March 29, 2012
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Carla Fles, Cornerstone's (Mich.) women's basketball head coach, announced that she will retire after completing an 18-13 overall season that included her 300th career win last month.
Since taking the position as head coach in 1999 she has led the Golden Eagles to four Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) championships, five WHAC Tournament Championships and eight appearances at the National Tournament, with five round of 16 finishes and a national runner-up finish.
Her overall record is 301-129 with a .700 win percentage, making her the all-time winningest coach in CS history. She has never had a losing season.
Fles' decision was based on her desire to spend more time with her family. She and her husband have two young children at home.
"This has been a very hard decision," Fles said. "I love coaching, and I love Cornerstone, but I also have a strong desire to be with my kids and it is time for me to be there for them. I want to be actively involved in their day to day activities. I'm grateful to Cornerstone for giving me the opportunity to mentor young people and coach at an outstanding Christ-centered university."
Fles has been named WHAC Coach of the Year three times, in 2008, 2004 and 2000, and in 2004 was named regional coach of the year by the WBCA. She was also named BCAM (Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan) College Coach of the year in 2002. She has coached 15 NAIA All-Americans, 17 NAIA Academic All-Americans, one WHAC Player of the Year and four WHAC Newcomers of the Year.
"She not only is a talented coach but she is a mentor and role model to her team," said Dave Grube, athletic director for Cornerstone University. "She will be greatly missed."
Tami Thelen Wernette played for Fles from 2005-2009 and served as an assistant coach last year. She said Fles' impact on her players goes beyond the basketball court.
"She is an amazing and very talented woman not only because of her success at Cornerstone but because people can see Christ's love shining through her," Wernette said. "Carla's success at Cornerstone is not because she has never had a losing season or because she has won multiple WHAC championships, but because she has served the Lord with all of her heart. She challenged me while I was playing for her to not only become the best athlete that I could be, but more importantly to become the best servant that I could be for Christ."
Robyn Veltkamp, senior guard on the Cornerstone women's basketball team, said Fles will be difficult to replace.
"Over her 13 years, [Coach Fles] has brought this program up to what it is today," added Veltkamp, who was recruited by Fles with her twin sister, Melissa. "She has poured her life into it and as result the program has a great reputation."
Prior to coaching at Cornerstone, Fles served as an assistant coach for her alma mater, Central Michigan. At CMU she left her mark in the record books and was inducted into CMU's Hall of Fame in 2004. She was a four-year starter (1989-93). She graduated from CMU in 1994.
Cornerstone has begun an extensive search for a new women's head coach to continue the successful program that Fles leaves behind.