Al Must Named Coach Of The Year

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Al Must holds his 2016 national high school boys tennis coach of the year plaque.
Al Must holds his 2016 national high school boys tennis coach of the year plaque.

Al Must still can’t believe it.

But it’s true. He’s the National High School Coaches Association’s 2016 Boys Tennis Coach of the Year.

Must has been the boys tennis coach at Rochester Adams for 32 years, and he’s compiled an outstanding record of team and individual successes. For example, the Highlanders have won more than 400 dual matches during his watch.

Just before the start of the boys tennis season, at an August meeting of Adams fall coaches, Must learned about his award from Adams athletic director Jason Rapp.

It took a while for the reality to set in.

“Jason said someone at our school won a national coach of the year award. I wondered who that was,” Must said. “When he said my name, I said, ‘Who me?’ I had no clue. No idea. I was stunned.

“I never dreamed I’d be in the consideration to be a national coach of the year, much less win it,” he said. “I’m humbled.”

The more he thought about the award, Must said, the more humbled he became.

“There are so many great high school boys tennis coaches in Oakland County and in the state,” he said. “Multiply that by all the states. It’s mind-boggling to win a national award.”

Must was honored for winning the award Oct. 27 at an event in the Adams media center. Current and former players, relatives and friends were among those in attendance. There were several speeches.

“It was like, This Is Your Life,” Must said. “One of my current players sang, ‘Al’s Way’ to the tune of ‘My Way.’ I’ve gotten congratulations from so many people the last several weeks. It’s just awesome.”

Rapp called Must “an excellent guy” in a story about the award that appeared on MiPrepZone.com.

“You can talk about 400 wins, regional titles or league titles, but it’s the words of the young men who spoke Oct. 27 about what Al means to them on and off the tennis court that speaks volumes about what he’s all about,” Rapp said.

Must retired five years ago as a social worker at Van Hoosen Middle School in the Rochester School District. He hasn’t left his social work skills behind him.

“I consider coaching and social work to be blended,” he said. “I use social work philosophies and techniques like coping skills with my players to help them succeed. I feel I can communicate with them, get through to them and get them to respond.

“It’s important to make their experience on our team a memorable one. Many of the best things in life happen when you’re part of a team.”

Must is the 16th winner of the NSHCA’s Boys Tennis Coach of the Year award and the third from Michigan. The others are Bob Wood from Grosse Pointe University-Liggett and Tom Pullen from Ann Arbor Pioneer.

This isn’t Must’s first huge coaching honor. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

Must, 63, doesn’t intend to stop coaching anytime soon.

“I’ll keep going until I’m no longer effective,” he said. “I still have a lot of energy.”

He sure does. The 22-year-certified tennis professional plays and coaches the sport yearround in Michigan and in Florida — where he lives during the winter months — and he’s been the head tennis professional for 32 years at Bloomfield Hills Swim and Tennis Club.

Must grew up in Huntington Woods and graduated from North Farmington High School and Michigan State University before attending graduate school at the University of Denver.

He began his high school tennis coaching career at Delta (Colo.), coaching successful boys and girls teams before coming back to Michigan and starting at Adams in 1984.

He coached the Adams girls tennis team from 1984-1993, winning a state championship in 1987.

Must lives in Waterford. He has four grown children and two grandchildren.

By Steve Stein, Contributing Writer

Send sports news to stevestein502004@yahoo.com.

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