Bronson volleyball coach Jean LaClair passed a coaching milestone last weekend.She picked up her 1,000th career win.
The win came at the Thornapple-Kellogg Tournament.
But, wins have never been important to her.
"A coach knows they are successful when their players leave their program but continue to come back, whether it is to coach or to support the team," LaClair said.
"I'd like to think my kids can leave the program and go out and coach themselves.
I have never thought wins were important, except at the end of the season.
"I always get asked what my record is, I have to look it up, I don't know," LaClair added.
"That's because I don't really care."
Several of her former players can be seen in the crowd or on the bench with her.
This season former player Brooke Pyles serves as her assistant and last season when LaClair was battling health issues, Jayna Gardner (2001-2004) coached Bronson.
"Since 2000, I've been calling Jean "'coach'" and continue to do so today," Gardner said.
"Coach LaClair was the best coach I ever played for, she coached our team to a state title, that is something I will cherish for the rest of my life," Bell said.
LaClair began her coaching career as junior varsity coach at Bay City Western, while attending college.She soon jumped to the ranks of head coaching with a three year stint at Midland Dow beginning in 1987.
From 1996 to 1999 she led Pinconning to three district titles, two regional titles, three conference crowns and state runnerup in 1997/98.
Page 2 of 3 - LaClair began her career at Bronson in 2000 as part time athletic Director/part time teacher.
This is really sad," LaClair said.
"Kids should be able to play all sports in high school, but are often told by club coaches that the only way to make it to college is to play in a big club.
I have always said your favorite sport should be the sport in season.
Have fun playing them all."
Coaching for 25-plus years.
LaClair has many fond memories.
"Obviously the state runner- up and state title teams were special.
Those were great kids, we had great support from the community and student body," LaClair said.
"Our student body in 2009 (led by Luke Frohreip) at the state championship game doing the roller coaster.
Truly the first time that most had seen it and now everybody does it.
"Last year, when I was dealing with health issues, seeing my team, their parents and the community come out to support me (and the team).
When the kids put the shirts on for the first time, I started to cry, we are truly family," LaClair said.
LaClair teams are also known for their team building and non volleyball activities.
Nearly every year they attend Monowe', team camping trips, go through haunted houses and hay rides.
All of which LaClair sees as important to the team.
"Seeing the kids enjoying their time in the volleyball program and the camaraderie that the volleyball program has.
The way they are always supportive of their teammates and will back one another," LaClair said.
"Jean expects Bronson volleyball players of all levels to achieve in the classroom, to make sound and safe choices and to be a positive influence on our entire school.
Jean commits wholeheartedly to this program, and its families respond likewise."
Page 3 of 3 - LaClair's peers, like her former players, have a tremendous amount of respect for her.
"Jean is a great fundamental coach, her teams are always well prepared for each and every match.
"I enjoy coaching against Jean because I know it's going to be a great match.
I have a lot of respect for Jean as a coach, I know I can learn from her and her teams and that will make me a better coach myself.She is one of the top coaches in any class," Groat added.
"Jean is the best around and a coach that would do anything for her players, she cares very much for her kids.
It's not just about the game of volleyball, Jean teaches them life lessons."
LaClair has received many honors at the state and local level.
The one award she is the most proud of is in 2015 MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Award.
The Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA) inducted her into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
"I have known Jean for many years now.
Jean is a valued member and excellent role model and mentor for our membership," DelMorone said.
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