By Brian Spencer
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart's Sara Hansen helped her softball team this spring to its first MHSAA Semifinals appearance since 1994. That, in itself, was plenty to celebrate.
But she achieved some unforgettable individual accomplishments as well. Hansen tied a national record with 82 runs scored. (Click to see the national record book.) She set an MHSAA record with 100 hits. She'll carry a 56-game hitting streak -- going back to May, 2011 -- into her junior season next spring.
She's got a few other things on her mind first -- like setting her volleyball team this fall and running the point for the Irish's basketball team this winter.
We caught up with her as she finishes up a short summer before fall practice begins Aug. 8.
How long have you been playing softball?
I’ve played softball pretty much my whole life. I started playing tee ball when I was little and moved from level to level as I grew older.
Out of the three sports you play, which of them is your favorite?
I don’t necessarily have a favorite. To be honest, it all depends on the season that I am in. I play point guard in basketball; I’m a setter in volleyball and am shortstop in softball. All of them are fun while I’m in their respective seasons.
With all the success that you’ve had with softball, what is your next goal that you wish to achieve in that sport?
I really haven’t thought about it that much, to be honest. I didn’t expect to achieve as much as I did this year. It’s been a lot of fun and makes me excited for the upcoming year. I would definitely like to get back there (MHSAA Semifinals at Bailey Park) as well as win Districts.
Have you started looking at colleges? If so, which colleges look the best to you right now?
Not too much, being that I’ll only be a junior this upcoming year. I am just wanting to focus on what is immediate rather than the future, at this moment.
Do you want to continue to play softball in college?
Yeah, I’d love to play any sport in college. Due to the fact that I’m not sure what sport is my favorite, I don’t know which one I’d like to play the most. But I’d love to compete in something at the college level.
Who is your favorite professional athlete, and why?
I don’t really have any particular favorite, to be honest.
What has been the most helpful lesson you’ve learned in high school thus far?
I guess to just work hard, take extra time to work on your trade, and keep learning. By doing those things, you’ll improve more every year.
While both sides of the ball are important, what do you enjoy playing the most in softball -- offense or defense?
I like the offensive side of softball just a bit more. Both are a lot of fun, but I do like to hit.
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023