Performance: Holland's Jose Penaloza

November 9, 2017

Jose Penaloza
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. 

Working Together, with Neighbor's Help, Schoolcraft Teams Making Selves at 'Home'

By Pam Shebest
Special for

September 19, 2023

SCHOOLCRAFT — If it is a home game for the Schoolcraft football team, head over to Vicksburg.

Southwest CorridorIf it is soccer, go to Schoolcraft’s baseball field.

Things are a bit jumbled in the sports world for the Eagles this season.

With a new football field under construction and a new elementary school built on the site of the former practice fields, the two teams have been a bit displaced.

“Along with our football field, we had three practice fields that were utilized by a lot of our youth programs, Rocket football, youth soccer and our soccer and football programs,” Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin said. “It’s taken a lot of understanding and flexibility from our coaches, players and our community to make it work out, and it has.”

Meanwhile, all four Eagles home football games will be played at Vicksburg High School.

If Vicksburg is home on a Friday, then the Eagles will play Saturday, including their Homecoming game this Saturday against Galesburg-Augusta.

The Eagles won their only “home” game so far, 33-14 against Kalamazoo United, and take a 3-1 record into Saturday’s contest.

The soccer team gave up its field to the football team for practices and has been practicing and playing their matches in the outfield of the baseball stadium.

For the soccer team, “It’s kind of an upgrade,” Applin said. “The soccer field they traditionally play on, they don’t have a scoreboard, they don’t have a bathroom facility, so we’ve been able to use the (baseball) scoreboard, the PA system, open up the bathroom building.

Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. “The goal at some point is to give soccer a home, and we’re very, very excited about that.”

This year definitely has been challenging for the first-year AD, who credits Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy with being a tremendous help.

“Mike Roy has been nothing but accommodating to us,” Applin said. “He’s been super helpful to me stepping in and assuming this scenario.

“The communities are so close, it almost feels like home for us.”

Roy said Jeff Clark, former Schoolcraft AD, reached out once the bond was passed for the new stadium last year.

“We had to make small accommodations as did Schoolcraft to make the schedules work,” Roy said. “By moving (Schoolcraft’s) games to Saturday, Vicksburg had to work with our Rocket football organization to make sure games were completed” before the Eagles varsity games.

Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency said his team has been “rolling with the punches.

“These guys don’t care where it’s at; they just want to play football. We’re all taking care of each other. What a great place to be when everybody works together.”

When Jake Bailey heard the team would be playing at Vicksburg, “That got me excited,” the junior offensive tackle said. “They’ve got a really nice facility. I know the school will come out to support us no matter where we are, but it’s definitely different.

“Good thing we don’t play Vicksburg, although it would be fun because it would be both our home fields. The new facilities and being back at our home field at Roy Davis (Field next year) will be really fun.”

Vicksburg is Division 4, while Schoolcraft is Division 7.

Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey.The soccer team was “just being a team player” in giving up its own field for football practice, second-year head coach Jeremy Mutchler said.

“For the soccer team to be a team player and get behind the football team will help the community get behind the soccer team as well,” he added.

The biggest drawback is that part of the current field includes a piece of the baseball infield.

“The only odd thing is it is a smaller field, still regulation size, but smaller,” Mutchler said. “Part of the field is in the diamond, so we have to play in the dirt and it gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to throw it in or just play down the line.”

The move has cost the team a few home games.

“At the beginning of the year, we allowed schools, if they didn’t want to play here, we would go to their house,” Mutchler said. “We had to go to a few schools we would have played at home.”

Maintenance supervisor Eric McGehee was instrumental in preparing the field.

“He laid out exactly the parameters, so I was able to send that to all the ADs that were going to visit to give them an opportunity to decide whether that’s something they wanted to help us out for our home games,” Applin said. “A lot of schools were more than willing to come and play us to give our boys some home games. A couple wanted to be cautious and play on a more traditional surface, and we were able to make those arrangements as well.”

In only its second year as a varsity sport, the boys soccer team is still finding its identity, posting a 2-5 record so far.

Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job.“We’re a very young team,” Mutchler said. “All juniors and freshmen. This is the juniors' second regular season. It’s all been a learning phase with maturity and sportsmanship.”

Junior captain Jack Curtis said he was a bit “bummed out” when he heard the team would move to the baseball field.

“The first practice, I drove over to our practice field,” he said. “No one was there.

“I drove over to the high school and saw everyone practicing (at the baseball field). I didn’t think a soccer field could fit on a baseball field.”

Curtis said in spite of the temporary move, “I’m just glad we can have some home games this year on Schoolcraft soil.”

As for Applin, he spent much of his career coaching basketball at both the high school and college levels and most recently worked as a salesman for Zeigler. His wife, Meredith, is an assistant coach for Western Michigan University’s women’s basketball team.

Ferency is appreciative of the work Clark and Applin have done to make this season’s changes relatively seamless.

“I’d like to highlight how great our athletic department is,” he said. “It takes a lot of moving pieces and parts to move people around and have a space for everybody.

“I’m really proud of our athletic department and all our coaches and kids for just rolling with the punches.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s varsity boys soccer team, including Nyan Wonders (15), faces Comstock this season on its field in the outfield of the baseball stadium. (2) Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. (3) Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey. (4) Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Headshots and Applin photo by Pam Shebest.)