Performance: Mona Shores' Nathan Taylor

May 13, 2019

Nathan Taylor
Muskegon Mona Shores junior – Golf

Taylor on May 3 had perhaps the highlight so far of an eventful season, shooting a 71 to earn the medalist honor at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association championship tournament at Stonegate Golf Club while leading Mona Shores to the team title and earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” for April 29-May 5. Reeths-Puffer had won the title the last two seasons, and Taylor brought a championship back home to his family as well – his father Tim, a 1990 Shores grad, also had won the tournament as a high schooler three decades ago.

Nathan Taylor and his team have enjoyed a significant rise this spring after closing the 2018 season shooting a 333 to finish fourth at their Division 1 Regional. Taylor had lowered both his nine and 18-hole averages to 39.6 and 79.2 strokes, respectively, heading into this past weekend. The latter remains on the downswing as he shot a 71 this past Friday at the Montague Invitational, finishing second after losing in a playoff, and also led the Sailors with a 78 on Saturday at the Wayne Wire Tournament in Frankenmuth. Mona Shores played in the Big Rapids Tournament on Monday, and Taylor shot a 73. The 71s at the GMAA and Montague events were his season-low rounds. His team, meanwhile, shot a 294 at the GMAA to win by 32 strokes.

Hockey always has been Taylor’s main sport – he plays center for the Fox Motors U18 AAA team, and father Tim formerly served as president of the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League. But golf has become a passion, and Taylor – last year the lone sophomore in the Mona Shores lineup and the only freshman in 2017 – has improved significantly and quickly. Taylor also carries a 3.0 GPA, with his science classes among his favorites. He has another year of high school to build on all of that success, and certainly is on his way this spring.

Coach Scott Volkmann said: “Nathan means a lot to the team, and the team means a lot to Nathan. I thought his performance (at the GMAA) was the turning point of his high school golf career. He is averaging about three shots lower on his 9-hole average and six shots lower on his 18-hole average (than as a freshman).”

Performance Point: “Going into it, I knew there was basically this one team there we had to beat that had beat us the past two years,” Taylor said of the GMAA event, referring to Reeths-Puffer. “Coach told our guys and me to just go in and play the course and don’t worry about anything else. The score will take care of itself. I just went out and played. I’ve been hitting the ball well, and I had a good score. I had no idea (my dad had won it too); I’m serious. I knew that he had a lot of great accomplishments – I did not know he had won city. I texted him and told him what I shot, and he texted me back and said we might be the first father/son duo to both win the city. That’s when I knew. I just kinda got a big smile. It’s pretty sweet to take after your dad.”

Practice pays off: “I have a younger brother (Nicholas) who will most likely be better than I am. He's in eighth grade so he'll be up next year. My brother and I spend a lot of time out on the course together. We're out there every day, after practice even. We'll go out and play nine; if we can squeeze in 18, we'll do that. My dad got me into it, my brother and I both. But golf wasn't even my main sport until this year, honestly. I've always been better at hockey. This year, the beginning of the season, we had a scrimmage and I shot 74, and I just kinda followed up from that and have been having good rounds.”

Making the jump: “I got a new driver. I got a new putter. My putting has gotten a lot better. My drive has gotten a lot better. My swing, my whole game, managing my game, just came together this year. It was actually really weird. It’s still weird to think about. Last year I had one 70s round at a JV invite, and everything else was in the 80s. This year I’ve had five or six 70s scores. Something clicked.”

State would be great: “This offseason we put in a lot of work, and so far it’s paid off. Obviously the goal is to go win states. To win Regionals would be really cool. I think we have to beat (No. 3) Rockford … you never know. We’ve got a good chance. Just to get to states would be sweet. We actually played at that course (The Fortress, home of this season’s Division 1 Final), so we’re already kinda focusing on states.”

Jordan rules: “Jordan Spieth – I think he’s always positive. He drives me to slow down. He’s really smooth with everything. (He) stays calm. I take after that, being calm and relaxed. … I think I get my competitiveness from hockey. I hate to lose at literally anything I do.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard recognizes 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. 

Past 2018-19 honorees

May 2: Ally Gaunt, New Baltimore Anchor Bay soccer - Read
April 25:
Kali Heivilin, Three Rivers softball - Read
March 28:
Rickea Jackson, Detroit Edison basketball - Read
March 21:
Noah Wiswary, Hudsonville Unity Christian basketball - Read
March 14:
Cam Peel, Spring Lake swimming - Read
March 7:
Jordan Hamdan, Hudson wrestling - Read
February 28:
Kevon Davenport, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Read
February 21:
Reagan Olli, Gaylord skiing - Read 
February 14:
Jake Stevenson, Traverse City Bay Reps hockey - Read
February 7: Molly Davis, Midland Dow basketball - Read
January 31:
Chris DeRocher, Alpena basketball - Read
January 24:
Imari Blond, Flint Kearsley bowling - Read
January 17: William Dunn, Quincy basketball - Read
November 29:
Dequan Finn, Detroit Martin Luther King football - Read
November 22: Paige Briggs, Lake Orion volleyball - Read
November 15:
Hunter Nowak, Morrice football - Read
November 8:
Jon Dougherty, Detroit Country Day soccer - Read
November 1:
Jordan Stump, Camden-Frontier volleyball - Read
October 25:
Danielle Staskowski, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golf - Read
October 18:
Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4:
Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Mona Shores’ Nathan Taylor lines up a putt during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association championship tournament May 3. (Middle) Taylor watches an approach shot on the way to winning the title. (Photos courtesy of Local Sports Journal.)

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)