Coach Mike Ingram is a graduate of Lansing Community College and Central Michigan University. He was an All-American player at Lansing Community College and competed
for two years at Central Michigan University after a stand-out high school career in Jackson, MI.
By Deborah M. Walker
It has been a slam dunk career so far for Lansing Community College basketball coach Mike Ingram. Celebrating his 500th win against the Kalamazoo Valley Cougars, Ingram’s winning record is far from time-out.
“It feels pretty good,” said Coach Ingram. “It’s a great personal accomplishment. I was in range of it when the season started even though I didn’t say anything to anybody about it.”
Coach Ingram says he was doubtful this was the year he would get his 500th win. Ingram says a slow start at the beginning of the season made his 500th win seem almost impossible. Then a mid-season turn around put the Stars back on track.
“It didn’t look like we were going to get there then we made a run towards the inner season,” said Coach Ingram.
His main focus was making it to regional game. And they did. At the regional semi-final game the Stars learned they were only one win away from Ingram’s 500th win says Ingram. Ingram says the team was surprised to learn they were so close to such a unique opportunity.
“When we played in the regional semi-final game my director came in and announced it to the team that if you guys win this next game it’s going to be the coach’s 500th win. I thought that was a little pressure but they came through for me,” said Ingram.
Lansing Community College Athletic Director Greg Mallek says sophomores had a shot at making history. Mallek says he wanted to stress to the team sophomores would not get the opportunity again. Freshmen playing in the championship game had a chance to return the next year, sophomores would not, Mallek says.
“Our freshmen would have had the opportunity to come back next year and get him his 500th win,” says Mallek. “But for those sophomores that we had in the program this was it. This was the opportunity to put another feather in their cap for the end of the season and say they were a part of something special.”
Mallek says the team embraced the message. Mallek says smiles filled the room. The team was inspired and took it as a personal challenge Mallek added.
Coach Ingram says he did “nothing special” the night of his 500th win. He said he plans to celebrate his accomplishment although he is not sure how. Ingram tried not to get excited about the win because the next night was the championship game he says.
Despite losing the championship game Coach Ingram says he is thankful for a wonderful season. Coach Ingram says the support of his team and assistant coaches made his victories possible. He also mentioned that his assistant coach Terry Harris was especially insturmental in helping him get his wins.
“I was glad he was there,” Coach Ingram said. “He’s been a part of a lot of my victories.”
But not all of Coach Ingram’s wins have been the result of his team’s efforts. Ingram says his wife, Phebeit, has played an important role in his career. Ingram says her support made winning possible.
“I thank my wife for her support. She’s been a good partner in my career,” said Ingram. “I think you must to have someone that loves you and loves what you’re doing to be successful at it and she’s been more than that for me.”
Ingram says there was no special formula for his success. Wins accumulate over time says Ingram. Hard work and dedication to the game is what brought him to this point Ingram added.
“If you get that many wins it means you’ve been coaching a long time. I think this is my 24th year,” said Ingram.
Coach Ingram says he is proud of his long career at LCC. Coach Ingram once played basketball for LCC and says Lansing Community College opened doors and gave his career a start. Ingram says he built lasting friendships as well as a great career at LCC.
Ingram says LCC guided his career. Ingram says his LCC basketball coach Art Frank helped him obtain a basketball scholarship to Central Michigan University after graduation. Ingram says Frank also helped him get his coaching job at LCC. Ingram says Frank is still a friend and mentor.
“LCC has been a great spot and a great opportunity for me,” said Ingram.
LCC gave Coach Ingram a chance to prove himself Ingram says. Coaching for LCC since 1988 Coach Ingram has received many awards. Ingram was named region XII coach of the year in 1990-91 and 2005-06. He also received the Western Conference coach of the year 14 times.
Mallek says Coach Ingram’s impact on the school and community has been immeasurable. Mallek says it is difficult to pin point any specific contribution he has made. Mallek says Ingram is a powerful leader and has set high standards for the program.
“He’s been a staple in our program for 25 years so to try and recapitulate what he’s done for the institution is really hard,” Mallek says. “The relationships he’s built to help establish a positive reputation for LCC athletics is immeasurable.”
Ingram says his success is close to home. Ingram is a supporter of the local community and says he built his program with kids from the Lansing area in mind.
