Dube, Painesdale-Jeffers Rule in UPD2

May 30, 2018

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

NORWAY – Payton Dube has had an extremely busy spring sports season at Hancock High School.

On Wednesday, the sophomore capped off one of her two sports by winning medalist honors at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 Girls Golf Final.

Dube posted an 84 (44-40) to coast to the title by 19 shots at Oak Crest Golf Course.

"It was all about making smart plays," Dube said as light rain began to fall shortly after she finished. "I was able to get on (the greens) in regulation, and that helps the scores well. If you get in the fairway, that always helps."

She had two birdies, one on each side, while starting on No. 11.

"When I hit a good drive, it gives me confidence the next (shot) will be good," she said.

Dube, who was in contention throughout the handful of spring meets that were salvaged after a lengthy winter's grip forced her indoors for numerous practice sessions, said, "I didn't know what to expect (in the Finals)" because she was competing against different schools.

The only member of the girls golf team at Hancock, Dube also spends the spring playing softball for the Bulldogs. Golf is her No. 1 choice and would get the nod if there were ever a conflict between the two sports.

"We have a small (Class C) school, and spring has so many other sports. You definitely have to prioritize," she said of her busy schedule that also includes a heavy academic load. She was late for only one softball game this season.

Topping the team scoreboard, the Painesdale-Jeffers girls won their third U.P. crown, adding to titles taken in 2006 and 2007.

Coach Tyler Bailey's team includes his younger sister Alexis and Gracie Asaila, who shared second place individuals with Norway's Danae Anderson at 103.

"It is awesome. It feels great to actually be her coach," Tyler Bailey said.

The Jets didn't realize they had beaten the only two other full teams until it was announced, Bailey noting he kept that news quiet.

When that news struck them, he said, "Their faces all lit up.”

The 481 was his team’s best score of this abbreviated spring. "I knew they had the potential to pull it out,” Bailey added. “Our expectations were they wanted to win.”

Dube’s father is a teacher at Hancock High School and sets up a golf simulator in his classroom for his daughter's practice when snow typically covers the Copper Country.

"You don't have to be outside to practice," she said with a grin.

Hancock coach Paul Sintkowski, who is also the golf pro at Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton, said Dube is active on the junior golf circuit in Wisconsin during the summer. "She has played her whole life. She has 7-8 years in the junior golf program (at Portage Lake that has about 150 participants)," he said.

"The kids have put in their time up here. A lot of them play hockey, so their coordination stays sharp."

Sintkowski hopes the interest in the girls junior program begins to carry into the high school ranks. He said about 20 girls played golf at five Copper Country schools this spring. But Houghton, a perennial power, had 11 of the 20. He said starting a co-op program among other schools might provide a way to get more female participation.

"A lot of people don't take it too seriously," Dube said of trying to get other girls to play golf. "A lot of people don't find it challenging if they don't play (golf).

"You still have to practice that skill. In golf, you are playing the course, not the other player."

Sintkowski said Dube also will play in the Upper Peninsula Ladies Golf Association tournament at Norway in July.

"She hits the ball well, she is athletic but she needs a bit of focus. She had a good score today, but it could have been four-five strokes better," he said. "She is learning, but she has to get a little more polish. She has all the tools to play golf after high school."

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PHOTOS: Sophomore Payton Dube of Hancock uses her rangefinder to get the yardage to the pin on the 13th hole at Norway’s Oak Crest Golf Course on Wednesday at the Upper Peninsula Division 2 Girls Golf Finals. With her is coach Paul Sintkowski. The system worked perfectly as her approach shot struck the flag. (Middle) Donae Anderson of Norway blasts out of a bunker by the 15th green. She tied for second, shooting 103. (Photos by Dennis Grall.)

Michigan Leaders in 3 Sports Earn National Honors from NFHS Coaches Association

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

January 16, 2024

Detroit Cass Tech boys basketball coach Steve Hall, Farmington Hills Mercy girls golf coach Vicky Kowalski and East Grand Rapids girls swimming & diving coach Butch Briggs and have been named a 2022-23 National Coach of the Year in their respective sports by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.

They were selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The following brief bios include an excerpts from each honoree’s coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.

