Spring Lake Ace with Basketball Name Showing Off Buckets of Golf Game

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

June 7, 2022

His last name may be associated with basketball, but Spring Lake senior Evan McDermott is making a name for himself on the golf course.

McDermott’s uncle, Greg, is the longtime men’s basketball coach at Creighton University (Neb.). Greg’s son and Evan’s cousin, Doug, was a three-time, All-American basketball player for his father at Creighton, who recently completed his eighth season in the NBA, currently with the San Antonio Spurs.

Evan McDermott is putting his 6-foot-4 frame and athletic ability to use on the golf course, where the slim bomber has emerged as one of the state’s best players.

“For a long time, I thought I was going to be a basketball player, because that’s obviously big in our family,” said Evan, a 3.9-GPA student who did play basketball for the Lakers. “But then I fell in love with golf.”

McDermott captured the medalist honor with a 3-under par 69 at last week’s Lower Peninsula Division 2 Regional at Lincoln Hills in Ludington, helping the Lakers to the team championship.

He and his teammates are putting in the work and hoping for a similar result at this weekend’s Division 2 Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University in nearby Allendale.

McDermott can’t think of a better place to conclude his high school career because, outside of the course he grew up playing (Terra Verde in Nunica) and the Lakers’ home course (Spring Lake Country Club), it’s the golf course that he has played the most.

It also helps that one of his biggest mentors in the sport during his high school career happens to be GVSU men’s golf coach Gary Bissell, who is Director of Instruction at The Meadows.

And, finally, he and his teammates have good memories from their last tournament at the links-style course. Spring Lake won the Gull Lake Invitational at The Meadows on May 19, a tournament which featured 11 of the state’s top 16 teams in Division 2, and McDermott placed second overall with a 71.

Spring Lake golfFirst-year Spring Lake coach Dan Start thinks the combination of a familiar course and an experienced team – with a leader like McDermott – could help the Lakers improve on last year’s eighth-place Finals finish.

“We have played three competitive rounds at The Meadows already this year, so that’s a big plus,” said Start. “All of our guys have the ability to score well, but I like what I saw at Regionals. We had struggles early, but the guys battled and battled and got themselves back on track.”

Max Brown has emerged as a solid No. 2 man for the Lakers, coming up big at Regionals with a 75. Senior cousins Dylan Lisman and RJ Lisman hold down the third and fourth positions, while junior Conrad Bush and senior Braiden McClain have battled for the fifth playing spot.

But without question, McDermott is the leader of the Lakers.

McDermott uses his long, flexible frame to crank drives approaching 300 yards – regularly giving him an edge over his competition. He considers ball-striking his biggest strength, and in recent weeks he’s been heating up on and around the greens.

“I really played well at Regionals. I played the last 11 holes four-under in some big winds,” said McDermott, 18, who has an older sister, Mia, who attends Notre Dame. “I’m just going to try and keep that going at state and not over-complicate things. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

McDermott, a four-year varsity golfer for SL, first made a name for himself by making a run to the finals at the 2020 Michigan Junior State Amateur at TPC Michigan in Dearborn, the summer before his junior year. He then placed third at last year’s LP Division 2 Final, shooting a 68 in his final round.

This spring, he has picked up where he left off as the steady leader of the Lakers. McDermott powered his team to the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue title, with the highlight a sizzling 31 at SLCC in a conference jamboree.

“Evan has amazing physical skills, but he also has the mental toughness – he’s steady Eddie,” explained Start. “You combine that with his work ethic, and the sky’s the limit. He could be a professional golfer.”

He will take the first step in that direction in August, when he leaves West Michigan to play golf and study mechanical engineering at the University of Nebraska.

McDermott has roots in the Heartland as his father, Marty, grew up in Cascade, Iowa, and later was the head men’s basketball coach at Lake Superior State (where he met his wife and Evan’s mother, Rachel) and the University of Dubuque. He has served as the athletic director at Muskegon Community College for the past 15 years.

Evan McDermott said he was “blown away” by his visit to Lincoln, Neb., in the fall, especially attending the Cornhuskers’ night football game against Michigan.

“It was an incredible atmosphere, and it just felt like home,” McDermott explained. “With my dad’s family from down there, I’ve spent a fair amount of time there growing up. I’m used to the cornfields and the wind and the heat.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at kendra.tom@gmail.com with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Spring Lake’s Evan McDermott unloads on a drive. (Middle) McDermott will continue his academic and golf careers at University of Nebraska. (Photos courtesy of the Spring Lake boys golf program.)

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)