“I’ve built this program on the kids in Lansing. I wanted to make sure that the kids in Lansing knew that they have a place to play when they get through playing in high school,” said Ingram.
Coach Ingram says LCC is a top school and offers many opportunities for area students. Ingram says over 95 percent of the players in his program come from the Lansing area.
“Kids have to realize that we are one of the top programs in the country,” said Ingram. “LCC is for the most part for the kids in the area. I built it on that.”
LCC’s basketball program is good for the local community and good for the school. Ingram says this is because LCC administration is supportive and understands the value the program adds to the college.
“Because our programs are so good it’s easy to back up a good athletic program,” said Ingram. “It’s not that you’re putting teams out there that aren’t being successful, a lot of our teams have won national championships. A lot of our teams have won conferences.”
Coach Ingram is not the only one in the family to pursue a basketball career. Ingram says his children’s basketball careers are only natural. Ingram says his career not only benefited him it inspired his children to pursue college basketball. Ingram says being a college basketball coach allowed his children to grasp a different aspect of college life.
“I think it worked out well for them the balancing act of being able to be around college,” said Ingram.
He is glad his children pursued college basketball. Mike Jr. played basketball for Ingram at LCC for one year. Alayne played basketball at the University of Michigan. Justin played basketball for Toledo. Jocelyn played for Grand Valley University and Lamar University.
He says exposure to college basketball at a young age is the reason for his children’s success. Ingram says his children accompanied him to most games and became comfortable with college life.
“They were in the gym with me. They were with me all the time. I think they seen how much I loved it. I think they seen that basketball can lead you to some places. It will give you some opportunities,” said Ingram.
Coach Ingram is extending those opportunities to players of all ages. Ingram coaches a basketball camp at Lansing Community College for kids in 3rd to 8th grade. Ingram says it is important for children to have a solid basketball program because it gives kids someone to look up to.
Basketball camp is great for players because it gives them an advantage said Coach Ingram. He says it is better for players to have exposure to the game before trying out.
“It does give you an advantage over someone who has never played basketball who just showed up for tryouts and never been around kids before,” says Coach Ingram.
Not all kids are looking to make a career out of basketball. Coach Ingram says that all sorts of kids attend basketball camp. He says some are serious about a career in basketball while others just want to have fun.
“Some kids come to camp for fun and basketball camp can be fun to. It isn’t always about trying to get a scholarship. Some kids are a little more serious about it. Some kids are here for fun. Either way we try to make it a great experience for all kids,” says Coach Ingram.
He says his work in the Lansing area is paying off. Ingram says he tries to be fair. Coach Ingram says his program gives equal opportunity to everyone. Ingram says his top rated program is for anyone who wants to try hard and is willing to accept strong leadership and guidance.
“We’re one of the top 2 or 3 programs in the state. So you do have to be a good basketball player but know that there is an opportunity here for a kid that wants to come in work hard and be a part of a team,” said Ingram.
Coach Ingram says his 500th win was a huge accomplishment but he remains focused on the future. Ingram says his goal remains the same. Ingram ultimately wants to win the national championship he says. Ingram says although he did not accomplish his goal this year next season is a new opportunity.
“We didn’t accomplish any of those goals this year but I think we got close to it once we realized we weren’t going to win the conference this year. We set a goal to win the region and I was very pleased and proud that the guys got to that regional championship game,” said Ingram.
Coach Ingram says the winning team will sign a basketball to mark the accomplishment. Ingram says the team will sign the ball at the annual basketball banquet. Ingram says he is excited to attend the banquet this year. Awards will be given out to four members of his team says Ingram.
He has no plans for retirement. Coach Ingram says his wife still enjoys the game and his children still like to watch. Ingram says as long as he continues to have success and win games he will continue to coach. There are so many others who enjoy his coaching too.
He has done a fantastic job coaching at LCC although Mallek jokes Coach Ingram would have gotten to his 500th win sooner if it was not for him. Mallek claims he is the only coach to hold a winning record against Ingram.
“Coach Ingram could have gotten that win one day earlier but the only reason he didn’t was because when I was interim coach at Delta I actually beat him so I kept him from getting that 500th win,” Mallek laughed.
This story was printed in the April 6- April 19, 2014 edition.