BISMARCK, N.D. — Two Catholic League coaches were honored recently at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association annual conference.    

Leon Braisted III, golf coach at Bloomfield Hills Marian and Brother Rice, was selected as Golf Coach of the Year, and Betty Wroubel, volleyball coach at former CHSL member school Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, was selected as Volleyball Coach of the Year.

The NHSACA selections, made in cooperation with the Michigan High School Coaches Association, are based on the performance of the honorees’ programs over the years and/or their contribution to the sport, school and community.

Braisted manages ‘God’s golf teams’

“I was emotionally stunned,” Braisted said of his reaction when the announcement was made.

He’s coached the last three years at Marian and Brother Rice after 18 years at Birmingham Seaholm. Marian was a runner-up in the 2017 Division 2 final and fifth in 2018. Brother Rice finished seventh in Division 1 state finals the last two springs.

At Seaholm, Braisted won five Division 2 girls championships and a boys runner-up.

His coaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: no cut.

“Anyone who tries out for the team, whether they can play or not, I keep. You never know how much difference you can make in their lives,” he said. “It has happened that a freshman I keep becomes an important player on the team as a junior or senior.”

In his last year at Seaholm, Braisted had 54 players on the varsity and three JV squads.

“At Marian, I carried over 26 players,” he said. His 21-year average roster runs between 26 and 28 players.

“There is much one can learn from being a teammate and having the challenge of self-improvement, of making new friends,” Braisted said. “It’s great to hear from players when they come back and talk about the life lessons they’ve learned.”

Braisted attended Madison Heights Lamphere High School. It didn’t have golf teams. He learned the game well enough from his father and from attending golf camps to play for Wayne State University and be the team captain his senior year.

He caddied summers at the Birmingham Golf Club. His son, Leon IV, followed his father’s example for six years at Oakland Hills. He played for his father at Rice, graduated in 2018, and now is at Michigan State University as an Evans Scholar covering his tuition and housing for four years.

Braisted, 52, was inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame in 2015, just one of several honors he has received. His responses on these occasions never change: “I’m only as good as the players make me.”

He gives a huge dose of credit to his assistant coaches. “They’re really co-coaches,” Braisted says about David Sass at Brother Rice and Cathy Fritz at Marian.

If he had his druthers, God’s name would appear on the accolades that have come his way.

“I tell God, ‘These are your teams. I’m just the manager.’ I have been blessed with a passion for golf and for working with kids.”

Wroubel: ‘Strive to be what God created (you) to be'

Betty Wroubel has coached volleyball for 41 years, starting out at Clawson (14 years), Pontiac Catholic (3), and currently, in her 24th year at Notre Dame. Her record of 1,486-308-130 includes three state champions (2007, 2013, 2015), one runner-up, and nine regional titles.

“My responsibility has never been solely to teach my players to play and love the sport of volleyball,” Wroubel said at the time of her nomination for the national award.

“Rather (I encourage them) to pursue their passion for something they love and how to grow as young, strong females today — to prepare them to handle disappointment, failure, adversity and stress in a healthy manner and success with a humble heart.

“I try to teach and empower my players ... to work hard, be humble, grateful, forgive oneself, forgive others, and always strive to be what God created them to be.”

Wroubel, throughout her volleyball coaching career, has held leadership positions in national, state and local volleyball coaches associations.

She had been a member of the CHSL executive board for more than 25 years.

At Notre Dame Prep, Wroubel also serves as assistant principal, athletic director, softball coach, and co-chair of the health and physical education department.

“What is not seen in all of this,” Wroubel said, “are those who have made these accolades possible: the students and the athletes entrusted to my care as coach, teacher and mentor.”

Contact Don Horkey at