Simple Act Sets Example Nationwide

October 29, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

In many respects, Dansville junior Clay Soule is your average high schooler from a small town.

He plays sports all year long, and when he’s not playing basketball in the winter he’s definitely snowmobiling. He’s not sure at first when asked his favorite class, but zoo-bot – zoology and botany – was pretty interesting last year. Like a lot of high school football players, sometimes he loses focus and his coaches have to reel him in. Soule also isn’t a fan of chopping and unloading firewood, which is pretty typical too. 

And when his minute of fame came on a national television show generations know by name, Soule missed it. At 7 a.m. Sundays, he’s sleeping. 

“I’m just a normal kid, I guess, in Dansville,” Soule said Wednesday during a break from gym class.

Two weeks ago, at a break in play during his football game against Laingsburg, Soule shuffled across the line of scrimmage and tied the shoe of the Wolfpack’s Kevin Koenig, who was wearing gloves and having a hard time getting them off. 

Soule didn’t think it was a big deal.

He can’t believe how big a deal it’s become.

The video clip of Soule literally lending two hands has been viewed in its original YouTube post nearly 200,000 times, and after being picked up by multiple national media entities reportedly has been watched nearly 1 million times. 

Arguably the topper? Soule’s assist made ABC’s Good Morning America on Sunday.

“I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal, to be honest. I just tied a kid’s shoe,” Soule said. “I really didn’t think it would be going anywhere. I just thought, ‘Oh well, I tied a kid’s shoe.’ 

“I guess it’s a big deal because you don’t really see that, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal as it is right now. It should be something people should do, but a lot of people don’t do it. I guess it’s sportsmanship, helping another team out. (For me), it’s just a normal thing.”

More than a moment

The Aggies were leading 14-0 during the second quarter of an eventual 35-20 win over Laingsburg on Oct. 16. The Wolfpack were driving when Koenig, the quarterback, dropped down to tie his shoe. 

Koenig is towering for a small-school football player, at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds and a two-time MHSAA Division 4 wrestling champion. But there’s Soule, playing the defensive side of his atypical quarterback/defensive end combo, trotting over and kneeling down as he asked if Koenig wanted some help.

A couple Aggies know Koenig from wrestling, but Soule doesn’t wrestle. The only conversation Soule recalls was when he asked Koenig if he wanted a double-knot, and was told no. Aside from what might have been a puzzled look on Koenig’s part, that was that. Soule shuffled back across the line and could hear a blend of laughter and clapping from the crowd as play resumed.

But his simple act is being hailed as much more.

The shoe-tie started gaining attention the last week, when it was submitted to the Lansing State Journal for its Video of the Week contest. The State Journal is owned by the same company as USA Today, which picked up the video. Then Huffington Post did the same. Then 530 Project Productions, which films Dansville’s games and posted the original clip to YouTube (watch it below) was contacted by CBS Sports and Good Morning America. Their coverage led to an appearance on Fox Sports' national network. 

As of Tuesday, the video had been viewed in all 50 states and 173 counties, according to the 530 producers.

USA Today called Soule “a nice guy doing a nice thing for someone else.” From Huffington Post: “In an age where athlete celebrations and taunting are amusingly received as viral sensations, the reaction after the play almost supersedes the play itself.” 

“I’m not trying to make it a big deal. I’m just trying to let it go, let it run its own course,” Soule said.

But … 

“It’s pretty cool.” 

Above average

To be honest, Soule really isn’t an average high schooler.

He carries a 3.8 grade-point average, and a discussion from that zoo-bot class about the science of raising crops has him thinking already about studying in college something related to agriculture with the idea of becoming a farmer like his grandfather was when Soule was a kid. 

He plays three sports, and stands out. He joined the varsity for both baseball and basketball as a sophomore, and he quarterbacks an 8-1 football team that takes on Carson City-Crystal in a Division 7 District opener this weekend and can tie the program record for single-season wins with one more victory.

Football coach Mike Galbreath called Soule “an all-around good kid. The young man is a great leader, and he has led our team tremendously this season.”

“He’s clearly someone with excellent character,” athletic director Julie Odom added.

And humility. His school has 300 students, and Soule knows them all by name. Yes, he slept through the Good Morning America segment, so he caught up by watching later that day on Facebook. He read some of the comments that went with the story, but not all of them – he’s just not into social media that much, and not into being the center of attention.

His brother Garrett is an infielder at Saginaw Valley State University, and they talked about the shoe-tie a little. Mostly, Clay and his parents joke about it, in disbelief of how the video has taken off. “(My parents) expect it out of me. That’s the way me and my brother were raised – to help out people,” Soule said.

Classmates joked with him Monday, asking for help tying their shoes. A student from Concord – this week’s playoff opponent – direct messaged him on Twitter, asking if Soule was that guy from the video. Soule said, “Yeah, that was me,” and that was it. 

The whole thing is a little ironic; in preschool, Soule was afraid to tie the shoelaces on a practice shoe in front of his class. Clearly, he’s mastered the skill – and then, unintentionally, used it to set an example of sportsmanship for athletes all over the country.

“People should expect it out of other people. Maybe it happens but it never gets videotaped and made a big deal,” Soule said. “(But maybe) tying a shoe goes above and beyond what most people would do. 

“People would just wait for him to tie his shoe. But I just went over there and tied it for him. I didn’t really think twice about it. I just went over there and did it.”

