Performance: Notre Dame's Danielle Staskowski

October 24, 2018

Danielle Staskowski
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep senior – Golf

The Fighting Irish ace capped her career Saturday at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East with her third Division 3 Finals individual championship – becoming just one of five Lower Peninsula girls to achieve that feat. She shot a two-day 152 and won a one-hole playoff to clinch the title, and led Notre Dame Prep to tie for fifth as a team in earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Staskowski has thrived in pressure situations. As a freshman, she won a playoff to claim the final individual qualifying spot from her Regional – and went on to take fourth at the Final. She missed most of her tennis season the following spring and then a summer of golf with a broken rib – but she came back in the fall and won her first MHSAA Finals also in a one-hole playoff while leading her team to a runner-up finish. She cleared the Finals field to win by eight strokes as a junior – shooting career-best rounds of 72 both days – in helping the Irish finish 13th.  Staskowski owns school records for low 9 (34) and 18-hole scores and 9 and 18-hole averages. This season she averaged 37.3 strokes for nine-hole matches and 77.7 for 18.

This fall’s success followed a highlight-filled summer that included a run to the Round of 8 match play at the Michigan Women’s Amateur in August. Staskowski finished runner-up at the Oakland County Invitational in September and won her Regional with a 75 on the way to shining again in East Lansing. On the same day she won her third title, friend Anika Dy from Traverse City West also won her third straight Division 1 championship as together they became the first to win three titles since another friend, Maple City Glen Lake’s Nichole Cox, won three straight in Division 4 from 2014-16. Staskowski is committed to continue her career next year at Central Michigan University. She carries a 3.4 grade-point average and is considering studying biomedical engineering.

Coach Kyle Lilek said: “Dani has been playing golf for about 15 years. She practices every day, has taken lessons from a variety of swing coaches, and even taken lessons from a mental coach. She has always worked hard at her game and dedicated herself to golf. However, at her freshman year tryout she stepped up to the tee, and due to nerves, duffed her tee shot; I always remember that story, because as talented as she is, she's still a teenage girl who deals with the same obstacles as anyone else ... and overcomes them all. … Dani thrives when presented with obstacles, and her high school golf career is proof of that fact. She has played and won three playoffs in the past four years. … This is what she does, and she thrives when presented with direct competition. It can seem overwhelming and super-human to achieve at Dani's level the way she does, but I never forget how human she is. … Dani is just a large heart with limbs. Her empathy, compassion, and friendship is what made her a leader and captain on the team, not her skill. She's the type of girl to console a frustrated teammate, even after winning a state title. I've always been proud of Dani; I've been proud of her skill, proud of her competitive spirit, but I've been most proud of her heart. She's a three-time state champion because of her fiercely competitive spirit, and because of her caring heart. I will miss her next year, but I'll always be proud of her, and I'll always have her back.”   

Performance Point: “After I made my putt on Saturday, and my team running onto the green, is always something I'm never going to forget. All the support from them, that's something that will always stick out. … What's funny about it actually is that I grew up golfing with Anika (Dy) and with Nichole Cox, so it's a crazy thing to think because we all did the same golf camp when we were younger. So me and my dad were laughing about it – we said, ‘I guess the camp works out pretty well.’ It's such an amazing thing to accomplish (three championships) with my best friends. We've been talking about it all week, and just bringing up old memories from camp and just stuff like that. It's been a pretty cool couple of days just getting to talk with (Anika) and experiencing this together.”

Mastering the mental game: “The biggest thing for me is treating everything the same. Whether it's a really big international tournament, or it's a regular tournament for high school, treating everything the same and never feeling like I have an advantage over anybody else and just going into it like everybody has a chance to win this. I work with Jason Novetsky, who is a really great mindset coach, and we work on stuff with that all the time – on trying to keep my mind in it, and focused, and not on the future and the outcome. I think that's been a big help for me. … Golf is so day to day. You just have to always remember that anybody can win it, anybody could have the round of their life, to always play every shot the best you can. I think that's what really just keeps me in the moment and helps me out.”

On to the next shot: “I’ve learned how to deal with things that don't go well on the course better now. I wouldn't say I used to panic when things went wrong on the course, but I've learned to really use the mindset that the next shot is so important. If you hit it into a pond or if you hit it into something where you weren't expected to hit it – the rough or in a bunker – you just play that shot, and then move on and try to birdie the next hole. Moving on from something that didn't go as planned is something I'm doing a lot better, and just remembering that it's a game.”

It’s always been golf:  “I've been playing golf my entire life. It's just always stayed that thing that I love, because I never let it turn into a chore. Every time I go out and play, it's fun. If I'm trying to beat myself, or if I'm trying to beat the course … it's just something that's always fun to me. I'm always happy to be out there playing, never felt like I have to go and practice, that I have to go do this. I think that keeping it fun for me has been why it's still my thing. I never go on a golf course and don't want to be there. With my mindset coach, another thing we talk about all the time is you don't have to go play golf; you get to play golf, which is something I keep in my head all the time. I've had the opportunity to go out and play golf all the time, and it's fun for me, and I'm going to take that opportunity and I'm going to keep it fun. Plus, I grew close to a lot of girls in the golf community, so usually when I'm at tournaments, it's with the people that I really like to be around and that have the same goals as me. It just keeps it really fun and light-hearted.”

More than a team: “My golf team is my family, and if they need anything any time, they know they can call me, they can come to me and I'll do anything in my power to support them and be a good captain. If they need swing advice and they want help with it, I'll help them out with it. Or if they need notes from a course that I have, I'll walk them through it or we'll go out and play a round together and I'll give them advice. Even outside of golf too; we're best friends on the golf course, and we're best friends in the hallway. That was a really big thing for me when I became one of the captains last year; we are a team, but I want us to also be a family. I just wanted to have a group of girls that could rely on each other even when we're not playing our sport, outside of school. … I wanted it to be a really friendly, family-like environment, and I think that's what happened this year, which was really exciting for me.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2018-19 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. 

Past 2018-19 honorees

October 18: Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4:
Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep's Danielle Staskowski fires a shot during Saturday's second round at Forest Akers East. (Middle) Staskowski follows one of her iron shots during Friday's first round. (Top photo by Jason Schmitt.) 

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1