Wroubel Continues to Champion Athletics
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 20, 2016
Betty Wroubel still remembers the first pop fly she caught 57 years ago.
Perhaps fleeting for most, it was one of the earliest memorable moments that eventually led to a career stretching four decades and impacting thousands of high school athletes across our state.
Wroubel – one of Michigan’s winningest high school coaches in both volleyball and softball with more than 2,000 combined victories – also has served as an athletic director and in various other leadership positions since beginning her educational career in 1975. Her contributions to educational athletics over the last 40 years will be celebrated Sunday, Feb. 7, when she receives the MHSAA’s 29th Women In Sports Leadership Award during the WISL banquet at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West.
“When I look at all of those names (of past WISL winners), knowing what they meant to the advancement of girls sports in schools and the total sports culture, it boggles my mind that I can be mentioned in those,” Wroubel said. “I’m not so sure I belong in there. I’ve had great leaders; my high school teachers and coaches were great leaders. I know nothing more than to work hard to make things better, sometimes inch by inch, sometimes two inches forward and one back – and sometimes leaps forward.”
The honor, given annually by the MHSAA Representative Council, recognizes the achievements of women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics.
Wroubel, a 1971 graduate of Clawson High School, first returned to teach and coach at her alma mater, and currently serves as the athletic director, varsity volleyball and softball coach at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. She also continues to teach sports medicine and leadership classes at the school.
She’s served in the athletic department at Notre Dame Prep since the school opened in 1994 and also coached and served as athletic director at the former Pontiac and then Oakland Catholic high schools after her stint as a coach and teacher at Clawson. She’s third on the MHSAA coaching victories list for volleyball with a record of 1,306-290-122. In 2015, she became the 14th coach in MHSAA softball history to win at least 800 games and sits 12th on that career wins list with a record of 826-293-3.
Wroubel also has been a registered MHSAA official in both volleyball and softball since the 1975-76 school year and has held numerous leadership positions as part of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, her sports’ coaches associations and the Detroit Catholic High School League. She’s hosted numerous MHSAA Coaches Advancement Program sessions and mentored young officials as part of the MHSAA Legacy Program.
“Betty Wroubel has dedicated much of the last four decades to assisting student-athletes and is passionate about the mission of educational athletics,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “Education is her life’s work, and that remains clear in her emphasis on coaches training and desire to continue teaching students as well – both in the classroom and on the volleyball court and softball diamond. We’re pleased to honor her with the Women In Sports Leadership Award.”
Wroubel earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University and her master’s in classroom teaching from Michigan State University. She was a five-sport athlete at Clawson High School – participating in basketball, volleyball, track & field, tennis and softball – and went on to play volleyball, tennis and field hockey at CMU.
Among those who provided Wroubel early mentorship was Judy Hacker, a teacher and coach at Clawson from 1962-95 who died in 2011 and like Wroubel was a pioneer in girls athletics during their early growth in the 1970s and 80s. Wroubel also was impacted athletically by her parents Marshall and Lucille; Marshall was a recognized youth baseball coach in Clawson and with Lucille provided opportunities for Betty to compete during an era when they were only first starting to emerge.
During her early years coaching and teaching at Clawson, Wroubel also worked as an assistant athletic director at Pontiac Catholic. She then took over as fulltime athletic director there, leaving her alma mater, but continued to pass on those many lessons learned to another generation including her Pontiac Catholic volleyball coach at the time, Dianne Phillips – who has gone on to rank 11th on the MHSAA volleyball coaching wins list with 986 victories mostly over the last 17 seasons at Dearborn High.
“Betty has dedicated her expertise, time and energy to coaching hundreds of young women in more than just sport, but in life lessons as well,” Phillips said. “Betty’s leadership skills and grounded philosophies are a model to all who aspire to teach and coach. The positive impact Betty has made on the lives of so many young people can never be overestimated.”
