Two-Sporter Chavez Enjoys Double Success

February 8, 2021

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half 

CLINTON – Nathan Chavez took a job at a farm because he wanted to learn more about biology and chemistry. He developed a green thumb. 

He joined the Clinton soccer team and helped it to the program’s first District title. 

And Chavez was on the cross country team that this fall finished 10th at the MHSAA Finals.  

Whatever Chavez touches, he seems to turn to gold. 

“I don’t think I have a competitive nature,” Chavez said. “I just enjoy it.” 

As calm and collected as Chavez is, he seems to excel at everything he does. In the classroom he takes mainly AP classes and had an adjusted GPA of 4.3 as the first semester of his senior year concluded

He takes everything in stride. But don’t let that fool you, says his father, Clinton varsity boys basketball coach Jeremy Chavez. 

“He’s got a lot going on and works really hard,” Jeremy Chavez said. “I’m very proud of him.” 

Chavez lives in Tecumseh but started attending Clinton in the second grade. He started running cross country in high school and has been a steady performer for the team, which has been on the cusp of a big Finals finish the last couple of seasons. 

He placed just outside the top 10 at the Lenawee County Athletic Association meet and 17th at the Lenawee County meet. At Michigan International Speedway, Chavez finished 117th overall with a time of 17:39.14, which helped Clinton place in the top 10 in Lower Peninsula Division 3. 

“Our team has been developing for four years,” he said. “It was great to see it all come together.” 

Chavez never could decide which sport he liked better – cross country or soccer. Instead of choosing between the two, he decided to be a dual-sport athlete in the fall. The soccer team lost several seniors from a year ago, and Chavez was unsure what to expect. Clinton, however, won 10 matches and turned some heads with that first District championship. 

The District Final was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and two overtimes, but Clinton won it in a dramatic shootout, sending the team to the Regional for the first time. 

“It definitely went better than I expected from last year,” Chavez said. “We did really well this year, all season. We lost a ton of seniors, so I really didn’t know how it was going to go.” 

Chavez is grateful his parents – Jeremy and Leslie – allowed him to compete in both sports. 

“I have a great support system at home,” he said. “They are very supportive of me in whatever I do.” 

Dual-sport athletes typically have to choose which will have priority in the event of a conflict. Chavez said that was never an issue. 

“When it came to the more important events, it seems like I could always do both,” he said. “Every year that I did it, it went smoothly.” 

He’s glad he didn’t have to choose between the two. 

“I started out by running cross country, but over the years I ended up playing soccer. I don’t really have a favorite,” he said. “I just like both sports equally. I feel like I was able to show my talents at both.” 

Besides helping those two fall teams bring home hardware, Chavez was celebrated a bit on his own by earning academic all-state honors in both sports, which is no small fete. Not only was he practicing or participating in two sports every night and just about every Saturday, he also had to maintain his high GPA. 

“During the season it always seems more hectic,” he said. “I always try to get as much homework done in my free time at school. I always studied on the bus, and there were a few all-nighters too. … My teachers are all very understanding, especially during the season that I dual-sport. They understand. 

“When I’m in the moment, I don’t notice how much I really put into it.” 

While he won’t be playing a winter sport, Chavez is already gearing up for track season, which is just around the corner. He’ll try to help earn more hardware for a school district that has seen a ton of sports success in recent years. 

Chavez was recently accepted into the University of Michigan, something that has been a goal of his for some time. He’s pretty sure he wants to go into chemistry or biology, which is one of the reasons he began working at a Britton farm a few years ago. 

“I just enjoy everything,” he said. 

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Clinton’s Nathan Chavez charges through a stretch in a cross country race. (Middle) Chavez (5) runs down the ball during a soccer match this fall. (Photos courtesy of the Chavez family.

Storch Returns to Retirement After Elevating Alpena Teams From Cellar to Contenders

By Tom Spencer
Special for

December 16, 2022

It wasn’t long ago that Alpena boys and girls soccer opponents took their long bus rides to play the Wildcats expecting an easy win, and most likely by securing the victory by the eight-goal differential rule, commonly known as the “mercy rule.”

Worse yet, the Wildcats also had to take those trips across the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, as well as northern and southern journeys of two hours, dreading thoughts of experiencing yet another shortened game.

Those expectations started to change in 2011, when Tim Storch, arguably the most decorated coach in the history of Michigan high school soccer, took the reins of the Wildcats’ boys and girls programs.  

Storch made the move after retiring from Troy Athens as a teacher and coach of the Redhawks’ boys and girls soccer teams.

Slowly but surely, Alpena’s mercy losses disappeared – and wins over their Big North Conference opponents became reality. Under Storch, the Wildcats went from the cellar to challenging for titles.

