Ludwig's Dedication to High School Pitch Energizes Clarkston's Title Pursuit

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

September 15, 2022

CLARKSTON – It would be a bit much to say they have been full-scale recruiting pitches for Clarkston senior Richie Ludwig, but let’s just say there have been strong nudges each time the high school soccer season has rolled around.

Greater DetroitBefore each season, Ludwig has gotten some minor overtures from coaches at various academies trying to lure him to their organizations and away from high school soccer. 

And these aren’t some low-key academies, as several are affiliated with Major League Soccer organizations. 

“I usually get a text or two and calls from a couple of different coaches,” he said.

The coaches essentially are saying, “Hey, if you happen to change your mind about that high school thing, you know where to reach us.”

Each time, Ludwig has essentially responded saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” 

You certainly can’t blame the academies for trying. 

A wondrously skilled and fast player, Ludwig should be on the short list of Mr. Soccer Award candidates this year, if not the favorite. 

Entering Tuesday he had 13 goals and nine assists already this season, and he’ll play next for Michigan State. 

But the fact he’s in the midst of his fourth year of high school soccer is news in itself, given his talents. 

Besides just loving high school soccer and playing with his friends, there are two other reasons why Ludwig has shunned prominent academies.

One, he plays on a club team, Nationals Soccer Union based out of Shelby Township — where one of the coaches is his dad, Rich — that has traveled the country to tournaments and events.

“Really, I’ve gotten all the scouting and recruitment needed at my club nationals,” Ludwig said.

Second, Clarkston plays in what annually is one of the state’s best leagues, the Oakland Activities Association Red, where nightly there are games against other prominent club standouts, future college players and state-ranked teams. 

It’s not like he’s missing out on developmental opportunities in high school.

“What I get out of high school is a good social environment while also getting to compete with a couple of my buddies,” Ludwig said. “Even though it may not be at a level as high as a club team is playing at, I can still push myself to be able to play at the standards I want to play at the next level.” 

Ludwig primarily plays as an attacking midfielder or a center forward, and while he is a natural goal scorer, Clarkston head coach Ian Jones said he’s a creator wherever he is on the field. 

Even if he is assigned to be in the middle of the field, Ludwig will go wide to create numerous scoring opportunities. 

“He almost creates more opportunities by not being involved,” Jones said. “He finds spaces. He creates space for other people, so his understanding of how to create space not just for himself, but other people, is the biggest improvement I’ve seen. He just has a knack of seeing things before they evolve.” 

Ludwig said he has worn a Spartans jersey “ever since I came out of the womb.”

“I’ve always wanted to go there,” he added.

Before that though, he hopes to leave high school by making history for Clarkston.

This year marks 15 years since the best team in Clarkston history made a run to its only MHSAA Finals in 2007, where the Wolves lost in the Division 1 championship match to East Kentwood.

Ludwig said he and other players have turned into historians a bit this year, studying up on that team and hoping to go one step farther so they can lay claim to being the best in school history.

“Our coaches have talked to us about some of those things they did,” Ludwig said. “The little things off of the field even. They have just told us the little things we need to pick up on to make that run.”

If a run at a Finals title doesn’t happen, Ludwig won’t have any regrets about sticking with high school for all four years given the memories he’s made and what he’s accomplished.

But if the Wolves do contend, it’ll make turning down those small overtures from academies worth celebrating more than all the goals he has scored combined.

“He’s a pretty loyal boy,” Jones said. "I think he has the ambition to do something in high school that hasn’t been done before.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS Clarkston’s Richie Ludwig (10), an all-state Dream Team selection last season, is a likely contender for the Mr. Soccer Award this fall. (Photos courtesy of Richie Ludwig.)

Be the Referee: Soccer Offsides or Goal?

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 23, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Soccer Offsides or Goal? - Listen

Today we’re on the soccer field for another You Make the Call.

Team A has a throw-in near midfield. Team A’s No. 9 is clearly in an offside position when the throw-in comes directly to her. She collects the ball and kicks it past the keeper and into the goal. What’s the call?

Should the referee:

► Award an indirect free kick to Team B?

► Award a goal kick to Team B?

► Award a re-take of the throw-in to Team A?

► Award a goal to Team A?

If you said, "Award a goal to Team A" … you are correct, despite the goal-scorer being in a clear offsides position.

The soccer rulebook states that a player shall not be penalized for offsides if she receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. It’s a legal play – and counts as a goal.

Previous Editions:

May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO: An official raises his flag during this spring's Trenton/Pontiac Notre Dame Prep game. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)