’s championship week in the MHSAA volleyball tournament – and defending Class D champion Leland is hoping it’s another November to remember.

Leland captured its sixth consecutive Regional on Thursday with a hard-fought 25-15, 25-23, 25-22 triumph over Fife Lake Forest Area. The Comets now face Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in a Quarterfinal on Tuesday at Buckley. A win would advance Leland to the Final Four at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek for the fourth year in a row, and it would also be the 1,000th career victory for coach Laurie Glass.

The Comets are enjoying success with a rebuilt lineup in 2016. Leland lost three senior starters off last November’s title team, including all-staters Maddie Trumbull and Eva Grobbel, who led the squad in kills and blocks. Then, during the summer, the Comets lost returning letterwinner Rachel Bechtel to a knee injury.

Glass adjusted, aided by a strong sophomore class that’s put Leland (41-10-4) in the title hunt again. Five sophomores played considerable minutes Thursday, including two, Allie Martin and Ella Siddall, who were starters a year ago.

With all that youth, Glass wondered prior to the season about chemistry, and how the underclassmen would “mesh” with the six seniors. Turns out, she had nothing to worry about.

“This team has been all in since day one,” she said.

The Regional title was proof. It took a team effort to beat Forest Area.

“I think the strength of this team is the bond, the relationships we have with each other,” Siddall said afterwards. “We’ve worked so hard together – from June until now – to get better. That’s been our goal, and I think we’ve accomplished it. I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”

Glass, who’s won MHSAA Finals championships as a player and coach at Leland, was feeling a deep sense of pride as she watched her players receive their medals Thursday night.

“It never gets old,” she said. “I’m just so thankful that this group, which has worked super hard, had a chance to feel what it’s like to get that medal. They earned it, they deserved it. They put in the time and energy, mentally and physically, to get it done. I don’t think you could want more as a coach then to watch the kids reap the benefits of their hard work.”

The win over Forest Area did not come easy. Martin, based on her experience last season, expected as much.

“The farther you get in the playoffs, the more you have to battle because the better the teams get,” she said. “They’re (Forest Area) a very good team. They were digging everything. It was fun to play competition like that.”

Glass told her Comets, ranked No. 3 in the coaches’ poll, that they should always enjoy playing a quality foe.

“I said, ‘Isn’t it much more fun to play a game that’s on the line then to play in a blowout that doesn’t feel great when you’re done?’” she said. “When it’s tight we should be going, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever.’ I thought we played like that tonight. We embraced it.

“I thought it was going to be exactly what it was,” she added. “I thought they were going to dig a ton of balls. I thought they were going to bring it at us hard. I thought we were going to have to serve pretty well to keep them out of their offense. And I thought we were going to have to dig.”

And that’s what happened in a match that featured several lengthy volleys.

“They showed intensity, they showed perseverance,” senior libero Julie Bardenhagen said. “We just had to stick to what we do best on our side (of the net).”

Martin, Siddall, Bardenhagen and junior Rowan Wilson gained valuable experience a year ago, and they’ve been leading the charge this season. Statistically, Martin leads in kills (534) and aces (114) and is second in digs (479). Siddall is tops in assists (1,100), Bardenhagen in digs (514). Wilson is second in kills (373) and third in digs (475).

But there’s so much more, too. On Thursday, senior Kira Metcalf (six kills), and sophomores Margie Stowe (12 digs, two aces), Maddy Grosvenor (five kills, one ace) and Hanna Elwell (nine kills) displayed their capabilities.

Glass is now a win away from joining an exclusive group of coaches. Only 10 other Michigan high school volleyball coaches have achieved 1,000 or more career wins.

Glass said when she looks back it’s the players, not the wins, that stand out.

“I remember the girls,” she said, “and the things they went through, the challenges they overcame, the mental things they had to surpass in order to be their better self. I’ve watched the transformation of these girls from the middle school right on through our program – under guidance of great people below me. It’s been a great experience. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, doing anything else.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at dennischase@charter.net with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Leland setter Ella Siddall prepares to pass to a teammate approaching the net. (Middle) Libero Julie Bardenhagen receives during a match this season. (Photos by Sarah Grosvenor.)

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 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.