Ed Burrows
East Jordan
Helen Ferle
Lee O'Bryan
Gus Theodore
Imlay City
Art Vince

(click on Inductee's name to read 'description')

Ed Burrows, East Jordan

Ed Burrows, East Jordan High School Upon hearing that his coach was being inducted into the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, Brian Sturgell, one of Ed Burrows former players, wrote a note of congratulations to him saying: "If the award is intended to honor the impact of an individual coach on the kids he coaches, then you are clearly the right individual to be honored. I can't think of a single person who contributed a stronger set of values through sports than you did. I can honestly say that I learned very important lessons for life on your tennis courts. Your dedication to achievement through sportsmanlike, intense competition will always stay with me. Very few things actually impact a persons long term future-your program was a wonderful example of one area which did impact me."

Consider the overall impact. There was no tennis team in East Jordan before Ed arrived from Clay City, Florida via Florence, Alabama in 1956 to start the schools physical education program. There is no tennis team currently in place at East Jordan now that Ed has retired. During his 17 years as head coach, Ed's teams won 12 regional championships (10 of them in a row), enjoyed a three year undefeated streak, and never had a losing season. His teams beat then-perennial Class B power Petoskey 10 years consecutive. Although his teams never won a state championship, they never finished lower than fifth place and were runners-up twice.

Ed's impact doesn't stop there. He takes considerable pride in the accomplishments of his former players, especially the nine who went into tennis coaching themselves, including this years MHSTeA Class C-D Coach of the Year, Chuck Reed of WhittemorePrescott. In addition, 22 of his players got part or all of their higher educations paid for through scholarships. Dave Reed, Chuck's brother, was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" section for winning every dual meet match he played during his four year high school tennis career.

Conditioning practices that he carried over from training football players were one of Ed's secrets to tennis coaching success. Coaching "a white collar sport in a blue collar town," he approached his team at the beginning of each year with the challenge: Do you want to play country club tennis, or do you want to win? One has only to count the number of trophies at the school to furnish the answer.

As a coach, Ed was a "Southern gentleman" who emphasized that tennis is a gentleman's game, a concept that has been all but forgotten lately. He had a powerful persuasive way of motivating his players. As Chuck Reed notes, if you had split sets, by the time Coach Burrows had finished talking, you absolutely knew that you were going to win the third set. And then, of course, you went out and won that third set. In addition, at the beginning of each season, Ed convinced his players that it was a privilege to play for East Jordan and to carry on its tennis traditions. In turn, it is our privilege to induct this transplanted Southern gentleman into the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame.

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Helen Ferle, Mason

Long before the practice became fashionable (and in some extreme cases, infamous), Helen Ferle (at that time, Helen Strait) directed, coached, and chauffeured boys and girls of all age groups, known collectively as the Greater Lansing Tennis Club. During the 50s, these kids played home and home contests in the summers against teams from Flint, Holland, Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Ludington, and Midland. In doing so, she transferred her enthusiasm for tennis to hundreds of Mason youngsters who spent their summers on the tennis courts. The teen social scene each and every day for scores of kids was Helen's program and as a result, she began a movement that has made this community a hotbed of Michigan high school tennis, a distinction it enjoys even to the present day.

Helen learned to play the game on the courts of the old Lansing Central High School. She went on to become woman's champion for three straight years at Michigan State University and was runnerup in the state intercollegiate tournament, also for three years. When she settled in Mason, there was no tennis program. Committed to the game, she organized and directed a recreation program for several years, served on the Mason Recreation Council, ran several Greater Lansing tournaments, and worked with the Lansing area Jaycees on their district tournaments. She served as girls division chairman for the national tournament that the Mason Jaycees sponsored in 1961.

Given her background and a wealth of expertise and experience, it was only natural that Helen accept the job of boys tennis coach when it was offered. However, before her tenure, there were only two courts in the town. She and her husband built a court at their home and used it along with the other two courts for matches, tournaments, and practice. Later, she used her energy and influence to help obtain six new courts.

When she began coaching high school tennis in 1957, there were few Class B schools that had tennis teams; therefore, the schedule included the Class A schools in the Lansing area. However; Helen's teams became so strong that they dominated all of the area competition to the point where at least one of the large schools ultimately refused to play Mason. The team also did well in outstate competition. From 1957 to 1967, Mason High School captured 7 regional crowns and finished as state runner-up in 1964 on its way to gaining 86 dual meet wins against 23 losses for its enthusiastic and supportive coach.

Helen had the capacity to get the good athletes to come out for tennis. One of the most fortuitous things that she did was to talk a young badminton player by the name of Doug Dancer into coming out for the team, a move which has provided bonuses for Mason tennis to this day. The Dancer family is synonymous with Mason tennis; subsequent coaches, including this years Class B Coach of the Year; Dee McCaffrey are the beneficiaries of what Helen started. She also coached Jim Phillips who went on to play for MSU, Pat Birney who played for WMU, her son Bill who has taught at and managed several clubs in the Detroit and Toledo areas, and Jim Powers, whose very successful tenure at Okemos High School is well known to all who coach tennis in Michigan.

