Tabit Twins Drive Top-ranked Team in B

September 1, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

MOUNT MORRIS – In the heat of an intense volleyball match, it could be easy to get the wrong impression about Hannah and Sarah Tabit of Mount Morris.

A raised voice or a stern stare isn't an alarming indication of discord between the two. They're not mad at each other. They're not being mean. It's just two highly driven twins who have learned over the course of 17 years together which buttons to push without hurting each other's feelings.

"Their chemistry is great," Mount Morris coach Jim Pender said. "I sympathize with them sometimes, because I'm an identical twin, too. Joe and I, when we competed, we got on each other. It wasn't anything we can't handle.

"Sometimes it seems like they're yelling at each other. It's just a different thing with identical twins. The kids now understand they're not yelling at each other. They're so competitive. They want the best out of each other. That's how they get it out of each other."

The tough-love approach seems to work.

The Tabits have been an integral part of Mount Morris' success over the past three seasons and to their fast start and No. 1 ranking in Class B as seniors this year. Sarah is an outside hitter who was second-team all-state after registering a school-record 867 kills last season. Hannah, an outside hitter and setter, made third-team all-state despite being limited by an injury.

Both are committed to play next season at Saginaw Valley State University, a short trip up I-75 from their hometown. Starting next fall, a new set of teammates will have to get accustomed to the in-your-face manner in which the Tabit twins motivate each other on the court.

Between twins, nothing that happens in the midst of competition is taken personally when they head home.

"I feel like I can be a little more firm with her and it's not like she'll cry or something," Sarah said.

"It's just because we've been playing together for so long," Hannah added. "We have a lot of chemistry together. If we mess up, we've got to figure out what's wrong. We have to fix it."

The Tabits have played volleyball together for quite a while, but not for as long as some high school teammates.

They became enthralled with the sport in elementary school when they went to Mount Morris matches to watch their brother's girlfriend play for the Panthers.

They couldn't wait to play volleyball themselves – but they had to.

Their father, Mount Morris assistant coach Pat Tabit, has witnessed many cases of burnout among athletes who have been playing the same sport from a young age. He didn't want that to happen to his daughters.

"Our parents actually wouldn't let us play until we were in sixth grade," Hannah said. "We kept trying to ask if we could. They'd say, 'Not yet, just wait it out.' They finally let us play. My dad didn't want us to get tired of it too quick, because it happens to a lot of girls who play now and start in third or fourth grade. He didn't want us to die out of it."

The Tabits enter their senior season very much energized about volleyball. It helps that they are on a team that could deliver only the second MHSAA championship in school history in any sport. The 1984 softball team won the Class B title, one year after Pender graduated from the school.

Mount Morris has won five district titles over the last seven years and nine overall, but has never advanced beyond regionals. The Panthers were strong before the Tabits arrived, but the program is at a different level with the twins leading the way.

"People come into the gym now and ask, 'When are those two going to be seniors?'" Pender said. "It seems like they've been on the team forever. They're noticed in the gym. Sarah got MVP of the first tournament and Hannah was on the all-tournament team. I haven't had too many players who could be a dynamic player for anybody in the state of Michigan. They know what's at stake and bring their game every time."

The Panthers didn't even make it out of their district last year, but it was understandable -- they lost to eventual Class B champion North Branch in the District Final. The teams have typically met in the regionals, with North Branch eliminating Mount Morris in that round in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

The teams are again in the same district this season. It will be played Nov. 2-7 at North Branch, the seventh-ranked team in Class B.

It's a testament to Mount Morris' returning talent that it earned the No. 1 ranking, despite its early exit last season and its history of never making it out of regionals.

"We're very happy about it, but we've still got to work hard every day," Sarah Tabit said. "That way we can maintain that No. 1 spot the whole season."

Mount Morris is off to a 16-1 start after three tournaments that have featured some of the best teams in the state. The Panthers beat Chelsea (No. 8 in Class B) and Birmingham Marian (preseason No. 9 in Class A) to win the first of two tournaments in Brownstown. They lost to Lake Orion (No. 2 in Class A) in the semifinals of the second tournament in Brownstown.

In their own tournament last Saturday, the Panthers beat long-time nemesis North Branch 25-13, 25-19 in the championship match.

In addition to the Tabits, libero Lauren Gibbs received postseason honors last year by making the all-region team as a freshman. Gibbs was injured and unable to play in the district, leaving the Panthers shorthanded against a powerful North Branch team it beat during the regular season.

Junior Summer Bruce, junior Mahogany Malone, sophomore Linda Allen, senior Kayla Sorensen and senior Madeline Clarke are other key contributors from last year's team.

"In the last six years, we've been ranked in the top 10 because of the tournaments we've been playing in," Pender said. "We've been playing some strong competition and competing with them. We graduated only two seniors, and they were basically in the same spot. We beat some really good teams last year. It puts a little more pressure on me, though, when they say you're that good. You have to have the kids to do what you need to get ranked. Now we have to put everything together. It puts a little added pressure."

Bill Khan served as a sportswriter at The Flint Journal from 1981-2011 and currently contributes to the State Champs! Sports Network. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Hannah Tabit works to get a ball past two opponents at the net during a match last season. (Middle) Sarah Tabit connects earlier this fall. (Below) The Tabit twins, numbers 12 and 16, lead the top-ranked team in Class B. (Top and middle photos by Greg Tunnicliff/Genesee County Herald; bottom photo courtesy of Mount Morris athletic department.)

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.