Unity Lead Scorer Raring to Return

September 20, 2019

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

HUDSONVILLE – Unity Christian soccer standout Kadin Shaban isn’t accustomed to standing on the sidelines and helplessly watching his teammates compete.

Unfortunately, that’s Shaban’s current role after suffering an ankle injury two weeks ago during a game against Zeeland West.

“It’s hard to watch,” Shaban admitted. “I’ve kind of been losing my mind watching.”

Shaban was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and has missed the last four games for the reigning Division 3 champion.

The top-ranked Crusaders have remained unbeaten (8-0-4) in his absence, but coach Randy Heethuis is looking forward to having his returning all-state Dream Team player back in the fold.

“It’s been a bummer, and we are a completely different team without him, but hopefully we can get him back very soon,” Heethuis said. “Hopefully when he is able to get back out there he can pick up where he left off, because he was having a tremendous season up until getting hurt.”

Shaban is Unity’s top goal scorer, and has been every year since arriving on the high school scene.

The 17-year-old scored 20 goals as a freshman and followed that up with 22 goals and 10 assists as a sophomore.

Last season, he notched 31 goals and 21 assists while helping spark Unity to a Division 3 title. He already had tallied 12 goals and nine assists this season.

Shaban’s penchant for finding the back of the net was apparent from the onset.

“When he came in as a freshman at our opening tryout, he very much made his presence known and showed he had a knack for scoring,” Heethuis said. “He is one of those kids who thoroughly loves soccer and he has continued to progress, continued to get better and continued to work on his game.”

Shaban’s four-year stint on the varsity has been rare in the school’s boys program, and his 85 career goals are the most in school history.

And while he has blossomed into a prolific goal scorer, Shaban said it didn’t begin that way.

“Actually, I started out as a defender on my first club team,” he said. “And I remember scoring my first ever goal in U-9 with my knee. I remember that to this day.

“I did not start out as a goal scorer, but then I ended up moving up through the positions and then by U-13 I was the goal scorer. I think it’s the best feeling there is to be able to score, and every game I want to try and score.”

Two of Shaban’s biggest tallies came last fall when he had a pair in a thrilling 3-1 overtime win over Grosse Ile in the Final. The title was Unity’s fifth.

“It was my third year of trying to get one and to finally get it was fun, especially doing it with all of my friends,” Shaban said.

Shaban has verbally committed to sign with Michigan State and will be one of only four or five players from Unity who will have gone on to play Division I soccer, according to Heethuis.

Shaban’s competitive nature has been compared to former Unity star Jared Timmer, who went on to play at Butler.

“Both of them are very competitive and love the game of soccer,” Heethuis said. “Two very special players, but yet different types of players on the field.

“Kadin is smaller than Jared was, but he’s got quick feet and he’s very shifty. He is a difference-maker on the field, and anytime he gets the ball he is a threat to score. The opposition, when he gets the ball, you hold your breath like, OK, what’s going to happen next?”

Shaban’s passion for soccer came from his father, Talal.

“He was born in Nigeria and grew up overseas,” Shaban said. “He was over there in Lebanon, and it’s a whole different sporting world because soccer has always been big there.

“When he came here he instilled that in me when I was young, and him and I just love the game and we watch it. The teams we follow are rivals so that makes it pretty interesting, and he’s coached me all the way through.”

Shaban hopes for a return to the field next week and is determined to help the Crusaders in their bid to end this season on a high note.

“We’ve had a couple shaky games in conference play, but we’re hoping to turn it around come tournament time and go all the way,” Shaban said. “That’s the dream, to go back-to-back.”

Dean Holzwarth covered primarily high school sports for the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years and more recently served as sports editor of the Ionia Sentinel and as a sports photojournalist for WZZM. Contact him at[email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Unity Christian’s Kadin Shaban stretches to push the ball into Grosse Ile’s net during last season’s Division 3 championship game win. (Middle) Shaban, after receiving his medal at last year’s Final.

Roy's Homecoming Success Continues for Division 1 Contender Clarkston

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

September 28, 2023

For Sebi Roy, there’s definitely been no place like home.

Greater DetroitJust as last season started, Roy moved back to his hometown of Clarkston to play high school soccer after spending roughly 1½ years training with Major League Soccer’s Cincinnati FC as part of the MLS Next program. 

Going from training with a professional organization to high school soccer might seem like a major downgrade to the average soccer follower, but it hasn’t been the case at all for Roy.

“It’s great to go from a super high skill ceiling where every touch matters, to something a little bit more free,” he said. “I know a lot more people and it’s a great way to get confidence. I didn’t get a whole lot of training in Cincy, and back here I get so much more individual training in general. Getting the touches and getting development was crucial.”

Ever since Roy came back to Clarkston last year, opponents have certainly wished he stayed in Cincinnati. 

It’s especially been the case this year, as Roy, a center forward, has been just about unstoppable. 

The 6-foot-3 Roy entered Thursday with 15 goals and five assists over 11 games despite being the constant focal point of opposing defenses and playing in arguably the state’s toughest league, the Oakland Activities Association Red.

Against 2022 Division 1 champion Rochester Adams, Roy scored five goals in a 7-3 win. 

Clarkston head coach Ian Jones said he hadn’t even met Roy before last year, then heard rumors from others on that team he was coming back in town.

Still, Roy showed up after tryouts had ended, so Jones had Roy go through a personal two-day tryout. 

It obviously didn’t take long for Jones to realize Roy was too good to not have on the team, and that was reinforced during the first game last year when he scored a goal on his first touch of the game. Roy went on to make the Division 1 all-state first team as Clarkston finished 16-5-2 and reached the Regional Finals.

Jones, who has professional experience playing in England and has coached for more than 20 years in the United States, said Roy definitely has the tools to be a professional player.

Clarkston's Sebi Roy monitors the action against Oxford.“I’ve never seen anything like him,” he said. “He’s got unbelievable touch. He’s left-footed and right-footed. He’s got vision and strength. It’s fun to watch him, forget coaching him. You find yourself watching him in games because he’s so good.”

Roy’s father is Travis Roy, who in 1991 won the state's Mr. Soccer Award playing for Livonia Stevenson before going on to play in college at Wisconsin.

Also on the Clarkston team this year is Roy’s brother, Fagan, who is a freshman. 

Sebi Roy said his dad started him in soccer “as soon as he could walk,” and he has loved it so much that he hasn’t dabbled in any other sport.

Despite already getting a small taste of what professional soccer would be like, Roy said he prefers to play in college and is still in the process of determining the best spot. 

Asked if there’s any top professional player he likes to emulate, the answer was a hard no.

“I want to be my own person,” he said.

Thanks to Roy’s production and a core of other talented players who could be playing at the next level, Clarkston earlier this month achieved a program first – the No. 1 ranking in Division 1. 

Clarkston (9-1-1) is down to No. 4 this week after losing its first game last Thursday, a 2-1 decision at now-No. 2 Oxford.

There could soon be a rematch, as Clarkston and Oxford are in the same District in the upcoming Division 1 tournament. 

If the teams meet again, Oxford will know the main player to stop – and Clarkston will know the main player to ride as it pursues what would be a first state title in boys soccer. (The Wolves were Division 1 runners-up in 2007).

“He’s the most dangerous player we’ve seen by far,” Oxford coach Adam Bican said. “His size, his athleticism, and his IQ is off the chart. He’s so dangerous, and he has one of the better shots I’ve seen. He’s a pure finisher.”

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 by Keith Dunlap.)