St. Philip Adds to 'Tradition'

November 17, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – The Battle Creek St. Philip volleyball team rushed the Kellogg Arena floor Saturday just as it has many of the other 17 times the Tigers have won the MHSAA Class D championship.

There’s no reason to do differently. As the saying goes, winning doesn't graduate. And it surely doesn't get old. 

Beal City made it a little tougher than some others over the years. But like in all 72 of its wins this fall, St. Philip swept the Aggies to launch the latest celebration.

The Tigers finished this season with a 25-21, 25-15, and 25-18 victory to add another to their record championship total and pull it within one more of tying the longest volleyball title winning streak in MHSAA history.

“It’s seriously the same every time. We have the same excitement every time. It’s always special. We never get tired of it,” Tigers senior setter Lenae Lesiow said. “It’s obviously the best feeling in the world.

“It’s just tradition. We really know we have so many people supporting us. And we just want to make people proud, make ourselves proud, make our coach proud.”

Every team is different, and every coach is hesitant to compare them. But this Tigers team finished 73-2-1, setting a school record for wins and ranking as the 10th-most successful volleyball team in MHSAA history.

Beal City coach Kelly David, who has been immersed in Class D volleyball as both a player and now in her first season running the program, said this was, in her opinion, the best St. Philip team to come through.

And that made how her Aggies (45-11-1) hung close even more impressive.

Beal City was playing in its first MHSAA Final in any girls sport. Only three years ago, David was the setter as the Aggies made the Semifinals but lost to the Tigers in four games.

This time, Beal City played nearly point for point through the first and halfway into the second.

But eventually, St. Philip’s all-state hitting duo of senior Amanda McKinzie and junior Sierra Hubbard-Neil became the Aggies’ undoing.

McKinzie, named Miss Volleyball on Monday, finished with 19 kills, one short of making the MHSAA Finals record book. Hubbard-Neil, a sure contender for the statewide award next season, had 18 kills

She caught fire in the second game, while McKinzie unloaded powerful finishing shots in the third.

“They were close that whole first game, and I think we were a little bit nervous knowing, ‘Wow, they are so close,’” McKinzie said.

“We just had to relax and play our game,” Hubbard-Neil added. “When either of us as a hitter starts getting going, our setter will nail us. She just starts feeding us when we’re hot.”

Lesiow totaled 32 assists. McKinzie and senior Natalie Gallagher both had nine digs.

Beal City was led by junior middle Addie Schumacher, who had seven kills and five digs. Junior Melanie Schafer had six kills and nine digs, and senior Jade Kennedy had eight digs and 23 assists.

Kennedy and senior Monica David – the coach’s sister – were freshman call-ups for the 2009 Semifinal.

“Being freshmen, we were just part of the team and we got to cheer on our teammates,” Monica David said. “It was awesome coming back as a senior and being one of the leaders out there and being a big part of the team.”

And it couldn’t have hurt to be part of her sister’s first team as a coach.

 “I lucked out having a good group of girls to start with," Kelly David said. “It’s hard to believe we’re in the Finals my first year, and it’s a lot of fun. But it’s the girls, not me. It’s the girls that got here, and I’m just excited for them.”

Groat’s program has plenty of family ties as well. With eight MHSAA championships, she’s now just one short of tying the total of her mother Sheila Guerra, her predecessor who died in 2006.

Groat found a card earlier this week that she’d gotten from her mom the year before her death. On the back was written the number “8,” and she had no idea why but thought about that over the last few days. “Maybe she knew something back then that she’s trying to tell me,” Groat said.

Another title win next season would tie Marysville’s record streak from 1997-2004. But the Tigers will have to do it with a number of new contributors.

They’ll graduate seven from this team, including four-year players McKinzie and middle Casey Gallagher and three-year players Sam Ellis and Natalie Gallagher.

“They’re like family to me. I watched them grow from little awkward freshmen to fine young ladies as seniors, and in June when they graduate it’s going to be a sad day because we’ve spent a lot of time together,” Groat said. “They’re part of my life forever.” 

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Battle Creek St. Philip celebrates briefly after a point on the way to celebrating another Class D championship. (Middle) Jaclyn Behnke (11) and Amanda McKinzie block a kill attempt by Beal City's Addie Schumacher.

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.