A ‘favorite son’ among 28 inductees welcomed into the CHSL Hall of Fame

Catholic High School League Director Vic Michaels (left) presents the Person of the Year award to John Wangler at the league’s Hall of Fame induction banquet. Wangler was recognized as “one of the most prominent, prayerful and supportive people in the league’s history.” (Photo courtesy of Visual Sport Network)

CLINTON TOWNSHIP  A “favorite son of the Catholic League was among 28 inductees welcomed into the CHSL Hall of Fame during its recent 46th Banquet. 

In his introduction of John Wangler as recipient of the league’s highest honor, the Person of the Year, Catholic High School League Director Vic Michaels saidThis favorite son of the Catholic League is currently one of  our most prominent, prayerful, and supportive people in our history.” 

The Hall of Fame selection committee had acknowledged Wangler in 1981 for his  outstanding athletic achievements aRoyal Oak Shrine High School and the University of Michigan. 

“John has done enough for Catholic League schools,” Michaels said, “to be included in Person of the Year discussions every year since 2009That was the year that John secured Adidas through his company, Top Cat Sales, to become the Catholic League’s biggest sponsor.” 

 Wangler said his life as a Catholic began with baptism at Visitation Parish in DetroitThe family moved to Royal Oak where he attended Shrine grade and high schools for 12 years. 

“That was where I learned about giving back, he said. 

He described Fr. Edward Prus (pastor at Shrine 1969-1987) as “a saint” for how he would ride around the neighborhood on a bicycle and hand out bread and stop to talk to the kids. 

When the gym needed glass backboards, his mother started a concession stand to raise the money for them. His dad was always helping out in the Dads Club. 

They were tremendous examples of giving back,” he said. 

He singled out his coaches – Don Sicko in basketball, Jim MacDougall in football, Lou Miramonte in track  (all in the Hall of Fame) – for their emphasis “that we would be good human beings and give back. Great mentors.  

The thing about the Catholic League to me, “Wangler said, “is that it’s always been about tradition and excellence and service and faith and combining all those in competition. 

He concluded: “I’ll always forever be a supporter of the Catholic League. It molded me and  made me who I am. I believe in the education and values  and life lessons that are taught in the Catholic League.   

“Thank God I can be a small part of the tradition of giving back.” 

About 300 persons attended the banquet Sept. 13 at the Fern Hill Country Club to celebrate both 2020 and 2021 inductees. The 2020 banquet had been cancelled due to pandemic concerns. 


Mary Laney, Dearborn Divine Child  Laney has coached basketball at Divine Child since 2004. Her record of 245-143 includes the 2012  CHSL girls title and the 2011 Class B state championship. She is one of only three women in Michigan to win a state championship as a player (1993 and 1994and as a coach – and the only woman to accomplish this at the same school.  

“I thank God for giving me a passion for the game and an opportunity to do what I love . . . in an environment that  I can live my faith and share with my  athletes, something that is more and more important each passing day,” Laney said. 

Lorrie Kusch, Detroit University of Detroit Jesuit – She coached skiing at Mercy for 18 years, then currently for 24 years at U-D Jesuit. “What a wonderful experience it’s been coaching teenagers.  One I will never forget when I was coaching at Mercy. It was a state regional meet. One of the girls came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I’m so nervous I don’t know if I can do it.’  I said, ‘Just relax. You’ll do fine. This isn’t the Olympics.’ She said, ‘Well, this is the closest I’ll ever get.’” 


Aaron Babicz, Novi Detroit Catholic Central  He has been athletic director at Catholic Central since 2008. During his tenure, the Shamrocks have won 28 state championships and 59 Catholic League titles.  

 “Iwe can continue to keep faith at the forefront and  kids and relationship-building and love at the forefront, then the league will continue to be the greatest league in the countrfor years to come. I feel this league sets the standard for the rest of the leagues in Michigan, Babicz said. 


James Briggs  Briggs currently officiates volleyball, football, basketball, baseball and softball.

“(Former CHSL director) Mr. Walt Bazylewicz, when I was 18, gave me a chance to work in the Catholic League. I’ve been doing it for 42 years. I am happy to be in the Catholic League, I went to school in the Catholic League (Redford St. Mary), and I enjoy everything about the Catholic League, Brigg said. 


Jackie Feldman  For 28 years, she has been the Special Events Director of the Prep Bowl that has allowed thousands of student-athletes and educators to be properly honored on the Catholic League’s biggest stage. She is the fifth member of her family to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The others were her late husband (Marian AD) Dave Feldman, her father Bernie Wouters, her uncle Hank Wouters, and her son Davis Feldman. 


