USA Standout Skilled for Every Season
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
December 28, 2018
Rylee Zimmer lightened her winter workload during her sophomore year, taking the basketball season off to focus more on volleyball.
It turned out to be a short-term move.
“I could make it to some of the games still, because I wasn’t quite as busy,” the Unionville-Sebewaing senior said. “But when I watched them play, I missed it, so I came back to play.”
Zimmer has finished her high school volleyball career and signed to continue playing the sport at Saginaw Valley State University. But her days as a Patriot are not over, as she is currently playing basketball, and in the spring will come back to her familiar spot on the softball diamond, where she is a returning all-state selection as a shortstop.
“I actually think (playing three sports) does help me,” Zimmer said. “Like in basketball, we’re working on jumping and we run a lot. It keeps me more in shape.”
It’s no secret, however, that volleyball is No. 1 for Zimmer. She plays for the Five:1 club during the winter and spring, and is currently balancing school, the club and basketball season. Sub out softball for basketball, and you have her spring schedule.
“Actually, it works out pretty good, because for girls basketball, we play on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I have practice on Monday and Wednesday,” she said. “After basketball and softball practices, I drive to Clio and practice until 9 at night. I don’t have much downtime.”
Zimmer was a four-year starter for the Patriots volleyball team, and this fall she led the team to its first MHSAA Finals appearance – where it fell to four-time reigning champion Bronson in the Division 3 title match.
“When we were in eighth grade, when Erica Treiber (a volleyball All-American at Tennessee) was on the team, we went to Battle Creek with my family (for the Semifinals), and I never thought I’d be able to make it there,” Zimmer said. “This year, my senior year, when we started playing I thought, ‘This team is pretty good and can make it pretty far.’ It was so exciting to be able to make it to the last game of the season.”
On the season, Zimmer finished with 828 kills, 630 service receptions, 537 digs, 132 total blocks and 41 aces. It was her second straight season with more than 800 kills, and she finished her career with 2,332. Her career kill percentage was .374.
“Rylee is just an athletic player,” USA coach Teresa Rose said. “Last year, she was a captain, but this year she was a little more of a vocal captain. She never wanted to step on the seniors’ toes when she was only a junior. She’s very knowledgeable. She plays club at Five:1, she plays basketball, she plays softball – she's constantly doing something. Girls that only play one sport, they’re playing club, too, but they’re not using those other muscles you do while doing those other things. I think that really helps her be strong.”
Zimmer committed to Saginaw Valley late in her junior year, and signed during the early signing period in November. She said that playing at the next level was something she had dreamed of and thought could be a reality since she was moved up to varsity for volleyball as a freshman.
While playing three sports through high school has helped make her a better all-around athlete, she is looking forward to focusing on a single sport in college.
Rose also is excited to see what Zimmer can do at the next level.
“I’ve seen her play at this level, and she’s a standout,” Rose said. “To see her at the next level when she’s playing with everybody that’s that good, I can’t wait to watch her. Seeing her play with girls at the college level that are all volleyball players – that's all they’re doing – I think you’re going to see her be even more explosive than what she was this year.”
Before she moves on, however, Zimmer has more to do at USA. While the Patriots are 2-3 to start this season on the court, last winter Zimmer averaged 13.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game to lead the team to the Class C Regional Final.
The USA softball team was a Division 4 semifinalist a year ago, with Zimmer playing a big part. She hit .445 in 38 games, with 27 extra-base hits (14 doubles, 11 triples, two home runs), 41 RBI and 53 runs scored. She has a career batting average of .429.
“I’m just excited to have fun and have one last year with the people I’ve always played with,” she said. “I’m excited to have one last season with them.”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Clockwise from left, USA’s Rylee Zimmer spikes during this fall’s Division 3 Volleyball Final, Zimmer throws to first during last spring’s Division 4 Softball Semifinals and works for position in the post during a Class C Basketball District game. (Middle) Zimmer (4) celebrates her team’s Volleyball Semifinal win with her teammates. (Volleyball and softball photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; basketball photo by Varsity Monthly.)
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.