Seniors Carry Hancock to Finals Win

May 30, 2014

By Burt Angeli
Special to Second Half 

IRON RIVER — Hancock’s “senior moment” keyed another MHSAA U.P. boys golf championship Thursday at George Young Recreational Complex.

The Bulldogs, with four seniors playing big roles, retained the U.P. Division 2 crown with a dominating performance. Hancock tallied a 327 to down Norway and L’Anse, both at 346. 

The difference was one stroke between Hancock and Norway in last year’s U.P. tournament. L’Anse, which had one golfer take ill Wednesday, missed out on the second-place trophy after the tiebreaker.

“The kids played great today,” Hancock coach Joe Gervais said. “It was definitely, overall, a team effort. 

“All of the scores were pretty tight and close together, which is a testament to how hard these guys push each other in practice.”

Bulldogs filled four of the top scoring spots — junior Matt Sanregret (37 front nine) and Kyle Hauswirth (38 back nine) at 81, Tanner Kearly and William Lucier at 82. Senior Tony Fisher, fifth member of the Bulldogs, was also in the mix at 84. 

“Those four seniors are all good friends, and it’s made for a lot of good friendly competition amongst the team trying to get better,” Gervais said.

Hancock boys have produced four U.P. titles and a runner-up in the last five years. 

"I think we've been fortunate as a program to have a lot of kids that like to compete with each other and make good golf scores, get better at their games, and one through five we've had some pretty solid teams," Kearly said recently.

The short season due to the weather didn’t deter the Bulldogs’ determination. 

“The winter was tough on us and, in fairness, it was tough on all of the teams in the U.P.,” Gervais said. “Very few schools got to get out on the course very much before we had to start rolling into the season.”

Tristan Leaf of L’Anse retained medalist honors, leading the way with a six-over par 78. Norway’s Justin Anderson was next at 80. 

Ray Miron of L’Anse shared third with Sanregret. Max Maloney of West Iron County was among the group at 82.

Leaf overcame a double bogey on No. 8 and triple bogey on No. 17. 

“I just told myself if I stay away from that I should be OK,” Leaf said of his front nine difficulties. “I was playing pretty good and my putting was good. I just needed my iron shots to get down.

“My drives were OK, but they should have been better.” 

The senior, medalist last year and third two years ago, carded matching 39s for his round. He registered back-to-back birdies before the “triple” on No. 17.

The senior will take his game to Ferris State, where the future pharmacist hopes to make the team as a walk-on. 

“I’ll try and see what I can do,” Leaf said of attempting to crack the Ferris roster.

Norway’s Anderson also survived an early triple bogey to garner runner-up medalist. 

“Then I started making some pars with a birdie here and there,” Anderson said. “That got my confidence back.

“I made a lot of putts, and I was chipping pretty good.”

The junior had two rounds of 40. Knights Austin Hansen, 84, and Bryce Kelly, 85, also turned in solid scores. 

“I thought we played pretty well,” Norway Coach Ben Leiker said. “The conditions were great, and the weather was finally beautiful.

“Hancock is a veteran club. They’re a great team. We would have had to play our best match of the year to be able to beat them. We’re very happy with what happened.” 

Both Leaf and Anderson applauded the George Young course layout.

“Beautiful course conditions,” Leaf said. “The greens were slower than normal, but I like them.”

Noted Anderson, “They were pretty good if you keep it in the fairway and stay out of the woods.” 

Click for full results.

PHOTO: (Top) Norway's Austin Hansen watches a shot during Thursday's MHSAA U.P. Division 2 Final. (Middle) L'Anse's Tristan Leaf watches a shot on the way to finishing atop the individual standings. (Photos by Burt Angeli.)

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)