Geoff Kimmerly joined the MHSAA as its Media & Content Coordinator in Sept. 2011 after 12 years as Prep Sports Editor of the Lansing State Journal. He has served as Editor of Second Half since its creation in Jan. 2012. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for the Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, Ionia, Clinton, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Isabella, Clare and Montcalm counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Dansville's Clay Soule kneels to tie Kevin Koenig's shoelace during a break against Laingsburg two weeks ago. (Middle) Dansville celebrates another victory from one of the best seasons in program history. (Photos courtesy of Dansville High School.)

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 12, 2024

Ubly finished a combined 27-1 over the last two seasons, following up a Division 8 runner-up run in 2022 with its first MHSAA Finals championship this past November. And the Bearcats stacked plenty of record book performances along the way.

Individually, senior Brett Mueller made the single-season extra point list again this past season with 76 in 81 tries, and he set the MHSAA career record with 220 extra points over 232 attempts, 40 games and three seasons. He has signed with Saginaw Valley State.

As a team, Ubly was added to the record book 13 times for achievements over the last two years, most notably in the rushing game. The Bearcats topped 5,200 total yards both seasons, and also made the rush yardage list twice including with a sixth-best 5,148 in 2022. Their 90 touchdowns in 2022 rank seventh all-time, and their 85 this past fall tied for 13th, and they tied the record with 10 rushing touchdowns in a 2022 win over Reese and set another record with 84 rushing touchdowns total that season.

See below for more recent record book additions in 11-player football, and click the heading to see the record book in full:

11-Player Football

Dundee’s Ben Miller has a pair of basketball record book entries, and he’s also been added in football for scoring seven touchdowns in his team’s 72-36 win over Erie Mason on Oct. 20, 2017. A senior that season, he ran for five scores and caught two touchdowns passes.

Nearly four decades later, Howard City Tri County’s Mike Wagoner has reached the record book for his work on defense in 1985. A junior that season, Wagoner returned three interceptions for touchdowns – 65, 55 and 35 yards – which would have been second on the list at the time and remains tied for third-most for one season.

Jaxon Lippert tops the list of 21 who have returned kickoffs 99 yards. Lippert, now a senior at Walled Lake Western, joined the list against Davison during his junior season.

A handful of records from Warren De La Salle Collegiate’s recent run of Ford Field teams and also one from decades ago were added. Jake Badalamenti was added three times for kickoff returns between 96-99 yards, one as a junior in 2016 and two as a senior the following fall, and Marty Wyzlic was added for his 95-yarder in 1976. Mason Muragin is the new leader for tackles for loss in a career with 71 over three seasons, and he also was added to the single-season list with 31 as a junior in 2021, as was Will Beasley for 38 as a junior in 2020. Wayne Wright was added for his 16 sacks over nine games as a senior in 1984, and Josh Cox was added for his 100-yard interception return as a senior in 2012. Muragin plays at Illinois, Beesley plays at Princeton, Cox played at Central Michigan, and Badalamenti played baseball at Wayne State.

Pinckney junior Nolan Carruthers caught 16 passes during a 13-7 loss to Jackson on Sept. 15, good to tie for ninth-most in one game and breaking the Livingston County record of 14 by Hartland’s Greg Matthyssen in 2007 – a listing that also was added.

Ethan Wissner did some major lifting, or rather carrying, during Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker’s 28-14 District Final win over Montrose in 2022. The then-senior ran 42 times to make the record book, for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continuing at Siena Heights.

Senior quarterback Andrew Schuster and junior receiver DeShaun Lanier formed a game-changing pass-catch combo this past season for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, with Schuster finishing his career with nine record book listings and Lanier totaling six with a season to play. Schuster most notably was added for 212 completions on 301 attempts for 2,766 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and 321 completions and 4,199 career yards over two years and 22 games. Lanier was added in part for 73 receptions for 1,132 yards and 15 TDs this fall. Junior kicker Juliano Haddad also earned impressive mentions with 10 field goals and 50 extra points – and he’ll carry a streak of 35 straight extra points into next fall. Schuster has committed to Grand Valley State.

Fulton’s Evan Barton has been added to the single-game touchdowns list after catching four scoring passes Sept. 8, 2017, against Potterville. He was a senior that season.

Saginaw Heritage’s Braylon Isom completed his career this past fall as arguably the most accomplished receiver in MHSAA history. His name is listed in the record book eight times, with career records of 3,837 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns over 34 games and four seasons, and with a single-season record 26 touchdowns this past fall over 12 games. His 91 career receptions rank fifth, and he’s also listed for 82 catches and 1,617 yards (seventh-most) as a senior and 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He will continue at Miami (Ohio).

Evart’s 24-8 run over the last three seasons has been its most successful of the MHSAA playoff era, and senior quarterback Preston Wallace has played an enormous part. He finished his 33-game career in the fall – he came up for one game as a freshman – on record book lists twice for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and on career lists for 662 attempts, 421 completions, 6,955 yards and 88 passing touchdowns over those 32 games and three seasons. The yardage ranks 15th all-time, and the touchdowns are tied for sixth-most for one career.  

The 2005 Midland Bullock Creek team was added for scoring 547 points over 12 games. The Lancers finished 11-1, their only loss in a Division 5 Regional Final.

PHOTO Ubly's Seth Maurer (30) carries the ball during the Division 8 championship win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in November.