Novi Holds On to Claim Class A Again

November 19, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – At the start of the second set Saturday, just like many times this season, Novi senior Ally Cummings stood surrounded on the court by teammates who still have another season of high school volleyball ahead of them.

During those rotations, Cummings was the only player on the floor who knew what it was like for the Wildcats to finish a season not in the Class A championship match.

They played in their third straight Saturday, and as it should be, against one of their toughest opponents this fall in Rockford. But that made Novi only enjoy the afternoon more, as it won its second straight championship by downing the Rams 3-1.

Adding in this fall’s 53-1 record, the Wildcats are 158-10 over the last three seasons. Cummings, senior Emmy Robinson and junior Erin O’Leary have been the lineup’s constants throughout the run.

“It just really comes down to the chemistry on the team,” Cummings said. “If you have an amazing team with amazing players, but the chemistry is off, you’re not going to be successful. The past four years I’ve played here, it’s been like family for us. So I’m sure even when I graduate, and these people start to graduate as well, it’s still going to be as successful.”

Novi – top-ranked entering the postseason for the second year in a row – talks about creating its own pressure and blocking out the “outside noise” of others’ expectations.

Trying to match this season’s success would be an impressive goal.

The lone loss was to No. 2 Clarkston, 2-1, and the Wildcats gave up only seven sets this season – including the second of the championship match to Rockford. Only No. 6 Northville in the District Final also took a set from Novi during the postseason.

During coach Jennifer Cottrill’s first two years running the program, 2012 and 2013, Novi won league titles but lost to Northville in District Finals. 

“It’s overwhelming. (This success is) not something that you ever expect, not something that we ever really talk about,” Cottrill said. “We just try to stay in the moment. But if you take a step back, it’s amazing, and it’s all because of the players in the program who have changed the culture and have tremendous leadership skills, expectations of themselves and their teammates … and we’re a family.

“We love each other, from top to bottom, and we like to win. So that motivates you to keep winning, when you have that success.”

But Rockford didn't make adding to it easy Saturday.

The Rams (48-9-1) entered the postseason ranked No. 5 and had beaten four of the top 10 teams in Class A and the top two in Class B entering the weekend. Following junior setter Hailey Delacher, who had 43 assists, Rockford forced many of the 11 lead changes and 29 ties over the four sets before falling 25-23, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22.

Cottrill noted that Rockford’s quick sets and two strong middles in junior Olivia Rademacher (12 kills, five blocks) and senior Cassandra Smigel (11 kills, four blocks) gave her team the most trouble. Junior outside hitter Sara Majerle added 11 kills as well, and junior libero Mykayla Vallad had 27 digs.

“I think we are just a good team, and we are a very well-balanced team. Five good hitters and we play good defense, and I think we did a good job of blocking today as well,” said Rockford coach Kelly Delacher, also Hailey’s dad.

O’Leary had 33 assists, with junior Abryanna Cannon leading with 20 kills, Cummings adding 10 and four blocks and Robinson tallying seven blocks. Junior libero Claire Pinkerton had 21 digs.

In Cannon, O’Leary and Hailey Delacher, the Class A Final may have featured three candidates for next year’s Miss Volleyball Award – while setting up the potential for another narrative twist.

Novi faced Romeo in the 2014 Final and then again in 2015, losing the first time but winning the rematch. With both of Saturday’s finalists expected to return so much next fall, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them meet again with the championship on the line.

Combined, the teams graduate only nine seniors – five for Novi and four from Rockford.

“Those seniors provided us with great leadership, and we really got on their backs at the end of the season this year. They will be tough to replace,” Kelly Delacher said. “That being said, I have a great group of juniors and I’m excited about a couple of sophomores coming in. I feel like we can be competitive next year as well.”

Novi will be prepared.

“All they know is pressure. All they’ve known is that target on your back, everyone coming for you, you get everyone’s best game,” Cottrill said of her team. “So you get used to it, and you get stronger mentally playing with a target on your back. I’m not saying it’s easy. But you get accustomed to it.”

Click for the full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Novi coach Jennifer Cottrill hoists the Class A championship trophy as her players surround her Saturday. (Middle) The Wildcats' Abryanna Cannon attempts to tip the ball over the net with Rockford's Olivia Rademacher (5) and Zoe Anderson (13) defending.

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.