Performance: Buchanan's Franki Strefling

September 16, 2016

Franki Strefling
Buchanan senior – Volleyball

Strefling has served as a captain of Buchanan’s volleyball team all four years of high school as the Bucks have risen to join the state’s elite. Buchanan is ranked No. 3 in Class B this week coming off a championship at the Battle Creek Lakeview Invitational, where the Bucks downed among others reigning Class C champion Bronson, annual Class A power Temperance Bedford and Class B No. 9 Harper Creek – the team that ended Buchanan’s last two seasons at MHSAA Regionals. Strefling earned the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week” after totaling 89 kills, eight blocks, 16 aces and 63 digs during Saturday's tournament, the second this season where she was named Most Valuable Player of the event.

The 5-foot-10 outside hitter has 350 kills, 220 digs, 30 blocks and a .520 hitting percentage this season after setting a school single-season kill record with more than 800 a year ago in making the Class B all-state third team. Buchanan is 21-1 after Wednesday’s win over Comstock, and Strefling helped the Bucks break their program record for wins during both the 2014 and then 2015 seasons. The Bucks have lost only 23 matches total during her four years.

Strefling grew up in the gym, thanks in large part to her father Vince Strefling, currently the volleyball coach at Glen Oaks Community College and previously the coach at five high schools including Niles Brandywine, Dowagiac and Coloma. Franki has committed to sign with Eastern Michigan University, where she’ll study to become a nurse practitioner – she carries a 3.57 grade-point average. Strefling also participated in track & field for a season, as a sophomore, competing in the 800, 1,600, pole vault and long jump.

Coach Lisa Holok said: “Since Franki walked into the gym freshman year, I knew she was going to be a special athlete. She has been a dominant leading force for this program for four years and is having a fantastic senior season. Without a doubt, she is one of the best players in the state and she has proved that time and time again. Franki's high level of play dominates opponents with her powerful arm swing and jumping ability; she also has the ability to pick apart a team’s defense with her court awareness. Franki is a really aggressive server and through the years has also brought her defense up to another level. Her overall ball control and knowledge on the court is bar none. Franki makes everyone around her better and raises their games by her intense play and passion for the game. She is a work horse and has spent countless hours in the gym training her whole life for a sport which she loves. We are so proud of the leader that she is on and off the court and the joy of the game and intensity she brings to our practices, our games, to this team and program. She is so deserving of all her success.”

Performance Point: “Saturday was a very long, exhausting day,” Strefling said. “Honestly, with the training we do during practice, I think we’ve gotten a lot more intense during practice. We’re doing more mental strengthening. We’re doing a lot more conditioning. That’s what helped us more. After 12 hours, teams were exhausted, but I think we were more in shape. ... Throughout the whole day, I think I played pretty consistently, and I’m proud of that being it was such a long day.”

Seasoned veteran: “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to be a better leader, connect with my team. How to be more than just teammates; how to become a family. I’ve learned their strengths and weaknesses, how they like to be told what they’re doing wrong. I’ve just learned about them individually, just learned with them. We have seven seniors who have been up (on varsity) for four years now, and that helps a lot.”

Serving notice: "Our community has started to appreciate (our success) more. We’re getting more people at games, and it means more personally that the work we’re putting in is finally getting recognized. On social media, lots of people have started sharing everything. It kinda started last year … usually we’re the small school; nobody pays attention to us. But we’re making a name for ourselves and people are recognizing us. It’s awesome."

Following Dad: "My dad is really everything I’ve become. Ever since I could walk, I’ve been in the gym with his teams. Sometimes I’ll look up in the stands and he’ll be telling me what I’m doing wrong, what I need to fix. It’s a reminder constantly of what I need to be doing – (and) I always love it. When I’m struggling especially, when he’s there cheering it’s such a great feeling, that I’m making him proud."

Strefling sharp: “I think the best part of my game would be my mental stability. We can get down in games, like this weekend we were down 15-2 and came all the way back. Just being mentally strong, against a team that took from us three years now, I told (my teammates) we need to stop. We need to get back in the groove, and don’t worry about the score. Do the basics. Do what we train for.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Franki Strefling and her Buchanan teammates are ranked No. 3 in Class B this week. (Middle) Strefling watches as a spike falls for a point during a recent match. (Photos courtesy of the South Bend Tribune/Michael Caterina.)

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.