Holland Soccer – Senior
Penaloza, a four-year varsity starting forward, averaged more than a point per game during the Division 2 tournament to help Holland claim its first MHSAA Finals championship. He scored his final high school goal in the Dutch’s 3-0 win over East Lansing in Saturday’s championship match to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
An all-stater as a junior – when he scored 26 goals – Penaloza missed 10 games over five weeks this season after suffering a right knee sprain in his team’s first home game against rival Holland Christian. But his scoring touch was fully returned by playoff time. He ended the season with eight goals and nine assists, but with six goals and four of those assists over seven postseason games. Holland was one of three first-time champions at this year’s Finals, and has become known locally over the last few seasons for breaking team huddles with a “Los Dutch” shout – a unifying nod to the various ethnicities of its players. Penaloza – a fan of Real Madrid and Pumas of the Mexican league – moved to Holland from California in sixth grade and didn’t play soccer at his new school until friends got him to come out in eighth grade. He joined the high school varsity a year later as a freshman and four years later capped his career with 40 goals and 27 assists.
As part of his school work, Penaloza attends classes in auto body repair at the Careerline Tech Center in Holland. He had been focused on following that career path, but of late he’s begun considering as well studying entrepreneurship and playing soccer at the college level – with an eye on potentially starting a business after school is done. He said he enjoys hands-on work and being part of the before-and-after process of auto body repair – even as he excels in doing damage to opponents’ chances on the soccer field with his feet.
Coach Greg Ceithaml said: “Jose Penaloza is one of the hardest working players I know, making his success well-earned. He plays with great emotion, and his passion is contagious. I was very upset to see his season truncated by injury, but his persistence and dedication to return to the pitch were inspiring. I was very happy to see him contribute to the team's ultimate success in winning a state championship.”
Performance Point: “It was a feeling that I probably won’t ever be able to describe,” Penaloza said of his championship match goal. “I felt like as soon as I kicked it in it was just such a relief to our team. It gave us the confidence for the whole game. … I feel like once they see me going, that it gives them motivation. As soon as I score, it’s a feeling like, ‘He’s in this game. We’ve got to pick up ours and just do the best to keep that going.’ If I score, they feel like, ‘We’re doing really good. Let’s keep it up. We can do more.’”
Coming back strong: “Having such a great year last year gave me so much more motivation to keep going this year. I wanted to do as much as possible, make everything I could. And then getting hurt gave me a step back. I felt like everything was over at that point. (But) I took my injury really seriously. I did everything I had to … as soon as they gave me treatments and what to do, I did them. It was just more motivation to me to get back on the field and do what I do, what I love best.”
Seen from the sidelines: “Our reaction time, how we start the game, how we react after we or the other team scores. I was just seeing small points (watching while I was injured) where we can increase just by simply talking with our team – some small things we can do to get better. I witnessed it myself. I saw it through my teammates, so once I got back I was like, I can’t be doing what they’re doing. To have a change, you’ve got to be the change. … Almost daily, they were telling me like, ‘Hey, we need you back’ or ‘We wish you were back already. Why can’t you be back?’ So it was giving me motivation to come back. Once I got the news that I was playing, they were really excited about it.”
Great expectations fulfilled: “My class, eighth grade year, we went undefeated. We didn’t have every player we did our senior year, but we picked up some very talented players that helped us through it. When we were eighth graders and went undefeated, we were like, ‘We’re going to win state.’ Our junior year we made it to Regional Finals, so we were kinda expected to make it at least that far this year. And we all had it in mind that we’re not just going to make it this far to end where we did last year, so it gave us more motivation to keep going. The next thing we knew, we were in the state finals.”
Shout out to Los Dutch: “It was just something to get us going. The fact that for so many years, we just said ‘Dutch.’ And then we started saying we’re not just one race; we’re more than one. So when we say ‘Los Dutch,’ I feel like every time we said it, it just brought us together, that we acknowledge all the different races and yeah, we didn’t really care about it. It just brought us together even more. … (To my teammates:) We made it. We’re state champs.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2017-18 honorees:
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Holland's Jose Penaloza controls the ball in the midfield during Saturday's Division 2 Final. (Middle) Penaloza is introduced before the championship match.
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.
“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 email@example.com 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.)