Performance: Carney's Hunter Eichhorn
June 9, 2017
Carney-Nadeau senior – Golf
Hailing from a school of just 90 students, Eichhorn added one more statewide accomplishment last week by becoming the first in MHSAA boys golf history to win four Finals individual championships. Eichhorn shot a 66 at Irish Oaks Golf course in Gladstone to win the Upper Peninsula Division 3 championship by four strokes, lead the Wolves to their third straight team title and earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Eichhorn averaged 34 strokes for nine holes and 68 strokes for 18 this season, cutting roughly three strokes off his tournament average. With Carney-Nadeau having an enrollment of fewer than 100 students, Eichhorn was eligible to play high school sports as an eighth grader and tied for second at the 2013 U.P. Division 3 Final before winning the event the next four seasons. Entering his last Final on June 1, he was one of six players in MHSAA history who had won three individual titles and the most recent since Manistique's Mike Nagy won his third in 2012 (before going on to play at University of Tennessee).
His talents aren’t limited to golf, however; Eichhorn played basketball all four years of high school and joined the varsity in that sport as a sophomore. Over the next three seasons, and only 65 games, Eichhorn scored 1,068 points and made 244 3-pointers – the 3s are tied for eighth most in MHSAA history. As a senior playing for Jacob Polfus – who also coached his golf team – Eichhorn averaged 23.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game and made a school record 86 of 171 3-point tries. He also set a single-game school record with 12 3-pointers against Milwaukee (Wis.) Academy of Science, and total connected on 50 percent of his shots from the floor and 88 percent of his free throw attempts this winter in helping his team finish 15-6. If those sports didn’t keep him busy enough, Eichhorn decided last fall to run cross country for the first time, and he finished third in his graduating class with a 3.86 grade-point average. He’ll continue at Marquette University on scholarship with the men’s golf team, and study business communications.
Coach Jacob Polfus said: “Hunter is the true definition of a workhorse, and he shows that with hard work you can achieve anything. You see so many kids these days talk about working hard, but Hunter is a kid who strives to be the best at everything that he does. Since he has been a little kid, he has spent many hours on the golf course perfecting his game. He is someone that will go to the range after meets, or go play another 18; he is constantly looking to improve his game every day. The biggest improvement that he has made over the years is how he handles himself on the golf course. He has come to realize that you aren’t going to hit the perfect shot all the time, or you aren’t going to have the perfect round, but he keeps his confidence high at all times. It is hard to put into words what Hunter has done for the golf program and for golf in the U.P. He has shown kids today that you can achieve anything that you want if you are willing to work hard and go after your dreams. … Hunter has the same demeanor on the basketball court as he did with his golf game. He was always striving to be his best and get the best out of others. He always gave me his most and a lot extra every single practice and every single day. He is someone that was constantly at the gym wanting to and willing to improve his game every chance that he got. He is one of the hardest workers that I have seen in my eight years of coaching. The biggest thing about Hunter on the basketball court was how much he cared for his teammates. His stats show how good of a season he had, but that doesn’t even begin to tell what kind of player he was. He was always there for his team, leading them through drills and showing them how hard you have to work to be successful. He is a coach’s dream to have on your team, and he exemplified everything that you want as an athlete both on and off the court.”
Performance Point: “It was something that as a freshman or sophomore, I didn’t see that day coming because I don’t look that far ahead,” Eichhorn said of his four golf championships. “It was special, especially to go out the way I did. I couldn’t have honestly dreamed of having a better performance in my last UPs. … It’s unique. In a community like this you know everybody; you have to, there’s only a certain amount of you there. So (becoming the first four-time champ) is a special feeling. I’m honored to be the one to do it.”
Thanks, Grandpa: “When I was younger, basketball always was my first sport. I golfed with my grandpa a couple of times and ended up just loving it. Summers when I was younger, I’d go over there for three or four days and we’d golf in the morning and again in the afternoon, playing as much as we could. That’s where it came from, just from him.”
Getting better, body and mind: “As I got older, I hit the ball farther. But really it was just the mental toughness in golf; that’s what it comes down to. At a certain point it’s just believing in yourself and recovering from the unexpected without getting frustrated.”
Grind it out: “When I was younger, it was cool to hit a great shot. But I like the part about (golf) now when if you’re struggling or playing good, you just keep grinding it out. Just keep pushing. That’s by far my favorite part, just getting better, because no matter how good you are you can just get better at it. You can play the round of your life, but I guarantee you can look back at a shot or two where you could have been better.”
Hoops crossover: It’s the same as golf; when basketball season rolls around, it’s winter and I don’t play golf as much, obviously, but I love the grind for basketball too – more than I thought I would. With basketball, I joined for something to do, for fun, and I ended up having a deep passion for that one too.”
U.P. power: “It’s just a passion for the game. I enjoy getting out and practicing every day. I know we’re limited (by the weather), but when golf season arrives, it’s what we do, what we dedicate our summer to. That’s why the U.P. has produced good golfers. It’s cool, knowing I’m coming from this area – we have a school with 17 kids in my graduating class – and the U.P. being the U.P. and how small it is, with a limited time to be playing golf. It is a pride thing, to be honest.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
June 1: Grace Stark, White Lake Lakeland track & field – Read
May 25: Brendon Gouin, Gaylord golf – Read
May 18: Hannah Ducolon, Bay City All Saints softball – Read
May 11: Mason Phillips, Salem track & field – Read
May 4: Lillian Albaugh, Farwell track & field – Read
April 27: Amber Gall, Shepherd track & field – Read
April 20: Sloane Teske, East Grand Rapids tennis – Read
March 30: Romeo Weems, New Haven basketball – Read
March 23: Jaycie Burger and Maddie Clark, Pittsford basketball – Read
March 16: Camden Murphy, Novi swimming & diving – Read
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling – Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball – Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball – Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball – Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football – Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball – Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball – Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country – Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country – Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis – Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTO: (Top) Carney-Nadeau's Hunter Eichhorn watches one of his shots during an event this season at Escanaba Country Club. (Middle) Eichhorn holds the Division 3 championship trophy after last week's U.P. Final in Gladstone. (Photos by Dennis Grall and Mike Mattson, respectively.)
Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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)