Golf has been a major part of Katy Nightwine’s past – and it could be a big part of her future.
But at the present time, there’s something more important to tend to that’s putting golf on the backburner.
Close to three decades after making history as a golfer at Ann Arbor Pioneer, much of Nightwine’s time and energy these days is as a stay-at-home mom raising her 2-year-old son Henry with her husband Bryan.
But even while doing that, it’s hard to get golf completely out of her mind, as she’s already trying to plant a seed with her son.
“He enjoys putting the ball on the tee,” Nightwine said. “We’re happy with that progress.”
If the little guy starts fully getting into the game, he’ll be hard-pressed to find a better mentor than his mother.
Nearly 30 years ago Nightwine, then Katy Loy, made history by becoming the first to win three straight MHSAA Girls Golf Finals individual titles in the highest classification/division when she claimed three consecutive crowns in Lower Peninsula Class A.
Nightwine said she grew up on a golf course in Dexter (now closed), which is where she learned the game and grew a passion for it.
“I liked going to golf more than I liked going to swim practice,” she said. “It became that thing I did with my dad after work. The weekends would be spent golfing, and that became my favorite place to be.”
Nightwine won the Class A title in 1993 as a sophomore, and then repeated as a junior in 1994.
She remembers going into her senior year with a lot of people talking about whether she could make it three in a row, but it didn’t put any more pressure on her than she’d already put on herself.
“If I didn’t get it then, that was going to be the blemish,” Nightwine said. “It had so much more meaning than it being the third time, but let’s cap it off and really give me something to remember.”
In her words, it “wasn’t looking so good,” for Nightwine on the front nine during the last round of the Final in 1995, but she turned it around on the back nine at Michigan State’s Forest Akers West to claim her third-straight title.
From there, Nightwine went on to the University of Michigan and was named Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten in 1996.
Due to a desire to play in warmer weather and more prestigious tournaments, Nightwine transferred after her freshman year to the University of Kentucky, where she finished out her collegiate career.
Nightwine turned professional after college and played in a futures tour, but a back injury ultimately led her to quit playing professionally.
She worked as a golf instructor here and there. But in 2008, Nightwine started focusing on what she said was her other passion: Baking.
She opened up a pastry shop in Ann Arbor and continued in that business for 10 years before her family decided in 2018 to sell the property where the bakery was located to a company that repurposed it.
Now, Nightwine is fully entrenched in the business of being a mom and raising her son, but is hoping for a golfing revival in the future.
When her son gets older, she’s thinking about getting back into golf instruction or doing something else in the industry.
If nothing else, she wants to at least get back to playing consistently again.
“To see where my swing is at and go from there,” she said.
Regardless of what the future holds in the sport, Nightwine will always own a piece of state golf history, something she cherishes to this day.
“I will always be involved with golf, especially if (my son) takes a liking to it,” she said. “I have such fond memories of people I met.”
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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Katy Loy watches a drive during the 1994 Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Final. At right, Loy, now Nightwine, with her husband Bryan. (Middle) Katy Nightwine takes a swing at the driving range. (Below) Katy and Bryan Nightwine. (1994 Finals photo courtesy of Ann Arbor News/MLive; current photos courtesy of Katy Nightwine.)
ADRIAN – Avery Sluss picked up a golf club for the first time her freshmen year at Adrian Lenawee Christian. Now she’s an all-state golfer.
Sluss started playing basketball because it was a way for her and her older brother, Gavin, to connect. She’s now the leading scorer on the Cougars basketball team a year after receiving all-state recognition.
Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She will return to the soccer field in the spring already with her college plans in place. She signed recently to play goalkeeper at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“I’ve learned so much from sports,” Avery said. “It teaches me a lot about life.”
Her coaches call her a self-motivated athlete, quiet leader and someone dedicated to her faith, her teammates, and academics. She is a 4.0 student and has played four years of varsity golf, basketball, and soccer. She’s earned all-state recognition in all three sports.
“She is very self-motivated,” said first-year Lenawee Christian girls basketball coach Emilie Beach. “She doesn’t miss workouts or practices. She pushes herself hard. She forces others to rise (around her).”
Sluss is in her fourth season on the Lenawee Christian varsity basketball team. This year her role changed from mostly a defensive specialist to scorer.
Beach said Avery hasn’t changed her positive attitude with the changes in her role on the team. She has a high basketball IQ, Beach said, which helps her on the court.
“It can be tough and frustrating, but she comes in with a great attitude each day and leads her teammates,” Beach said. “She is a quiet leader who leads by example. She is hardest on herself, and that’s where a lot of her motivation comes from.”
The Cougars have had great success on the basketball floor the last several years, and Sluss has been part of it. She’s played alongside all-staters and played at the Breslin Center. She started and played 20 minutes in last year’s Semifinal loss to Plymouth Christian Academy.
This season she’s averaging 14.5 points a game, with 16 3-pointers, and has scored at least 17 points four times.
“It’s very different, but I like the role I’m in now,” she said. “Now, it’s like you have to score. I’ve accepted it. I’m just trying my best to fulfill that role for my teammates.”
Sluss sat out the fall travel soccer season while she was recovering from a slight back injury. But she was able to hit the golf course. She shot a two-day total of 186 at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final, helping the Cougars finish second as a team. A year earlier Sluss shot an 89 and 87 and helped the Cougars finish fourth overall.
Not bad for someone who didn’t pick up a golf club until just a few years ago.
“Golf was new to me my freshman year,” she said. “Some of my friends said I should try it, so I did. I went to the range maybe one or two times before I started to play. I’ve loved it.”
As far as sports goes, soccer was her first love. She started playing at the age of 4 when a neighborhood dad gathered a few girls together and formed a team.
“We started playing in the back yard,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer ever since. My first travel team was when I was 7.”
Sluss first started thinking about playing college soccer when she was in kindergarten.
“I’ve always wanted to play soccer in college,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about that. I’ve spent so much time on the sport that it would be silly not to. I want it to pay off with college.”
She used to play multiple positions but turned to goalkeeper at the age of 12.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “There are a lot of little things. The mental part of being a goalkeeper is important.”
After being named to the coaches association all-state third team last year, Sluss is primed for a big season this spring, especially with her college choice behind her.
“It is a strong Christian college, which was important to me,” she said. “It’s a lot like Lenawee Christian. Everyone on the soccer team was great when I met them, and the girls are so nice.”
Sluss has become adept at mixing sports with academics and life.
“Balance is a big issue,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, especially doing two at a time.
“My whole family, my parents (David and Kristen), they always push me to be the best I can be. I owe them a lot. Even my little sister (Addie) pushes me to do my best.”
Avery’s family moved from Toledo to the Adrian area several years ago, and the two perfectly complement to each other.
“Lenawee Christian has been a great fit for me,” she said. “All of the people are awesome, and I have grown in my faith here.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Avery Sluss gathers up the ball while playing keeper for Lenawee Christian’s soccer team. (Middle) Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Below) Sluss plants a chip on the green. (Photos courtesy of the Lenawee Christian athletic department.)