Wroubel led teams to MHSAA championships in two decades; her Pontiac Catholic softball team won the Class C title in 1983, and her Notre Dame Prep volleyball teams won Class B titles in fall 2007 and 2013. In 2010, Notre Dame Prep dedicated its new athletic facility in her name: the Betty A. Wroubel Athletic Performance Center.
She is a member of various Halls of Fame – she’s been inducted by the Detroit Catholic League, Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association, Michigan High School Coaches Association, Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association and the Michigan chapter of the United States Specialty Sports Association. She received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2010 for her continuing service to high school athletics, with the WISL Award her second from the association.
Her administrative efforts were recognized twice by the Detroit Catholic League with its Tom Kelly Athletic Director of the Year Award in 1994 and 2007. Wroubel also was named National High School Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association in 2007 and state coach of the year by MIVCA for Class B in 2007, 2013 and 2014. She also was named Michigan High School Coaches Association Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2014.
Wroubel served on the Catholic League’s executive board and as an officer for more than 30 years and on a variety of MHSAA committees during her long tenure as an athletic director. She has served on boards for the statewide volleyball coaches association for more than 30 years and statewide softball coaches association for more than 25.
As would be expected by a coach with such success across multiple sports, Wroubel remains an ardent supporter of athletes playing as many as possible despite a recent shift toward specialization.
“By (coaching both), I hope it sends a nonverbal message that if I can coach, they can certainly play multiple sports,” Wroubel said. “That’s been the biggest change; kids are so specialized. The pressure is on us (coaches) to do more and more training. But during the school year, we don’t do anything; I don’t get out a softball. That tells them to go play basketball, ski, go cheer, go bowl.”
Wroubel also volunteers for her church and the American Red Cross, and with a local food bank and soup kitchen.
The first Women In Sports Leadership Award was presented in 1990.
1990 – Carol Seavoy, L’Anse
1991 – Diane Laffey, Harper Woods
1992 – Patricia Ashby, Scotts
1993 – Jo Lake, Grosse Pointe
1994 – Brenda Gatlin, Detroit
1995 – Jane Bennett, Ann Arbor
1996 – Cheryl Amos-Helmicki, Huntington Woods
1997 – Delores L. Elswick, Detroit
1998 – Karen S. Leinaar, Delton
1999 – Kathy McGee, Flint
2000 – Pat Richardson, Grass Lake
2001 – Suzanne Martin, East Lansing
2002 – Susan Barthold, Kentwood
2003 – Nancy Clark, Flint
2004 – Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, Grand Rapids
2005 – Barbara Redding, Capac
2006 – Melanie Miller, Lansing
2007 – Jan Sander, Warren Woods
2008 – Jane Bos, Grand Rapids
2009 – Gail Ganakas, Flint; Deb VanKuiken, Holly
2010 – Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2011 – Ellen Pugh, West Branch; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2012 – Janet Gillette, Comstock Park
2013 – Barbara Beckett, Traverse City
2014 – Teri Reyburn, DeWitt
2015 – Jean LaClair, Bronson
PHOTOS: (Top) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball coach Betty Wroubel, left, celebrates the 2013 Class B championship with her team. (Middle) Wroubel instructs her players during the Semifinal match that season.
Bedford Sophomore Powers Up with 23 Homers, Just Getting Started
By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com
June 7, 2023
TEMPERANCE – Here’s a warning for softball teams facing Temperance Bedford the next couple of seasons: Intentionally walking Aubrey Hensley only gives her more confidence.
The Kicking Mules sophomore just finished her season with 23 home runs in 39 games, shattering school and Monroe County records. She remembers the home runs from the season that ended in the Division 1 District Finals, but she also remembers the walks.
“Our first game of the season, my first at-bat, I didn’t even get a swing in,” Hensley said. “As a hitter, it plays with your mind, but it also gives you confidence. If I go to the plate and they aren’t even willing to pitch to me, that gives me even more confidence. The next time up, I’m really going to look for my pitch.”
