Performance: South Lyon's Josh Mason

September 27, 2019

Josh Mason
South Lyon sophomore – Soccer

Mason scored his first and second goals of the season to help South Lyon to a 2-2 draw with Walled Lake Western on Sept. 19 that clinched the Lakes Valley Conference regular-season title for the Lions – their first league championship since 2007 – and earned Mason the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.”

South Lyon graduated a number of contributors from the team that finished 9-7-3 and fifth in the league last season, but Mason – a rare sophomore team captain – has been a major part of the rebound and continued ascension. The Lions are 9-1-5, their only loss to Birmingham Seaholm when Mason wasn’t able to play. South Lyon gave up four goals that game; otherwise they’ve allowed just eight over 14 games with Mason manning the center back position.

Mason also is a standout swimmer; he was part of league champions in the 200-yard medley and 400 freestyle relays last season. He also carries a 3.97 grade-point average and has interests in math and science, although obviously he has a lot of time to consider what he might study after high school – and a lot to still accomplish for the Lions over the next three years.

Coach Brian Elliott said:His two goals came at the most perfect time when we were playing Walled Lake Western for the conference championship. He's a great soccer player, but obviously a great leader as well. In 14 years of coaching boys and girls soccer teams, I've only selected sophomores as captains twice. … Josh is the perfect blend of composure and aggression. He's tenacious when defending, but extremely composed when on the ball offensively. The only game we've lost was the one Josh wasn't present for. I'm very excited for what the rest of high school holds for Josh and can't wait to see where he plays after high school as well.” 

Performance Point: “After the second goal, being able to celebrate with all of my teammates, it was super cool to experience it,” Mason said. “I was feeling really good before the game, I wasn’t going to lose, so (my scoring surge) just kinda happened. The one (goal) was a chain and the other was a corner – I just went up for it, I saw it coming, and I wasn’t going to miss this one. I felt like I hadn’t been doing my job on the corners all year. I felt like I needed to score this one. … We have a bunch of really good seniors – they’re super good guys – and it’s cool to win the league for them their senior year.”

Captain’s log: “You see all the JV kids and all the freshman kids looking up to you. That’s a really cool spot to be in. I have really cool senior captains to learn from who I want to model my next two years of being a captain after because it’s really going to help the team to be able to do that three years in a row. … Our team has jelled pretty good, and everyone listens to everyone. Everyone gets to speak, and everyone’s ideas matter." 

D-E-F-E-N-S-E: “Communication – I step to the line and do a lot of work back there, but I think the other guys really respond when we talk to them and they step up. That game (I missed), we were just missing the communication piece and they couldn’t work together on the back line. I felt really bad missing that game.”

Pool pays off: “I overextended my knee my seventh grade season. I needed to stay in shape, but I couldn’t do running or anything (similar) because of the pounding, so I tried swimming. I kinda went out there and just tried it and ended up really good at it. I just kept going and ended up on the high school team. I don’t really love it during the season, but at the end of the season getting back on the soccer field, I’m in crazy good shape. I feel so good and I never get tired, so I love it then. But at 4 in the morning, I’m like, ‘Why am I putting myself through this?’”

Underdogs rising: “I like Man U. I like Everton too. I kinda like an underdog team. I feel like they are normally underdogs. They try to compete with the big teams every year. I respect them for that. … I think that is us. This is the third year in a row that we’ve drawn Brighton and (Detroit) CC in our District, and we are that little team trying to compete with the big teams that are consistently good. I think we are getting close to that. I think we’re getting a lot better – just from last year, I see a lot of improvement on the team.”

– Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor


Past honorees

Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) South Lyon's Josh Mason moves the ball upfield during his team's win this week over White Lake Lakeland. (Middle) Mason (26) and his teammates wall off the goal. (Photos courtesy of the South Lyon Herald.)

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

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

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 tomspencer@chartermi.net 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.)