#TBT: Before They Were Olympians
August 25, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Michigan athletes enjoyed another banner showing at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that wrapped up Sunday. We cheered for them all – but paid special attention to a handful who previously competed in MHSAA sports before achieving more at the international level.
Much of the following was taken from a recent series of MHSAA Instagram posts that highlighted our state’s Olympians with MHSAA ties. Athletes are listed with high school and graduation year.
Draymond Green, Saginaw, 2008 – Green got a taste for championships in leading Saginaw to back-to-back Class A titles in 2007 and 2008 before starring for Michigan State University and now for the Golden State Warriors. He averaged nearly 10 minutes per game off the bench for the U.S. team, playing in all eight games during the undefeated gold medal march.
Women’s Swimming & Diving
Allison Schmitt, Canton, 2008 – Schmitt won the 200 and 500-yard freestyle championships at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals in both 2006 and 2007 and continues to hold the all-Finals records in both events; she then went on to shine at University of Georgia. She helped the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay to gold and the 400 freestyle relay to silver, bringing her personal medal count to eight over the last three Olympics.
Grace Latz, Jackson Northwest, 2006 – Latz played volleyball during her high school career at Northwest. She took up rowing at University of Wisconsin and helped her quadruple sculls team to a fifth-place finish in Rio.
Grace Luczak, Ann Arbor Pioneer, 2007 – Luczak also was a high school volleyball player and rowed on Pioneer’s team (although crew is not an MHSAA-sponsored tournament sport, some schools have teams) before going on to University of Michigan and then Stanford University. She finished fourth in the pair at Rio.
Ellen Tomek, Flint Powers Catholic, 2002 – Tomek played basketball and softball for the Chargers and also made the Olympics in 2008 after taking up rowing at Michigan. She finished in sixth place this time in doubles sculls after finishing fifth in Beijing.
Men’s Track & Field - Discus
Andrew Evans, Portage Northern, 2009 – Evans played football, ice hockey and participated in track & field for the Huskies, winning discus at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals in 2008 and 2009. He finished 16th in qualifying at Rio, just missing the top 12 who advanced to the final competition.
Alisha Glass, Leland, 2007 – Glass remains arguably the top player in MHSAA volleyball history with records still for career kills, single-season aces and career aces (accomplished during the rally scoring era beginning in 2004). She led Leland to the Class D title in 2006 and then played at Penn State University – and this month set the U.S. team to a bronze medal in Rio.
Lauren Paolini, Saline, 2005 – Paolini was both a volleyball and basketball standout for Saline before moving on to the University of Texas. She served as an alternate for this Olympic team.
Additional Olympians with MHSAA ties
Cindy Ofili, Ann Arbor Huron, 2012, Great Britain – Ofili won three LP Division 1 championships and was on a winning relay in 2012 before going on to run at Michigan. She took fourth in the 100 hurdles in Rio.
Tiffany (Ofili) Porter, Ypsilanti, 2005, Great Britain – Porter still owns MHSAA LP Division 2 Finals records in the 100 and 300 hurdles and shares the record in long jump after winning six individual Finals championships over her four-year varsity career. Porter finished seventh in the 100 hurdles in Rio and also ran in the 2012 Olympics. She also attended Michigan.
Alex Rose, Ogemaw Heights, 2009, Samoa – Rose was the 2009 LP Division 2 champion in shot put before also competing at Central Michigan University. Like Evans, he also threw discus in Rio but did not qualify for the final with his top throw coming in 29th.
PHOTOS: (Clockwise from left): Allison Schmitt waves to the crowd during her last MHSAA Finals; Draymond Green is introduced before a Class A Final at the Breslin Center; Alisha Glass confers with a teammate during a Class D Volleyball Final; Portage Northern grad Andrew Evans.
2023 WISL Award Honoree Glass Continuing to Create Leaders On Court & Off
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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 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.