NorthPointe Follows Ace to Team Title

June 9, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian junior Erik Fahlen should consider playing in rain more often.

After all, it’s hard to imagine many better scores being turned in if there had been perfect weather on the second day of the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Boys Golf Finals at Forest Akers East.

Fahlen shot a great score during Friday’s first round, firing a 71, but did even better amid far more miserable conditions during the second and final day.

The steady rain was no hindrance to Fahlen, who shot a 5-under par score of 67 to win the medalist honor.

More importantly to Fahlen, it wasn’t the only first-place prize he got his hands on.

Thanks to four golfers breaking 80, NorthPointe Christian captured its first MHSAA team title trophy since 1996 with a sizzling score of 595. (NorthPointe's first two championships in boys golf came under its former name, Grand Rapids Baptist.)

It all started with Fahlen, who said he never had shot a score that low in rain before.

“Rain is always a battle keeping all your stuff dry,” he said. “It’s always hard to keep focus, and that was the important thing for today. In Florida weather I’ve shot this score, but not in Michigan rain.”

Fahlen had six birdies and one bogey on Saturday, finishing three strokes overall ahead of Thomas Hursey of Suttons Bay (67-74-141).

For NorthPointe Christian, it was a culmination of a year’s worth of anticipation after they left Forest Akers East with the runner-up trophy last year, but knowing every single golfer in its lineup was coming back.

“As soon as we left, we said we have to come back next year and tear it up,” Fahlen said. “All year long, that was on our team’s mind. That was our goal the whole season, to work hard for this exact day. We came out and accomplished it.”

NorthPointe Christian coach Erik Fahlen, Sr., said his squad shot its best 36-hole score at the tournament “by a lot.”

“It was a great day,” Fahlen, Sr. said. “The kids handled the rain well today. The kids came ready to play.”

Two-time reigning team champion Clarkston Everest Collegiate and Kalamazoo Christian tied for second with a 628.

Everest Collegiate entered the day just six shots behind NorthPointe Christian and saw Mitch Lowney shoot a 70 to finish with a two-day total of 145.

But NorthPointe Christian had too much depth for anyone else to compete with this time.

“You can’t win on the first day but you can lose on the first day, and we didn’t,” Everest Collegiate coach David Smith said. “We kept ourselves close. We thought that would send a little message, but it didn’t. They kept firing bullets, and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

Colin Sikkenga led the way for Kalamazoo Christian with a final total of 143 (72-71) to tie for third individually with Clinton’s Austin Fauser.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian poses for a photo after clinching the LP Division 4 title. (Middle) Everest Collegiate’s Mia Korns connects on a drive. (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)