Ingram, who has been at LCC for 29 Years, Has Built the Stars Into a Community College Powerhouse Program
EAST LANSING, Mich. - It happened by chance.
When Mike Ingram graduated from Central Michigan in 1983, he had little desire to coach basketball. The former Lansing Community College All-American and Central Michigan shooting guard figured when his time as a player was over, and his time in basketball was finished too.
Then one Sunday, close to five years after his last game for the Chippewas, by chance, he decided he wanted to watch a Michigan State basketball game in person.
“At that time, Jud Heathcote’s telephone number was in the phonebook, and I called him that morning, and I asked him if he remembered me and if I could get a couple tickets,” Ingram said. “He was so excited to hear from me. He said, ‘Yeah, of course, you can get a couple tickets.’ I think that passed the bug into me.”
After the game, Ingram felt it – he wanted to be involved in basketball again.
The next day, he went to LCC to see Art Frank, his old coach. Ingram told Frank he was thinking about getting back into basketball.
Frank told him he wanted to make that happen.
And it did. Ingram was on Frank’s staff as an assistant the next season, and the Stars took home the NJCAA National Championship.
Two years later, in 1990, Ingram was given the reins as LCC’s head coach after Frank retired, the post he’s held has to this day.
Now, in his 29th season as the coach of the LCC men’s team, Ingram, now 62, is still going strong. He has turned LCC into a community college powerhouse, winning 19 MCCAA Western Conference championships. Ingram was inducted into the NCJAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017.
He’s been named Region XII coach of the year four times and received the Western Conference coach of the year award 19 times.
And on Jan. 22, he reached another milestone: his 600th win at LCC. The Stars defeated Glen Oaks Community College, 102-86, to give Ingram his big victory.
“I surprised myself early with the success that I was having,” he said. “My first five or six years, the players I had were looking for a leader, somebody that could guide them and somebody they could look up to. I just happened to be the guy.”
That’s where Ingram came in. He said he was always a great leader, but that doesn’t mean his success happened without the help of others.
Ray Kimball, Ingram’s first assistant at LCC, has been on this basketball journey for while. They played for two years at LCC, then went to Central Michigan together, and have been friends forever.
When Ingram got the LCC job, the first person he called was Kimball. He wanted him to be on his coaching staff.
Kimball, now the athletic director for Cocoa Beach (Fla.) Junior Senior High School, said he always thought Ingram had the qualities needed to be a successful coach.
“Not only did he play the game, but he understood the game,” Kimball said. “He knew where everybody was. He knew what everybody’s responsibilities were, and that’s a coach in the making on the floor. Someone that understands how the game is played and where the ball needs to go at a certain time and what needs to happen in certain situations, he just had that knack and skill.”
Ingram never considered leaving for another job, despite all his successes at LCC.
There was only one job he wanted, and he had it. He’s a full-time LCC faculty member, on top of coaching, but most importantly, while working at LCC, Ingram was able to see his four children, Mike, Layne, Justin and Jocelyn, grow up with wife Phebeit.
“It gave me a lot of room to stay involved in my kids’ lives,” he said. “They were doing a lot of stuff, like sports and I never thought of trying to move on while they were in high school and college. I was able to be there for almost everything they participated in which was important to me.”