Hensley saw plenty of pitches she liked this season. She hit just a tick below .500 (61 hits in 124 at-bats), with seven doubles, five triples and nearly two dozen homers. They were pretty much split between the newly renovated Kicking Mules field in Temperance and road games.
Her most memorable home run was at Ypsilanti Lincoln.
“I usually have pretty good games at their field,” she said. “This year I hit a home run and hit the building which is behind the fence. That was a good one. I liked that watching and hearing that one hit.”
Hensley grew up in Toledo and moved across the state line in fifth grade. By then she was already involved in northwest Ohio travel softball programs.
“Softball kind of came naturally for me,” she said. “I loved to go to the field with my mom (Amanda) or my brother or just hit off the tee. I just have a mentality that I’m a good hitter and I can do whatever I put my mind to.”
Prior to her freshman season, Mules coach Marla Gooding, a first-grade teacher at Bedford, sent Hensley into the weight room.
“I was not expecting to hit home runs going into my freshman season,” Hensley said. “I didn’t really know what to expect.
“When I was little, I wasn’t always a power hitter. I would hit a few doubles or triples and get into the ball some. I worked and put in time in the weight room, especially going into the freshman year. I think that really contributed to my home run hitting. Coach had us in the weight room during the season a little bit. It helps to develop your body to be a power hitter.”
With the power in place, Hensley began concentrating on swinging through the ball.
“I don’t expect to hit a home run every time, but I go up to the plate thinking it’s possible,” she said. “I’m swinging to get through the ball and just drive it somewhere. I’m not hitting for contact. If you just go up hitting for contact, you are swinging lighter, and if it doesn’t go far, you start doubting yourself. I just go up and swing to drive the ball.”
Countless hours hitting off the tee and facing batting practice pitchers helped her fine-tune her swing.
“I don’t like to get down on myself, because then it snowballs onto the field or another at-bat,” she said. “Short memory is one thing we really wanted to work on this year. I think I applied that more. It’s difficult sometimes if you aren’t getting the pitches that you want or aren’t producing. I just try to go up there with some swag and get the job done.”
Gooding called her a dream to coach.
“She’s a power-five softball player,” she said. “And the greatest kid ever. Seriously, a workhorse and team-first mentality.”
On the field, she is the Bedford catcher. She didn’t commit an error all season.
Hensley was a pitcher at a young age but loved the transition to behind the plate.
“When I got behind the plate, I loved it,” she said. “It’s like being a general out there controlling the whole field. I get to see everyone and everything. I put in a lot of work when I was little. I started with the basics and just advanced from there. I’m pretty dedicated to being the best I can behind the plate for my pitcher.”
Hensley will balance her summer of babysitting, playing basketball for the Mules in June and a busy summer travel softball season that will take her around Ohio, Kansas and Tennessee. She helped the Kicking Mules set a school record for wins with 23 and win a District title in basketball last winter.
Hensley isn’t the only Bedford softball player to show power this season. As a team, Bedford hit 51 home runs, including 12 by teammate Payton Pudlowski. That is one of the reasons Hensley isn’t simply intentionally walked time after time.
“We have some solid pieces behind her, and the two girls in front of her got on base all of the time,” Gooding said. “It was hard for other teams to do that.”
With 23 home runs this season, Hensley’s put her name among the top five all-time single seasons in state history. The record is 29 by Kali Heivilin from Three Rivers in 2021.
With 34 career home runs, she is almost in the top 25.
Hensley isn’t concerned about records right now, except for one thing. She wants to put up a number that, by the time she graduates, is out of this world.
As she tells it, “I want to push the record so far that no one can touch it by the time I’m done with my career at Bedford.”
She might already have.
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Bedford’s Aubrey Hensley prepares to drive a pitch this season. (Middle) Hensley steps to the plate against Monroe. (Photos by Christine Kwiatkowski.)