But now, Storch is showing some mercy on the Big North – perhaps an early Christmas present. The conference schools won’t see him on sidelines any longer. He’s retiring – again.   

Storch is doing so after leading the Wildcats to wins over all conference opponents except Traverse City West. The Wildcats did get a tie this fall against the Titans, one of the BNC schools that regularly makes a deep postseason run, as Alpena stayed in the league title race most of the season.

“When I came to Alpena it was about trying to make the program relevant in the school, the community, the area, the BNC and northern Michigan,” Storch recalled. “We got to that point after some growing pains. 

“Early on we took our lumps, and we were mercied by everybody,” he continued. “By the end we were competitive with everybody.”

Storch, who started the Athens soccer programs from scratch in 1981, won eight Class A or Division 1 Finals titles with the Redhawks. He’s near the top of the lists of the winningest boys and girls soccer coaches in the state. The last of his 1,109 wins was a 3-1 victory over Bay City Western during this fall’s postseason.  

The Wildcats also beat conference opponent Cadillac in their District opener. They finished 14-6-3 on the season.   

Storch will be dearly missed in Northern Michigan, veteran Petoskey boys and girls coach Zach Jonker pointed out. Jonker’s Northmen picked up a victory over Alpena in the Division 2 District Final – also Storch’s last game. 

"Tim has had a legendary career as one of the most influential figures in Michigan high school soccer over the past 40 years while having an enormous impact on thousands of student-athletes,” Jonker said. “Over the past decade, Tim helped to dramatically raise the overall level of play in the Big North. 

Storch, holding the microphone, elevated the Wildcats’ girls and boys programs since taking over both in 2011. “He is one of fiercest competitors I have ever coached against, but he is also one of the most genuine and empathetic coaches I have ever encountered,” Jonker continued. “I feel fortunate to have been able to build a competitive relationship with him and call him a friend."

Storch’s last game with the Alpena girls also was a District Final, a 3-0 loss May 31 to West.

Storch is proud of what the Wildcats accomplished, noting logistics — unlike in southeastern Michigan — were a big challenge.

“We were an island,” Storch said. “We were big school in the middle of nowhere. 

“We couldn’t get together and have any kind of summer program with other communities because they didn’t have soccer, and if they had soccer they were at a Class D or C level that was way beneath what we were playing in the Big North.”

Storch’s tenure, which included six years serving as the Wildcats’ athletic director while coaching, drew accolades from his coaches and athletic directors. In addition to Jonker, Gaylord AD Christian Wilson, and West boys head coach and girls assistant coach Matt Griesinger gave high praise.

They are among those who will miss the successful coach.

“Tim leaves Alpena in better shape than when he arrived, and that is the true mark of a great coach and administrator,” Wilson said. “He has been an outstanding representative of Alpena High School, both as a soccer coach and as an athletic director. 

“Tim brought a level of stability and expertise and was well-thought of by players, coaches, and community members.”

Griesinger, who has led the Titans to considerable postseason success and upheld BNC dominance since taking over the West program eight seasons ago, was particularly impressed with Storch’s energy and passion for his players evident in every match.

“Tim is one of the most respected coaches in the state, and what he has done for the soccer communities in both Troy and Alpena is not just commendable, but also something that every high school coach should hope to emulate,” Griesinger stated. “Storch is a stand-up guy, and all of us other coaches in the BNC should consider ourselves lucky that our journeys in the sport overlapped.”

Storch is leaving Michigan high school sports as they face a shortage of referees and qualified coaches. He’s not certain of the exact reasons for it, but he points to time constraints and pressures faced on and off the field.

And, he knows the days of a teacher starting a career, coaching sports and sticking with it are long gone.

“My wife has always said I was a dinosaur,” Storch said with a chuckle. “Back in my day, even if you had family and kids, you still made time for coaching. 

“Coaching was part of my fiber — it kind of defined me.”

Storch is quick to point out “soccer coach” was just one of three hats he wore, along with history teacher and friend.

“I’m Mr. Storch to my students,” he recalls telling his student-athletes at Athens. “I’m Coach to my kids, and I am Tim to my friends.

“They are three different hats; I learned how to wear them and how to balance them.”

Storch looks back to all the friendships he’s made around the game of soccer – with former players, fellow coaches, and referees – with excitement for the future.  

He is also keeping in mind former players, referees and coaches who have passed on.

“It is kind of humbling when I think back all the years (to) coaches, referees and players I have interacted with,” he said. “We’re all here for a finite time. 

“We need to make the most of it and hopefully leave the place a better place when we leave.”

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Recently-retired Alpena soccer coach Tim Storch, left, talks things over with one of his players. (Middle) Storch, holding the microphone, elevated the Wildcats’ girls and boys programs since taking over both in 2011. (Photos courtesy of Therese Shaw.)