Weber Coming Up Big Again as Madison Eyes League, District Opportunities

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

October 12, 2021

ADRIAN – Abby Weber doesn’t stand out on the volleyball court during warm-ups or lineup introductions. 

At about 5-foot-6, Weber doesn’t look like a dominating volleyball player – until the game starts, that is. After that, opponents better know where she’s at and how to stop her.

The Adrian Madison senior captain has been the key cog in a Trojans volleyball team that won its 33rd match of the season Monday. She’s on the varsity for the fourth straight season and, with her on the team, Madison hasn’t lost a Tri-County Conference game. The Trojans have won 49 straight TCC matches – and picked up five straight league titles along the way. They are in great shape to capture a sixth straight as they are 7-0 in the league with five matches left. 

In the win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford, Weber was more than dominating, standing out for her serving, hitting, and seemingly making every dig necessary. 

“It’s just her drive,” Madison coach Heather Lanning said. “She is one of those kids who has a heart of gold and the drive and the ambition. She will not let a ball drop.”

Weber started playing volleyball when she was 6, at the YMCA in Adrian. She attended volleyball camps at Madison while growing up, then joined a travel team out of Toledo, located about 35 minutes from Madison, which is in Lenawee County. She played two years on the middle school team, then was brought straight to the Trojans varsity as a freshman. 

She played her way into the lineup and has stayed there since. Last year she was the only underclassmen in an otherwise all-senior lineup. Despite not being a senior, she was a captain. It is a role she relishes.

“They all depend on me because I’m a captain,” she said. “I love to help them and give them energy. When someone gets a kill or something, I want to congratulate them because it’s a big deal. They love it.”

In the win over Whiteford, Weber recorded her 1,500th career kill. Earlier this year she went over 1,000 digs. It’s kind of like a basketball player having 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds during a career.

Adrian Madison volleyball“It just goes to show her drive and her ability on the court,” Lanning said. “That’s just Abby.”

Lanning is the second coach Weber has played for during her four-year varsity career. Lanning previously coached the Trojans JV team, so she was familiar with most of the Madison varsity when she got the head coaching job. She didn’t now Weber, but it didn’t take her long to notice what a gem she had inherited.

“She already knew everyone else,” Weber said. “I was into the mix with them.”

Lanning was looking over some statistics from the last couple of seasons when she realized the milestone her returning all-conference and all-county player was nearing.

“She told me I was coming up to 1,500 digs,” Weber said. “I know it was a pretty great accomplishment to get it. I’m happy about it.”

Weber said she couldn’t do it alone. Through Monday she has 1,508 career digs and 1,104 career kills. She had 19 kills and 17 digs in Monday’s match alone.

“My team helps me,” Weber said. “I wouldn’t be able to get a dig if it wasn’t for people helping me and telling me where everyone is, and I wouldn’t have as many kills as I do if it wasn’t for my setters and back row making the pass. It’s because of everyone.”

Driven by a high energy level on the court, Weber often serves, then makes a move to get closer to the net, and, finally, will get to the front row before the ball is back on her team’s side.

“I like to go with the faster-pace tempo,” she said. 

Lanning said wherever she puts Weber, she is impressed.

“She’s very effective on the attack from the back row,” Lanning said. “She can still kill it from the back row. It doesn’t matter where she is at.”

The moves Weber made impressed her opposing coach Monday. Whiteford’s Janie Bunge saw far too much of Weber.

“She was everywhere,” Bunge said. “As soon as her rotation came up, she’d serve six or seven points in a row. We couldn’t stop her.”

Weber is interested in playing college volleyball but isn’t sure where at the moment. She’s been looking at some schools at the NAIA level. 

“I love being part of a team,” Weber said. “I have made a lot of friends from volleyball and competing against other teams. It’s really fun.”

Madison keeps getting stronger as the season goes on. They are getting contributions from multiple players, including sophomores Tatum Wilson and Jillian Kendrick, four juniors and five of Weber’s fellow seniors, such as Mallory Palpant and Hannah Kendrick. All four of those players had their moments in Monday’s win. 

Madison has begun getting some votes in the weekly Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association rankings. The Trojans were among the honorable mention teams in the latest Division 3 poll. The top-ranked team – Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central – is in the District that Madison will host.

“We are thinking about Districts,” Weber said. “We’re just going to try and figure out where the other teams’ holes are and what we need to do.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Adrian Madison’s Abby Weber gets high over the net on a kill attempt this season against Sand Creek. (Middle) Webber sends a volley back toward the Aggies’ side of the net. (Photos by Mike Dickie.)

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.