Lansing Catholic Claims 3rd Straight in D3

June 6, 2015

By Mark Meyer
Special for Second Half 

EAST LANSING – Adam Elias is the epitome of a team player at Lansing Catholic, where MHSAA golf championships, both boys and girls, have been the norm for the past five seasons. 

The Cougars boys chalked up their third straight title Saturday afternoon at Forest Akers West, even though their senior leader did not have one of his best days.

But despite shooting 83, Elias was all smiles while clutching the team trophy and posing for victory photos. 

“Not my best day (83), but in the end it didn’t really matter,” said Elias, whose team posted a 12-shot victory, 623-635, over runner-up Ludington. “The goal was to win the title, get our third straight championship. In the end, I’m really proud of the way my team played.”

Lansing Catholic junior Owen Rush shot 77 on Saturday for a two-day total of 151 and finished third overall behind two-time MHSAA individual champion Spencer Hackett of Ludington. Hackett shot medalist rounds of even par 72 both days to finish five strokes ahead of Andrew Skibski of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, who shot 74-75-149. 

Rush and Elias had plenty of support from Cougars teammates Patrick Gillespie (75-81-156), Niko Voutsaras (79-79-158) and Ethan O’Farrell (77-83-160).

“We had some nerves at the beginning of the round,” said first-year Lansing Catholic coach Kim Johnson, “but the boys settled themselves down and tried to keep the boat steady.” 

Jackson Lumen Christi, second to Lansing Catholic in 2013 and 2014 and a four-time champion from 2009-12, finished third behind the Cougars and Ludington at 653, one stroke ahead of Flint Powers. Manistee rounded out the top five at 658.

Brock Spink of Hanover-Horton (76-76-152) and Rhet Schrauben of Portland (78-75-153) completed the top five among individuals. 

Henry Hitt (76-83-159) led Lumen Christi’s scoring, tying him with Ethan Leavitt of Ludington (77-82-159). 

Johnson lauded Lansing Catholic’s overall play but was particularly proud of Rush and Gillespie. 

“We talked about the champion mindset at the beginning of the season, and I could see that they started to adapt some of those techniques,” said Johnson. “You could tell that they were thinking positive thoughts and always looking toward the next shot.”

The championship three-peat is one moment that Elias won’t soon forget. 

“We had a rough start to the season but we worked through it,” he said. “This is huge. I could not be more proud of my team.”

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PHOTO: Lansing Catholic poses with its MHSAA championship trophy after winning its third straight title. (Middle) A player at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final hits an approach shot during the weekend. (Click to see more from

Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 20, 2022

The LPGA Professionals have named Saline High School golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak as its national Coach of the Year.

Williams-Hoak was among national award winners who were selected by the LPGA Professionals’ executive committee from a pool of Section Award winners, which were voted on by officers of those regional sections.

More on the award from LPGA Professionals:

The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.

LPGA Professionals Class A member Debbie Williams-Hoak knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels. She is a former LPGA Tour Player and track & field athlete who represented U.S. Track & Field in Russia and West Germany. She is a four-time Big Ten Champion, a member of the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame, University of Michigan Women’s Track Hall of Fame member and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame as a player, coach and teaching professional. This year, she is being inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.

Having been a multi-sport athlete accustomed to competing at the highest level, Williams-Hoak brings something unique to her coaching style. She has successfully coached boys and girls golf for the past 16 years at Saline High School in Saline, Michigan, and currently is serving as the first female president of the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association. Williams-Hoak feels proud that every girl on her team shot career lows while maintaining 100-percent academic eligibility this season, while her boys team placed second in the conference championship and qualified for its second-straight state Finals appearance.

She is dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of the game while empowering students through golf and hopes her example will pave the way for other women coaches to lead as well.

Williams-Hoak received the 2017 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf.  She was honored with the Midwest Youth Leader of the Year and Goldie Bateson Award two times, in addition to numerous recognitions as Coach of the Year from Saline High School.

She is deeply involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, which she currently serves as the LPGA Midwest Secretary since 2021. She has been site director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Greater Washtenaw Country since 2015 and acted as an advisor for the Site Director Certification program in 2021. From 2018-2021, she worked as an expert committee member for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.  She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academies in Michigan over the last two years.

"I am extremely humbled by this award, as there are so many outstanding LPGA coaches in our association. What an honor to represent the LPGA, the state of Michigan and the game of golf as a coach,” said Williams-Hoak. “It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful players who make coaching so rewarding. I am also fortunate to have such great fellow coaches in Michigan and throughout the LPGA. Thank you so much for this very special recognition."

PHOTO: Saline golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, far left, stands for the trophy shot with her girls team after the Hornets won the 2016 Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship. (MHSAA file photo)