Steve Hall headshotSteve Hall guided Detroit Cass Tech to its first MHSAA Finals championship last season as the Technicians capped a 28-1 run. He’s 160-30 in his eighth season directing Cass Tech, with his team 9-0 this winter, and he has a career high school record of 370-103 having also coached at Detroit Rogers (1996-97 through 2004-05) and Detroit Northwestern (2005-06 through 2007-08). He led Rogers to three straight Class D championships from 2003-05, led Northwestern to its first Detroit Public School League championship in 30 years and Cass Tech to its first in the PSL in 19 seasons. He also coached collegiately as an assistant at Duquesne University (2008-09 through 2011-12) and Youngstown State University (2011-12 through 2014-15) before taking over at Cass Tech for the 2015-16 season. He has received multiple state Coach of the Year awards during his tenures at Rogers and Cass Tech, and also serves the latter as athletic director and boys cross country coach.   

“My coaching philosophy is ‘Learning Life Skills Through Basketball.’ I have encountered many youngsters that value basketball more than anything. Therefore, I use basketball as a carrot to dangle to help them acquire life skills and other necessities that can benefit them in their lives. Ultimately, when the ball stops bouncing they may be quality fathers, husbands, principals, CEOs, etc., and positive contributors to society. My motto is, “Be better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.” My athletic philosophy is scholarships and championships in that order! We love to win. But winning is not only on the scoreboard but also in life. Accountability, Reliability, Dependability and Responsibility. “Do what you are supposed to do, be where you are supposed to be, every play and every day.” God has blessed me with high morals, values and unmatched energy to leave my student athletes better than I found them.”

Vicky Kowalski headshotVicky Kowalski completed her 46th season this fall coaching Farmington Hills Mercy’s girls golf team, and led the program to its second-straight Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship and fourth MHSAA Finals title overall. Her teams also have won seven Regional and 21 league championships and were 220-50 in matches entering the season. She has received several coaching awards over the years including statewide awards from the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association (MIGCA) and Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA). Kowalski also is in her 22nd season as Mercy’s girls bowling coach and has coached multiple subvarsity seasons of basketball and volleyball as well. She’s been inducted into Halls of Fame by both MIGCA and the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association (MHSIBCA).

“I have always believed in participation. On all the teams I have coached, everyone plays – no one sits the bench. All my athletes have their opportunities to grow in the sport. I have always preached dedication and sportsmanship. The athletes practice well to perform well. They encourage teammates as well as competitors. I enjoy interaction with other coaches. We share coaching techniques and ideas for improving team performance.”

Milton “Butch” Briggs has led the East Grand Rapids girls swimming & diving team to a record 26 MHSAA Finals team championships, the first in 1978 and including six straight from 1981-86 and the program’s current three-year title streak. His girls program also has celebrated 105 individual or relay Finals champions and clinched 33 league team titles. Briggs has received several coaching awards, including nationally for his sport (girls and boys combined) from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) in 2000 and the NFHS Coaches Association for boys swimming & diving in 2011. He entered this past fall season with a dual meet record of 522-65-1 over his career, which has spanned 49 years total, and his boys teams have won 12 MHSAA Finals. Briggs also has served as an assistant track coach at multiple schools and as MISCA president, and is in the MHSCA Hall of Fame.

“My coaching philosophy has been, and continues to be, a work in progress. I have formed relationships with hundreds of amazing young people. They have taught me life lessons in real time and real situations. As a neophyte coach, the experience revolved around winning. We worked together as a team, supported each other in and out of the pool, and won often. Thankfully, I became aware of the value within each athlete. Today, I attempt to interact with each athlete at every team activity and follow their progress in non-swimming endeavors. In short, when I removed my ego from the team's expectations and outcomes, the entire atmosphere was much more enjoyable and productive. And we are still capable of being successful. The Lord has put me in the right place at the right time.”

Six more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Stefanie Kerska was honored in boys swimming & diving after leading Ann Arbor Pioneer to its third-straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals title under her leadership, and Asa Kelly was recognized in boys track & field after leading Benzie Central to the LPD3 Finals championship. Mt. Morris volleyball coach James Pender was honored after leading his team to the Division 2 Quarterfinals in 2022, when he also eclipsed 1,000 career coaching wins in the sport, and Traverse City St. Francis’ Julie Duffing was awarded in cross country after leading her program to the 2022 LPD3 Finals championship, the program’s second under her leadership. Haslett/Williamston girls lacrosse coach Chad Pastor was honored after leading his team to the Division 2 Semifinals last spring, and Hartland competitive cheer coach Candace Fahr was recognized after leading her team to the MHSAA Finals for the fourth time in her six seasons guiding the program.

The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.