By Dan Hardenbrook
Tom Izzo. Steve Marriucci. George “The Gipper” Gipp. They are legendary names in sports history.
Then there’s those such as Kevin Borseth, Jeff Bender, Chris Nance, and Deanna Sutton. Some of the greatest to ever play their respective games. All of them are members of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
For over a half century, the list of legends who have been honored and enshrined as the absolute elite has continued to grow into a who’s who of all time greats. And now you can add one more name to the list: Katie Hoy Batten.
The 1993 Newberry High School graduate is among the latest to be selected to the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame as part of the 51st Induction Class that will be enshrined on May 13, 2023 in a ceremony at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris.
Katie (Hoy) Batten is the daughter of Jim and Connie Hoy. She earned varsity letters in volleyball, basketball, track, and golf at NHS. She was an All Conference selection in both her junior and senior seasons in basketball and volleyball. A two-time All UP Basketball selection in basketball, she surpassed the 1,000 career point milestone in her time with the Lady Indians.
In her senior season, she averaged a staggering 25.4 points per game on 52% shooting and ripped down 13.1 rebounds per game. Those numbers earned her All State honors in Class C from the Associated Press.
Following her incredible prep career, she attended Lake Superior State University, where she teamed up with role model and fellow NHS grad and U.P. Sports Hall of Famer Chris Nance, who she credits with putting Newberry Girls Basketball on the map and being “one heck of a college teammate.”
With the Lady Lakers, Batten was a three-time Varsity letter winner who won the team’s Most Improved Player award in 1993 and 1994, and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1995. Katie also set single game and career 3 point records at LSSU that stood until 2000. In 2014, she was inducted in the Newberry High School Athletic Hall of Fame and was also a member of the 1989-1991 Girls Track and Field Teams that were inducted as a group.
“I want to thank my family first! Mom and Dad, Beth, Mike, Colleen, and Mary for all their support,” Batten says. “It’s a pretty lofty list to follow over the past 51 years of this Hall of Fame association. I don’t seem to begin to think I could hold a candle to names like those,” stated Batten. “But it does make it seem like it’s a great testament to never quitting, and even more, the hometown who raised you.”
She gives credit to those who always believed in her and helped her along the way, from the teachers to coaches to bus drivers to fans in the stands.
“I want to thank Coach Ken Haggart, for believing I could play the game at a higher level and committing so much time. Our other coaches Jim Mattson, Dave Dake, Karl Parker, Bruce Dake and
Jim Dzelak, who volunteered for the girls basketball program over the years. The Athletic Director Keith Alto. We can’t forget the self-dubbed ‘Coffin Dodgers’ who hung across the top railing, always in our corner: Karl Parker, Hack Hanson, Mert Starmer, Frank Waite, Dick Moulton, Duke Rubick and of course, the number one Newberry Sports Fan – Jim Depew, and close behind, Tom Rahilly and all the radio guys like Jay Maki and Hondo Depew.”
The experience was sometimes a grind, but the lessons learned on the journey made it well worth it for one of the greatest to ever grace the halls of Newberry High School. “College basketball was so hard. It was grueling,” she says. “Running lines at 2 a.m. right off the long travel bus because you messed up in a game. Getting screamed at, wondering if this is worth it? It makes you stronger and teaches perseverance and persistence. Sports provide unmatched life lessons, and I am most grateful for the people along the way. The coaches who believed in you, teammates who you are connected to for life through shared experience, and fans from our community who traveled all over to watch us play.”
She would have never made it without her family who always cheered her on and did whatever they could to help Katie follow her dreams. “I need to thank my folks, Jim and Connie, who somehow agreed to let me join an AAU basketball team out of Houghton Lake and drive 3 hours each way every Sunday to practice my junior year, then bring me to games in Detroit and Grand Rapids.”
A self described “lucky girl” who gets plenty of eye rolls from her four teenage kids and a Wisconsin cheesehead husband, Pat, when she relives her glory days—she will tell you that they don’t quite understand or appreciate what it means to be a Yooper!
Batten says that no matter what recognition she receives, or how many eye rolls she racks up, that her success will always be tied to where it all began.
“I didn’t start basketball until 7th grade, not counting Tom Brown and Mr. Dean coaching us for the Winter Olympics in 6th grade. But I couldn’t get enough once I realized I loved it,” Batten said. “I wouldn’t trade summer pick up games with the boys down at the playground for anything. The guys always let us play and—I hope—didn’t take it easy on us. So many kids would show up and play until dark. We can’t ever get that back, but the memories and small-town appreciation carry on.”
Batten is full of respect for her hometown.
“I think this is an award for Newberry, and I just appreciate the opportunity to represent us,” she said. “It really does take a village, and I am a lucky girl!”