Valued Leaders Talk Sportsmanship

April 12, 2013

By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor

Anyone who has attended an MHSAA sporting event has undoubtedly heard the public address announcements touting sportsmanship.

Sportsmanship is one of many lessons taught through school sports. But are today’s student-athletes the willing pupils in the subject? Or are too many kids opting for elective courses in showmanship offered via YouTube and cable networks?

While many involved in high school athletics have noticed a decline in sportsmanship, it’s not too late to inject this valuable ingredient back into our games. But efforts need to begin at the local level, and the scholastic environment needs to supplant community venues where poor sportsmanship often flourishes.

Seventeen coaches from all over the state chipped in to a benchmarks town hall discussion on sportsmanship. 

East Kentwood’s Dave Emeott: “I think it is easy to see that sportsmanship is at least diminished. I think sportsmanship starts in the home, but we cannot always depend on the household to teach these lessons. As we sit in the stands, we realize that if this is where they learn it, then we need to get to work. I think we need to teach parents what a good sport looks like, as well as students. It is apparent that students will be the kind of sports they are permitted to be. Most coaches want good sportsmanship, but struggle with the balance of teaching character and winning or losing.”

Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg’s Tamara Benjamin: “Sportsmanship could be endangered. If a parent is allowed to sit in the stands and berate coaches, officials, and other athletes, it’s difficult for our students to see that this behavior is wrong because it is being tolerated. My expectations for our girls’ behavior are made clear the first day of practice. I hold them accountable for themselves, and we go forward each day.”

Holland’s Don Kimble: “I believe that it starts at home; always looking for a reason for failure opens the door to unsportsmanlike behavior. On our team, sportsmanship is stressed within the team first; if you cannot be a sportsman to your teammates, then you cannot be to others.”

Grand Haven’s Kimberly Vincent: “We’re all about sportsmanship and work with students and parents to set expectations. There are too many people pointing fingers at other people about this subject, and I think coaches have to set the example.”

Battle Creek Pennfield’s Mike Roach: “Youth sports programs need to concentrate on sportsmanship and the fact that there are winners and losers in sports. By not keeping score, the kids do not learn how to win, nor do they learn how to handle losing. Keep score. Teach kids that it is not the end of the world to lose, but be gracious in winning and losing.”


It could be true that much of the focus on poor sportsmanship is a result of just that: the spotlight on poor sportsmanship, rather than the good.

Thornapple-Kellogg’s Abby Kanitz: “I think that too much focus is put on the unsportsmanlike situations.  There is much more good out there than bad; it just doesn't make for great stories. It does not take much more than one bad situation to ruin a game, competition or meet. I think sportsmanship comes from the coach. If your athletes know you have high expectations in this area, then their parents will know, too.”

Allegan’s Gary Ellis: “Sportsmanship is alive and well, though it is under attack. Students are exposed to so many examples of poor to horrendous sportsmanship on TV, that it seems to be the norm.” 

Bloomfield Hills Andover’s David Zulkiewski: “I see positive sportsmanship every day with my athletes, and that’s because we focus on it and make it part of our daily practice and competition. Our team is much more than swimming or diving; it’s about excelling at life. So many of our kids will not compete in athletics after high school, so we try to give them skills they can use in the real world. Being a good sport is one of those skills.”

Grand Haven’s James Richardson: “Kids want and need structure, and will uphold the guidelines as long as they are clearly defined and enforced consistently. As coaches we need to build relationships with the kids and teach them proper behavior, and serve as models for them.”

Holt’s Mike Van Antwerp: “Sportsmanship is still around. If kids respect their opponents as individuals, they are good sports. Most of them would get along well if they were on the same team, so it’s important they realize that. The kids they play against are no different from them. If they respect the game, respecting their opponent follows.”


To be sure, no coach worth his or her clipboard sets out to allow poor sportsmanship. But emphasizing proper conduct early and often should be as essential as conducting tryouts.

Munising’s Cathy Mutter: “Sportsmanship is an important part of high school sports and life in general. I always tell my athletes, ‘You do not deserve; you earn. You have to work hard, be positive and be fair.’ I teach them to strive to be the best they can be on the team, in the classroom, at the jobs they have, and at home in their family life. Many programs struggle due to the fact they do not work together as a unit. You are only as strong as your weakest link.”

Rockford’s Ed Van Portfliet: “The O-K Conference and the member schools have done a great job of promoting sportsmanship, and I think it’s alive and well in our area. We teach our players it’s important to play hard, but they also have to respect their opponent and the game. We don’t tolerate actions or play from our players that would be considered disrespectful or detrimental to the game.”