What Helen started in the 5O's has blossomed. Her team finished in 2nd place in state competition in 1965 and in a very real sense the offspring of her team won the state title last year. She was ahead of her time in that she presented an inspiring image of the elegant lady who could also sweat, a female who could hold her own with, if not triumph over, the boys. These kids, who learned both tennis and social skills from this most graceful of ladies, are now the adults who stayed in the Lansing area and are still enjoying the game through their own play and that of their children. Helen, in truth, was a pioneer who has earned a well-deserved place in the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame.

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Lee O'Bryan, Fraser

It has been said that "You can't go home again". It also has been said that "A man is without honor in his own country". However; Lee O'Bryan is an exception to these maxims. When he first began his distinguished career as a talented and successful high school tennis player at Fraser High School, he envisioned the prospect of returning to his alma mater as a coach. However; he could not have foreseen the possibility that his career as a coach at his home school would earn him a berth to the hall of fame. Indeed, in the most positive sense, he embodies the wisdom of the proverb, "What goes around, comes around".

Lee grew up on the neighborhood courts in Fraser where he took up the game in 6th grade. By the time he reached high school, he was an accomplished player on a strong team, playing 3S as a 9th grader; 2S in his sophomore and junior years, and the top spot as a senior. He qualified for state competition in his senior year and incidentally, played against Grosse Ile Hall of Famer John Shade's high school team (the two never met head to head) and with him and Class C-D Coach of the Year Chuck Reed on Central Michigan's varsity tennis team. Lee played 1S on CMU's freshman team and 5S and 6S on its varsity, all in the late 60's. By the time he returned to his alma mater in 1970, he had amassed a wealth of training, knowledge, and experience.

Taking over the girls program in 1974, Lee put together a career of formidable accomplishments. Over 20 years, his teams won 76% of their matches (200-64), and 8 league titles, captured 2 regional trophies, finished 2nd in the regional 3 times, and guided two singles qualifiers and two all-state players. His teams were named Macomb County Team of the Year in 1990 and 1994, the same years he was declared Macomb County Coach of the Year.

A major reason for Lee's success is a very impressive summer program that he started 11 years ago for players in Macomb County. As athletic director; Rick Repicky, puts it, "Fraser features no youth tennis program outside of the one Lee OBryan directs". In other words, Lee doesn't inherit talented kids; he coaches kids that he himself has trained. Five days a week in the summers, he is on the courts from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; then he hosts a county-wide tournament during the sixth week. Over 90% of his players come out of this summer program. His average varsity camp has 60 players and, amazingly, they show up at the crack of dawn. This is a testament to the very healthy respect and love that these kids have for their coach.

In addition, Lee serves on the MHSTeCA Board of Directors, has been on the MHSAA Tennis Rules Committee, has managed five regional tournaments, and even directed an additional one in 1993 when called upon to help out on an emergency basis. He is, in the words of one rival coach, "one tremendous human being". Quiet and unpretentious, he is a throwback to an era when image wasn't everything. His teams are models of sportsmanship, good etiquette, and discipline, qualifies which are accurate reflections of their coach. Lee reminds us of our better side while staying true to his. We honor him as much for his example as we do for his accomplishments or those of his teams. He is not only a "down to earth", positive role model for his kids and fellow coaches but a genuinely good person who is loath to "blow his own horn". At present, he doesn't need to because it is time that we in the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association sounded the trumpet for a much-deserved call to the Hall of Fame.

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Gus Theodore, Imlay City

As he was journeying north into the thumb area of Michigan during the end of August some years ago, MHSTeCA founder Bob Wood noticed a girls tennis practice proceeding behind Imlay City High School and, on an impulse, pulled in. What he observed should warm the hearts of all coaches who "labor in the vineyards" of high school coaching. Bob watched Gus Theodore directing 20 young ladies on six well-worn tennis courts located behind the school and directly across the railroad tracks from a Viasic pickle factory. After drills, Gus organized challenge matches and then took the remainder of girls into the parking lot, where he proceeded to toss them balls so that they could practice volleys. Of course, some of the girls had to stand behind both tosser and hitter to serve as backstops. Bob shook his head in amazement as he witnessed grassroots coaching at perhaps its most fundamental, impressive level.

Gus labored in this fashion for 20 years in Imlay City. In this span of time, he didn't capture too many league titles (one), regional titles (none), or state championships (you guessed it). However, he provided support for hundreds of kids in a community that is not exactly a household word in Michigan high school tennis. A football coach and history teacher who was raised in Ohio, he moved to Imlay City in the 60's and only took the tennis job upon a request of his superintendent. Knowing little about the game, he took classes (at one point, from Hall of Famer John Shade), attended the MHSTeCA clinics, talked extensively to area experts (Hall of Famer Dave Fredette of Armada and Dean Sousanis of Almont, in particular), and read lots of books.

