2018-02-01 / Sports

Holly Brown, St. Ignace Track Standout, To Be Inducted Into LaSalle Hall of Fame

By Kevin R. Hess


At left: Holly Brown Engle, a 1998 graduate of LaSalle High School, is being inducted into the LaSalle High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place Saturday, February 10, at Kewadin Shores Casino at 6:30 p.m. Brown was a standout star in track, and also played basketball, volleyball, and ran cross country. She earned an athletic scholarship to run track at Saginaw Valley State University. At left: Holly Brown Engle, a 1998 graduate of LaSalle High School, is being inducted into the LaSalle High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place Saturday, February 10, at Kewadin Shores Casino at 6:30 p.m. Brown was a standout star in track, and also played basketball, volleyball, and ran cross country. She earned an athletic scholarship to run track at Saginaw Valley State University. “I’m very flattered. There are some outstanding athletes in the Hall of Fame and it is truly an honor to be able to join them,” said Holly Brown Engle, a 1998 graduate of LaSalle High School, who is one of four individuals to be inducted into the 2018 class of the LaSalle High School Sports Hall of Fame. This is the 10th class to be inducted. The ceremony will take place the weekend of February 9 and 10 at Kewadin Shores Casino. Other inductees this year will be Lou Grondin, Aaron Litzner, Chuck Kingsbury, the 1980 volleyball team, and the 1998 girls track team.

Brown ran track and cross country and played basketball and volleyball, but she is most known and remembered for her athletic achievements on the track. She competed in the 300m hurdles, the 100-yard dash, multiple relays, and the long jump. She holds the school record for the 300m hurdles with a time of 47.69 seconds, the school and Upper Peninsula record for the long jump (17-feet, 5.5 inches), and is part of multiple relay team school records, as well. Brown, along with teammates Anna Pemble, Melanie Sheridan, and Richelle Robinson, hold the U.P. 400m relay record with a time of 51.8 seconds, set her freshman year in 1995. Brown, Sheridan, Robinson, and Marion Clement still hold the U.P. record in the 1600m relay, with a time of 4:09.9, set in 1996. Brown was a member of the 1998 girls track team that went undefeated and won the U.P. finals. She was an individual champion in long jump, and in the 1600m-relay team. That 1998 team is also part of the 2018 Hall of Fame class.

Brown earned a scholarship to run track at Saginaw Valley State University. She says running was something she’s always liked to do.

“I felt like I had a wild heart,” she said. “Running was always a part of me. Whenever I saw open fields, I just wanted to run.”

She said she was aggressive and that the track was the “perfect” place to channel that.

“Aggression worked a lot better for track than basketball,” she joked. “I was not the most graceful athlete, and running didn’t require grace.”

Brown grew up in an athletic family as the youngest of six children, and it all started with her father, Ken Brown. Mr. Brown played and coached football for LaSalle. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, and two of his football teams have also been inducted. Although her family was into sports, she said she never felt pressure to perform. She is appreciative of the support she received from her parents and said the desire to perform well and achieve came naturally.

“It was instilled in me that you only get one opportunity, so why not make the most of it,” she said.

Brown also credits her track coach, Lynwood Leightner, for encouraging her to perform to the best of her ability. She says Coach Leightner was always encouraging and expressed excitement when she competed. She also says that he expressed faith and trust in her and it helped her to be confident in her abilities.

“Track was such a nerve-wracking sport,” she said. “Coach Leightner had a calm voice that seemed to settle my nerves.”

Brown said she always felt supported by her coaches, teammates, and community members, and she appreciated how interested and supportive the community was, and she was somewhat surprised that so many cared about what was going on at the high school. After college, she returned to St. Ignace and coached junior high volleyball as well as assisted Trudy Olsen and Emily Fullerton with the high school track team. She says she tried to emulate Coach Leightner, who was an inspiration in the way he encouraged and showed confidence in her and her teammates.

More than her achievements, Brown says being a part of a team taught her many great life lessons.

“Team sports teach you a lot,” she said. “It’s more than wins and losses.”

Today, Brown serves as an outpatient therapist at Hiawatha Behavioral Health in St. Ignace. She is married to Eric Engle, and has two daughters, Stella, 4, and Scarlett, 2.

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