MAPLE CITY — Rob Flaska spent most of the last 35 years working alongside countless incredible basketball coaches whose lessons rubbed off on him.
Coaching in the college ranks from Texas State to Detroit Mercy, Flaska had the chance to coach against (and beat) legends like Bobby Knight. It was, however, a lesson from Glen Lake coaching legend Don Miller that Flaska still utters today.
“Never stop learning,” Flaska said.
Flaska was tabbed to lead the Glen Lake boys basketball program Tuesday and hopes to bring a bit of Miller’s old school lessons back to the program 43 years after winning a state title there in 1977.
“I’m part of the old Laker basketball and I have a lot of those tendencies in me,” Flaska said. “If I can measure up to that I think it will be a great experience for the players and I’ll bring success. Those are some Hall of Fame caliber coaches so it’ll be hard to measure up to.”
The former college coach spent 30 years coaching men’s basketball before stepping away from an assistant role at Texas State in 2016. Flaska spent time as the head coach with Centenary College of Louisiana from 2005-2008, with a 24-65 record before a move to Division III prompted a coaching switch. This is his first high school head coaching position.
The 60-year-old coach started with Indiana State before coaching at Detroit Mercy, Mott Community College and Texas Pan-American before moving to Division 1 at Texas Christian University (TCU) and Arkansas as an assistant.
“Seeing his resume and the fact that he worked his way from community college to D1 and that he was a coach at the D1 level,” Glen Lake athletic director Mark Mattson said. “Former programs spoke very highly of him and so too did the people from the Glen Lake area.
“Really looking forward to having a guy with his resume and his pedigree of coaching. It was a no-brainer to me.”
The Lakers searched for a new coach after Rich Ruelas stepped away to spend more time with family four weeks ago. Miller, who rejoined as an assistant with the Lakers five years ago, also stepped away from the program after more than 40 years on the sideline.
Flaska, who played for Miller on the 1977 title team, said he understands the culture at Glen Lake and was eager to step in after the community rallied around him. Mattson said he received glowing recommendations from community members, former players, bosses and coaches of Flaska.
“It makes it that much more special that he comes from our backyard and went to Glen Lake,” Mattson said. “I am completely confident he will provide a fun atmosphere and I know he will use his resources well.”
Flaska said Mattson and superintendent John Hoover showed him that the Laker community is committed to the boys basketball program. That was a big part of why he came back to coaching after thinking he was retired.
“I’m stepping into a program that is highly successful and has high expectations, probably more so than any program in northern Michigan,” Flaska said. “I want to maintain our success and hopefully take it to another level.”
The Lakers lost four starters from last year’s Northwest Conference championship team. Glen Lake played in the Division 3 state championship game three seasons ago.
Flaska said he plans to surround himself with other experienced coaches and bring his high-powered college offense to the floor this fall.