His hard work brought good results. In a typical year, approximately 18 kids, none of whom with any tennis experience, would come out for this Class B team and every year Gus would exhort them to be "the best team which plays on the worst courts". Playing in a league that included Armada, Almont, Elkton-Pigeon-Bayport, and Goodrich, all of whom have fine programs and coaches, didn't make his job very easy. However, over the years, his team won more matches than they lost, specifically 155 wins against 140 losses. Imlay City placed as high as second in conference and regional play several times and every once in a while notched a victory over such traditional powers as Armada. This is laudatory when one takes into consideration that exposure to Guss program was the only tennis experience that these kids had ever encountered.

Gus is widely admired, not only for his unfailing politeness but for his "triumph and disaster as imposters" demeanor. Season after season he was the same gentle man, whether his team was highly successful, as it was on occasion, or very weak, as was sometimes the case. He was a "giver", one who worked hard to build a program year after year regardless of possibly discouraging prospects.

He is still giving. When Gus retired two years ago, Don Wisswell of Mt. Clemens approached him about being an assistant coach and this individual, who was used to being the head guy of his own program for years, didn't hesitate to accept. Although retired from public school teaching, he has not retired his commitment to coaching the game of tennis to high school youngsters. Such a giver should receive the best that the MHSTeCA, in turn, has to give: Inclusion into the Hall of Fame.

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Art Vince, Flushing

Art Vince once said that he considered himself a "jack of all trades and master of none because everything I do is self-taught". Yet, in 1990, the Flushing Chamber of Commerce named him Educator of the Year for his excellent work as a mathematics instructor. In February of 1993 he was inducted by the Michigan High School Golf Association into their hall of fame for, among other things, compiling 265 victories over 21 seasons. Now he is being inducted into the MHSTeCA Hall of Fame for 18 years of distinguished service. Indeed, there are legions of players and colleagues who would disagree with the master of none part.

Art was raised in a town, Leslie, Michigan, which, amazing]y, did not even have a store that sold tennis equipment. Returning from Jackson with a newly purchased racquet, Art dove into the game with characteristic zeal. By the time he left for college, he could defeat all but one of his hometown's players. Upon graduation from MSU where he took a tennis class as part of the physical education requirement, he began teaching in Flushing High School at a time when the school didn't even have courts. After the school installed eight and hired him as its first coach, 90 kids went out for the team but only one of the boys had had previous match experience. Nevertheless, the team won its first three matches, defeating Fenton, 4-3, in the historic first contest. By 1980, Art had achieved one of his goals: to win a league championship in both golf and tennis in the same year. Another goal, to win back-to-back titles, was achieved in 1981 when his team, even with a few players kicked off for disciplinary reasons, won another league title. In all, his kids captured 130 dual meet victories.

There are a number of reasons for Arts success as a tennis coach. For five years, he taught in the summer tennis program at the high school courts. In addition, as director of the Flushing Recreation Commission from 1965-1970, he always made it a point to bring up the need for more tennis courts in the community. He also was a member of the tennis committee at Flushing Valley Golf Club which sold the membership on building four lighted tennis courts. Undoubtedly because of Arts influence, the club has permitted the school teams to use their courts for tournaments. He further promoted tennis interest in the area by directing tournaments, including a special freshman-sophomore affair each year and a varsity invitational for the last 12 years of his coaching career. Since the Flushing facility was the best in the conference, Art ran the conference tournament virtually every year, too.

Art learned to string tennis rackets and provided this service for his kids at cost. He joined the United States Racquet Stringers Association in order to learn to do a more professional job. It was not uncommon for him to string the racquets of players from opposing teams. It also was not uncommon to see him at tennis clinics in order to further his expertise. In the early years, he attended the first 8 Midwest Tennis Coaches Clinics in Chicago before opting to stay in Michigan and attend our associations affair almost every year.

These efforts paid off, not only with dual meet wins, conference championships, and an occasional regional championship but also in the fine reputation that Flushing tennis teams enjoyed for good sportsmanship. These kids were truly a reflection of their coach who was honored as Big Nine Conference Tennis Coach of the Year and given our Distinguished Service Award, both in 1986. When his name is brought up, those who know him fairly well gush with praise for this quiet, gentle, self-effacing man.

In concluding an article about Art for the FAN Newspapers, sports editor Dave DeDona listed many goals that Art had achieved and then summarized by saying: "Now there are no other coaching goals left. Only to stay involved as long as he can. Immortality would be out of the question...or would it?" Today, the Michigan High Tennis Coaches Association answers this question resoundingly. We present him with our version of immortality: Induction into the MHSTeCA Hall of Fame.

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