Performance: Novi's Ally Cummings

November 23, 2016

Ally Cummings
Novi senior - Volleyball

As the lone four-year varsity player on Class A champion Novi's roster, the 5-foot-11 Cummings has played a special role in helping the program rise to elite. Cummings – the Wildcats' right-side hitter and the state's Miss Volleyball Award runner-up this fall – finished a memorable high school career by leading Novi to a second straight Class A title last week to earn the Michigan National Guard's "Performance of the Week." 

Cummings chipped in eight kills and nine digs in Tuesday's Quarterfinal win over Bloomfield Hills Marian, then led the team with 13 digs (to go with 15 kills) in the Semifinal sweep of Fenton. She finished with 10 kills, 14 digs and four blocks in a 3-1 win over Rockford in Saturday's Final; the Rams took only one of seven sets given up by Novi this season, and Cummings had four kills and all four of her blocks over the final two sets as the Wildcats pulled away. All three matches exemplified how Cummings has worked to become an all-around player, while remaining the threat who, as coach Jennifer Cottrill explained, doesn't allow teams to defend only one side of the court because if they do, "she will terminate" from the right. 

In addition to the two Class A titles and 54-1 record this fall, Novi also finished Finals runner-up in 2014 and finished a combined 198-20 during Cummings' four years on varsity. She had 510 kills on a .346 attack percentage, plus 317 digs and 59 blocks this season, and finished with 1,042 kills, 183 blocks and 628 digs over her career. Cummings played club with five of this year's other Miss Volleyball finalists and finished runner-up for the award to Corunna's Meredith Norris, coming in second by only one vote. Also an academic all-state selection with a 3.8 grade-point average, Cummings will study psychology and continue her volleyball career next season at Valparaiso University. 

Coach Jennifer Cottrill said: “The first couple of years I was here (2012 and 2013), we lost to Northville in the District Finals and never advanced past that in the postseason, and Ally was around for that – she’s the only one that was, and as we wanted to change that, she was the voice of change for us. … She’s always played so well in Battle Creek, all three of her years that we were there. Last night at our banquet, (I said) that’s where she eats pressure for breakfast. It doesn’t faze her. Other players, you see them run around the court, they’re nervous and do things that are uncharacteristic to the norm. But not Ally. She’s so solid in pressure situations.”

Performance Point: “My role was just to play consistently and help everyone to stay calm during stressful moments – be someone in pressure situations who could put the kill down, but mostly just to stay consistent the whole game. We have to make sure we stay in the game, don’t think too far ahead, and if we’re down, work point by point and get down the deficit. I think the whole time, for the most part, we were pretty calm during the games. They were all super-duper tight games, and we hadn’t had anything like that during the season.”

Lasting legacy: “I just hope they can think of me as a really good friend on the team. Not so much how I played during these years, just think ‘she’s such a good captain,’ that I had a good positive attitude and that I was able to be someone they can talk to. When we started this season, we all had roles as captains, and mine was to stay consistent and lead by example. Throughout the year, I think all of our captains accomplished what we set out to do.”

Quite a ride: “Playing on the team the last four years, I think I’ve really gotten better staying mentally strong during the game. There definitely were games I just played awful, but you’ve got to get back up, go to practice and get ready to get better again so the next game you can play better. … It feels so long ago; freshman year was the last year we lost in the first round, in Districts, and every year since we went to Battle Creek. We did a lot of team-building activities, working on our chemistry (after freshman year), and when we came in sophomore year, we were all already family on that team. … My senior year, I can definitely look back and think it was a successful one. It’s not really about me individually, but our team played so well together. For my senior year, to know the team played as well as possible, it’s an amazing feeling.”

It’s an honor: “I’m just so proud that I was able to come so close to winning (Miss Volleyball) against such amazing athletes in that kind of race. Being able to play with five of the other candidates, that makes the perspective bigger. They’re just great people and athletes, and to be able to come in second in that, it’s insane to me.”

Ready to help: “I’ve just always wanted to help people, and I know psychology, and working with kids, is something I wanted to do as well. I wanted to have a profession where I could help people out, and maybe with sports psychology so I can continue in the athletic area working with kids and athletic people. Growing up, you should always have a good support system, because that’s how you’ll act the rest of your life – how you’re taught as a kid. I want to have that positive influence.” 

- 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:
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Novi's Ally Cummings follows through on a kill attempt during Saturday's Class A Final win against Rockford. (Middle) Cummings takes her turn serving against the Rams. 

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.