Tommy Apap (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2017)  At Michigan State, he was voted the hockey teamOutstanding SeniorCurrently, he is playing for the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League, a Chicago Blackhawks affiliate.  

Caite Baron (Farmington Hills Mercy 2017)  Caite played soccer at Xavier as a freshman before transferring to Grand Valley State University where she helped the Lakers win its 14th straight GLIAC tournament title.  

Riley Blair (Dearborn Divine Child 2015) --  In four seasons at Ferris State, she averaged 13 points a game She currently is a nurse in the Grand Rapids area.  

Mike Danna (Warren DeLaSalle 2016)  As a defensive end, Danna was drafted  by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 and played in Super Bowl LV. He signed a three-year $3.295 million contract in 2021.  

DeMarco Dickerson (Detroit Loyola 2015 After two outstanding seasons at Siena Heights, he signed this summer to play in the Swedish Basketball League.  

Dillon Dixon (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2014) --  At Saginaw Valley Universityas a defensive back, he was named to the All-GLIAC honorable mention team.   

Davis Feldman (Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 2016)  At Eastern Michigan, he was named to the MAC all-conference teamThe righthander is pitching this fall for the Lexington Legends in the Atlantic League.  

Colleen Grombala (Bloomfield Hills Marian 2017)  At John Carroll,  she was the university’s first lacrosse player to be named All American. She received BS in Exercise Science in 2020 and Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2021.  

Conner Huggins (Livonia Ladywood 2016)  Playing soccer at Villanova, Conner appeared and started in all 74 games through her senior season. She was named to the 2019 All-Big East Tournament Team. 

Matthew Johnson (Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard 2016 Playing lacrosse at  Indianapolis University, scoring 75 goals and 57 assists in a 56-game careerhe was selected an All American honorable mention. He majored in nursing.  

Karl Kauffmann (Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 2016 At Michigan, he set a school record o130.2 innings pitched in a single season. Karl was selected in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies. Currentlyhe is pitching for the Hartford Yard Goats, a Rockies affiliate.  

Sammy Kleedtke (Farmington Hills Mercy 2017)  At Wisconsin playing soccer, she was named a second-team All-Big Ten defender. She is pursuing a degree in computer sciences and computer engineering.  

Gregory Leatherwood (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2016 A defensive tackle at Ferris Statehe was a member of the Bulldogs' 2018 and 2019 GLIAC Championships. Gregory anticipates completing a masters degree in spring 2022 and applying to dental school. 

Christopher Okoye (Novi Detroit Catholic Central 2014 330-pound defensive tackle at Ferris Stateifour years he helped the Bulldogs achieve a 45-7 overall recordHe was selected to Ferris States All Decade Football Team. 

 Gina Paterson (Macomb Lutheran North 2015) – A long-distance runner at Grand Valley State, Gina won All American recognition at 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000mShe plans to pursue a master’s degree in  physician assistant studies at Trine University. 

 Brandon Piwinski (Warren DeLaSalle 2015)  A high-jumper at Michigan, in his senior year, he cleared a career-best 7-feet-half-inch for the win at the Simmons-Harvey Big Ten InvitationalHe is currently studying chiropractic medicine.  

Brianne Rogers (Livonia Ladywood 2017 As a midfielder on the Ferris State soccer team, she has earned first team all-conference honors four times. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Ferris.  

Nathan Schoenle (AA Fr. Gabriel Richard 2016)  At Michigan, he was a walk-on wide receiver for the Wolverines, becoming a four-time letter winnerHe is enrolled in the Ross School of Business pursuing his degree in business administration with a minor in entrepreneurship.  

The Catholic League has done an incredible job introducing me to helping others and introducing me to Jesus. Making me a full person. It makes me think of a quote by Mother Teresa: ‘We are  called not to just be successful but to be faithful.’  I think as long as the Catholic League is creating people to be  both successful and faithful we creating leaders in our church and in the world and in our community,” Schoenle said. 

Alaina Skellett (Farmington Hills Mercy 2017 At Miami University, she broke her own school record in 200-yard backstroke with time of 1:56.21 and qualified for 2020 U.S. Olympic Time TrialShe is majoring in biology. 

Cassius Winston (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2016)  One of the most celebrated athletes in Catholic League history. Among honors he received at Michigan State: Big Ten Player of the YearAll-American and the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team. He is in his second season with the Washington Wizards of the NBA. 

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected]