2021 in review: Niles alum returning home to be AD the top story

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Editor’s note: Leader Publications has compiled a list of the top 10 sports stories this year. Here are stories five through one. The complete list will be in Saturday’s print editions.


NILES — After a year of ups and down in 2020, the past 12 months were a nice change of pace because things were more stable in the high school sports world — at least on the court. Off the court, there were a lot of changes at many of the six high schools in the Leader Publications coverage area.

Coaches resigned or retired, while others were hired. Two athletic directors retired after decades of service.

Here is a look at the top five stories of 2021 based on Google Analytics from leaderpub.com.

5. Busby named new Niles boys basketball coach

NILES — After three years as an assistant coach, Niles 2012 graduate Myles Busby was named the new Vikings boys basketball coach June 14, according to former Niles Athletic Director Jeff Upton.

Busby replaced Patrick Touhey, who resigned in March prior to the start of the state basketball tournament.

“Anyone who watched Myles coach the program over the past several years will realize what he brings to our program,” Upton said. “Myles is a man of character and builds team-first attitudes by leading and teaching life skills to our players. Myles took over our program last season, and our players responded with great effort under his leadership. Myles is a Viking, always has been a Viking, and we believe he is ready to lead our program.”

Busby played for former Niles Coach Todd Pawielski, and was also an assistant coach under him before remaining on staff when Touhey replaced Tyler Dendy in 2019. Busby helped the Vikings win the 2012 Class A District championship.

4. Buchanan native Hannah Roberts takes silver at Olympics

BUCHANAN — Fans from across Michiana filled the Buchanan Commons July 31 as they watched one of their own make history.

Hannah Roberts, 19, won the silver medal in BMX freestyle her first time competing in the Olympics.

Roberts has been competing in the World Championship since 2017 (while she was still in high school), and amassed two gold medals and one bronze medal.

Roberts was seeded No. 1 going into the finals in Tokyo, but was ultimately defeated by Charlotte Worthington, representing Great Britain, who went from last place to first place in the final run.

Roberts appeared to have injured her foot and did not finish the final round.

3. Niles hires hall of famer to coach football

NILES — Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Scot Shaw was hired June 23 to coach the Niles football program.

Shaw replaced Joe Sassano, who retired after the 2020 season, and Cody French, who was hired in March, but resigned to take another position in Indiana in April.

Shaw is a former Three Rivers football coach who led the Wildcats to the 2003 Division 4 state championship with a 24-6 victory over DeWitt. Shaw’s Three Rivers teams were perennial Wolverine Conference contenders throughout his 20-year career.

Niles joined the Wolverine Conference in the fall. The Vikings open the 2021 season hosting Sturgis Aug. 26.

“Sitting out last season was very frustrating for me,” Shaw said. “I realized I loved football, and I am a football coach. I am very excited to take over the Viking program and work to increase the football IQ of both the players and the staff. I am also very excited to see the success of our middle school football program and look forward to working with our coaches and players to bring success on the field for our community.”

2. Touhey resigns as Niles boys basketball coach

NILES — The Niles boys basketball team opened up the state tournament with an interim head coach following Patrick Touhey’s resignation March 23.

According to Niles Athletic Director Jeff Upton, Touhey, who took over the boys basketball program last season, submitted his resignation March 21. Touhey was originally suspended for the district tournament after an incident between him and a varsity player.

“Myles Busby is a Niles High School graduate and was a member of the 2012 district championship team, and also played collegiate basketball,” Upton said. “We have confidence that the great progress our program has made will continue under Mr. Busby’s leadership.”


1. Brawley returns home to be Niles AD

NILES — Niles graduate Matt Brawley was named to replace retiring Vikings Athletic Director Jeff Upton. He officially became the athletic director on July 1.

Brawley was ecstatic to be returning to Niles, as was Upton to have a former Viking take over the role of athletic director.

“I have been out of here since 2000, and I could not wait to get back,” Brawley said about returning to the city where he was born and raised. “Finally, the opportunity came where it was the right fit. I am very thankful to come back home.”