Peformance: Ida's Taylor Wegener

November 14, 2019

Taylor Wegener
Ida senior – Volleyball

The Bluestreaks’ four-year middle and outside hitter had a career-high and state record book-qualifying 34 kills in Thursday’s 3-2 Division 2 District Final win over Carleton Airport, earning the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.” The previous weekend, Wegener became the 24th player in state history to go over 2,000 kills, and after Tuesday’s Regional Semifinal win over Flat Rock has 2,098 – good for 16th most in MHSAA history since the move to rally scoring in 2004-05.

The 5-foot-11 Wegener has 630 kills this season – averaging 5.5 per game – and is scoring on nearly 50 percent (.489 kill percentage) of her attacks. She also has a career-high 93 service aces this season and is up to 287 for her career, just three shy of making the record book in that category. She has added 260 career blocks and made the Division 2/Class B all-state second team the last two seasons. The Bluestreaks are 41-7-1 and will face Dearborn Divine Child in Thursday’s Regional Final at Airport with an opportunity to advance to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2008.

Wegener’s historic abilities are not reserved for the fall. She will play her fourth season of varsity basketball this winter and is 35 points from 1,000 for her career and 314 from setting the school scoring record; she averaged 18.4 points per game as a junior. Wegener also brings championship experience to those teams from a third sport – she played only one season of high school softball, as a freshman in 2017, but helped that team to the Division 2 title including going 3-for-4 in the championship game win over Richmond. She said her favorite sport is always the one in season, but it will be volleyball fulltime at the next level. Wegener – who carries a 3.78 grade-point average – will continue in that sport and academically at Saginaw Valley State University, where she’d like to study nursing.

Coach Bree Russow said:Taylor brings so much joy and passion to the gym for all to see. That has really impacted how she has played over the past four years. Not only is she a fun player to coach, she is fun to watch. She loves the game and her teammates so much, she gives her all every time she steps on the court. Taylor is a great leader and has been team captain the last few years. Her teammates look up to her not only for her skill but as a teammate/friend/leader, which is so important – she wants everyone to have success, and her team comes first. I first started coaching Taylor in eighth grade during club season, and to see her growth has been truly amazing. She has worked so hard to get where she is today. She gets better every time she steps on that court, and she brings a little extra every day. Her teammates and younger athletes see that. No matter what she is playing – volleyball, basketball, and softball – she is there to battle. That says a lot, and others want to do the same.” 

Performance Point: “I’ve been on varsity since I was a freshman, and just realizing that this is my last year playing for the Ida community, (now that) it’s almost over it’s just eye-opening how grateful I’ve been to be a part of such an amazing community and have had so much support,” Wegener said. “I think that I’ve just been playing my heart out because I don’t want it to end yet. I know all good things come to an end, but hopefully our end isn’t coming that soon. We have a total of eight seniors, and I think just all of us realize that it’s our last time playing together and you’ve gotta make the most of it.”

2,000 and growing: “I can’t get a kill without a good pass and without a good set, so it’s really my teammates that do all the work to make me look good. … I’ve never been one to count. People will come up to me and ask how many kills, or (for basketball) how many points did you have? I just say I have no idea. Those sports are all team efforts. The competitor in me just wants to win. If it’s two kills versus 30 kills, and my teammates pick it up in those certain places, a win is a win at the end of the day for me. I think I’ve improved with confidence over the years, and that’s why I’ve gotten those kills and I’ve taken advantage of the times when I’ve needed to get a kill.”

Embracing the opportunity: “The last Regional was actually my cousin (playing), which is my assistant coach Ashley Begeman, so (to win this week) would be a huge thing for not only me personally, but my family. And looking at the banner, (for reaching) the final four, in the gym, it’s always been a goal of mine. As a little kid, when you go in there and you see those letters up on that banner, it’s like, I want to be up there someday.”

Power player: “I’ve always been stronger in my grade. In basketball, it’s ripping a ball from someone. With volleyball, it’s slamming the ball as hard as I can. It’s just the aggression in me that’s like, ‘I’m going to do what I have to do to win as strong and as hard as I can.’”

Bluestreak building: “As we’re more successful in the state run, you just see that people from our community have just come out and been so supportive. The gym was so loud (Tuesday) night, and it was just an emotional time because right after the game you could just feel the happiness in the gym. People I hadn’t seen in years had come to support Ida. It’s just really amazing; it’s going to hurt that I don’t have that next year. … I’ve had that experience in softball too. When we won the state softball championship, it was that same feeling that brings tears to my eyes because I’m so happy to not only be proud of my teammates, but proud of my community. That self-pride, they’re returning it right back to us. It’s just an amazing feeling you can’t describe.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Past honorees

Nov. 7: Carter Solomon, Plymouth cross country - Report
Oct. 31: 
Jameson Goorman, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Oct. 24:
Austin Plotkin, Brimley cross country
- Report
Oct. 17:
Jack Spamer, Brighton cross country - Report
Oct. 10:
Kaylee Maat, Hudsonville volleyball - Report
Oct. 3:
Emily Paupore, Negaunee cross country - Report
Sept. 26: 
Josh Mason, South Lyon soccer - Report
Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Ida's Taylor Wegener (6) rises for a kill attempt during a match at Carleton Airport. (Middle) Wegener also saves a ball from hitting the floor. (Photos courtesy of the Ida volleyball program.)

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.