Warren Regina’s Diane Laffey: “We always talk sportsmanship at our team meetings, our parent meetings and our coaches meetings. I guess it is an endangered species in some areas – but I do not feel it has gotten anywhere near that point at our school. I make every effort to make sure that our athletes, teams, coaches and parents keep sportsmanship at the top of our list.”

Allegan’s Ellis: “Leagues have a responsibility to educate their students about proper behavior at high school athletic events and how to treat their opponents. Schools need to develop leaders – on teams and in the stands – who set the tone at contests. The biggest trophy given out at our year-end awards night is the sportsmanship trophy.”

Marshall’s Sue Hutchings: “Sportsmanship starts with the coaching staff respecting the players and hammering the philosophy home. If one of our players exhibits bad sportsmanship, they are taken out of the competition and made to apologize. And trust me, it has happened. Our conference coaches are all pretty tight and have worked together for a number of years. We all share the same philosophy and have very, very little trouble with bad sportsmanship.”


Sometimes, proper sportsmanship is simply woven into the fabric of a given sport.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Forest Hills Eastern’s Brian Telzerow: “Sportsmanship in golf is the leader in integrity. There is no other sport that is as self-policing as is golf. The young men and women must play with honor and integrity, calling penalties on themselves with no referees present. There is no entitlement here. After we play, players shake hands with all other competitors in their groups. We also make it a practice to say thanks to the host team and to the host course personnel. This is intentional to instill gratitude for the privilege of playing this sport.”

Portland’s Jim Niebling: “Sportsmanship may very well be endangered, but not in high school tennis and certainly not on our teams in Portland. Just this season my No. 1 singles player was playing his arch rival in the league championship match. They had gone back and forth for years and both knew the implication of winning the match for the upcoming Regional and Final tournaments where they were surely going to have to play again. The loser would be seeded lower and would have decidedly more difficult draws. But when the other player, up a set, began to cramp in the second set, looking like he may not be able to finish the match, my player walked to his cooler, pulled out a Gatorade and handed it to his opponent.

“My player ended up losing that match, and he knew that was a possibility when he handed his opponent that Gatorade. If that’s not sportsmanship, I don’t know what is.”

Grand Haven’s Richardson: “Sportsmanship is promoted on our team because in wrestling we are only in charge of ourselves and our actions. It’s a sport that holds individuals accountable. It is difficult in our sport to place blame on others.”

Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills/Grandville’s Brenda McDonald: “I always have my girls practice good sportsmanship. They always thank the home team or say, ‘Good job,’ to the opposing team. Many of the girls know the girls on other teams from previous gymnastics classes, so they enjoy seeing them again.”

High School Coaches Survey Identifies Parental Concerns

More than 3,000 high school coaches and athletic directors responded to a nationwide survey conducted by Growing Great Relationships (GGR) in cooperation with the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA). The purpose of the survey was to understand what coaches and athletic directors see as their greatest needs concerning coach-parent and coach-athlete communication and relationships. GGR and NHSCA will use the results to design training and programs that address the identified needs.

The first section of the survey addressed issues surrounding parents of athletes. The first question asked coaches about their greatest concerns dealing with parents. More than 50 percent indicated over-involved parents as their No. 1 concern.

The second question asked coaches what they think parents are most concerned about. Overwhelmingly, nearly 80 percent reported the child’s amount of playing time as their perception of a parent’s biggest issue.

The next question asked coaches who are the most difficult parents. Athlete “wanna bes” were identified by 55 percent of the respondents.

Coaches then were asked what parents should do to support them. More than 70 percent indicated keeping them informed of personal difficulties their child was having at home. This was followed by 63 percent asking parents not to use social media regarding the team, or to gossip about the team or the coach’s expertise. Athletic directors’ responses were similar but with different percentages. Nearly 73 percent ranked not using social media or gossip about the team as the most important.

The second section of the survey asked coaches about their greatest concerns regarding relationships with their athletes. The first question asked coaches about the challenges they face communicating with student-athletes. Nearly 58 percent indicated an athlete receiving contradictory advice from parents and other coaches/advisers. This was followed closely with 55 percent stating an athlete’s inflated belief about his or her ability. Athletic director responses were similar but with somewhat different percentages. The greatest response, 70 percent, was the athlete receiving contradictory advice.

The second question asked the coaches for other factors interfering with their relationships with their student-athletes. The factor indicated by 58 percent of coaches was an athlete over-burdened with competing school demands (clubs, academics). For this particular question, the response from the athletic directors closely matched the coaches.

Athletic directors were asked that in their role what are their greatest concerns dealing with parents and athletes. The most frequent answer by 76 percent of athletic directors was parents bypassing coaches to complain directly to them.

In addition, nearly 500 coaches and athletic directors wrote in additional concerns that they have in their ability to communicate and work with athletes and their parents.

– Richard & Jane: Relationship Coaching

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.