OXFORD, MICH. – Lake Orion High School biology teacher and girls’ swimming head coach Haley Kornburger was among five inductees into the Oxford Athletics Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at halftime of the Dragons’ gridiron victory over the host Wildcats on Friday, September 9.
A 2014 Oxford High School graduate, Kornburger is the most accomplished swimmer in program history, garnering All-Oakland Activities Association (OAA) honors all four years, three Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) All-State selections, and capturing a total of seven league championships during her time as a Wildcat.
At the time of her graduation, Kornburger held eight individual school records, three of which still stand to this day. Accomplished in the league meet during her junior year in the fall of 2012, her 24.41 time in the 50 freestyle is still an OAA Blue Division record.
Just as important as her records in the pool, Kornburger’s teammates voted her the squad’s MVP in each of her final three years of high school, a sign of the leadership skills she possesses that allowed her to quickly and seamlessly transition into high-level varsity coaching.
Generating an impressive 3.98 GPA, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oxford and accepted an athletic scholarship to continue her academic and athletic careers at Michigan State University in East Lansing and compete in the Big Ten Conference (B1G).
Swimming for Michigan State from 2014-18, Kornburger earned two Academic All-B1G nods and received the Morgan Piasecki Spartan of the Year Award as a senior, given annually to one male and female who best exemplify the values of the Michigan State swimming & diving program.
Completing her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 2019, she spent her final year in East Lansing as a graduate assistant, her first foray into coaching.
After a year of student teaching and assistant coaching at Troy Athens, who also resides in the OAA, Kornburger joined Lake Orion as a teacher and head coach in 2020, where she is now in her third season.
The September 9 ceremony marked the first inductees into the Oxford Athletics Hall of Fame since 2018, as the school elected to not induct any members in 2020 or 2021 due to some having concerns over the possible spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
While a variety of sports were represented by the five members inducted this year, Kornburger’s presence is particularly noteworthy as she is the first swimmer – male or female – to become a Wildcat Hall of Famer.
This type of trailblazing is fitting for Korburger’s Oxford career, as she was also the first female swimmer in Wildcat history to qualify for the MHSAA State Meet, do so as a freshman in 2010.
“When I found out, I was obviously thrilled because it’s showing all the hard work paying off,” Kornburger said of when she found out she made the cut and would become part of the Oxford Athletics roughly 55-member Hall of Fame.
“You hear about all these big names from the community that are getting in, people that are going to the NFL or going to golf in the Masters, so it was really cool to be grouped in with some of those people and some of the best coaches that the school has ever had.”
Having the Hall of Fame induction ceremony during the Lake Orion at Oxford football game worked out about as perfectly as Kornburger could have hoped, giving both her hometown and her current school to see this special moment.
Life is rarely that simple, however, as Kornburger had a previous commitment – the wedding of her cousin – rendering her unable to attend the ceremony. Not to fear, though, as she is working with Oxford High School to schedule another time to recognize her induction, perhaps during the basketball game between the two schools this winter.
Longtime Wildcats swim coach Jackie Rank and one of her top assistants, Glen Walker, stood in for Kornburger during the halftime ceremony.
Still coaching the Wildcats to this day, Rank is also a teacher at Oxford High School and someone Kornburger stays in regular contact with, noting how it has been neat to see their relationship evolve from coach-student to peers and good friends over the last decade-plus.
“Jackie Rank is a big part of molding me into the person I am today, and she is also a Spartan herself, so she was very thrilled when I committed to MSU,” Kornburger said.
“She’s always kind of been there, and when I first started off, there weren’t a lot of people going to the State Meet, swimming was pretty brand new in Oxford at the time, so we were trying to kind of figure it all out together and she was very receptive of all the things I needed and also was willing to push me. Both her and Glen Walker were big parts of my swimming career.
“Jackie Rank is like a friend now. It’s so funny, when we went to Holland last year for the State Meet, we were staying in the same hotel room, we have completely become coaching friends now. So, it’s interesting going from athlete to fellow coach and that dynamic, she’s somebody that I could put up the phone and text and talk to.”
Kornburger’s Dragons and Rank’s Wildcats will square off in an OAA White Division showdown at Lake Orion on October 13 at 6 p.m.
Oxford will host MHSAA Regional No. 2, which the Dragons will compete in, beginning November 10.
The complete 2022 Oxford Athletics Hall of Fame Class (alphabetical order):
- Connor Bandel
- Sarah Courtright-Green
- Haley Kornburger
- Prescott Line
- Coach Gayle Tucker (posthumously)