Senior Season Setting Up as Brody's Best of Storied Grand Blanc Career

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

August 31, 2022

Grand Blanc’s Kate Brody entered her senior golf season a bit conflicted.

Bay & ThumbThe 2020 Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final champion knew her game was as good or better than it’s ever been, but she wasn’t happy with some recent results.

Then she shot a 62.

“I just was hitting every shot kind of right where I wanted to,” said Brody, who shot 10-under par at The Fortress in Frankenmuth on Aug. 25 during the Saginaw Valley League Preseason Tournament. “I wasn’t really thinking about much while I was playing. I’ve never played that well before. There was probably only one shot that I wasn’t happy with.”

The 62 was a personal best in tournament play for Brody, and could be the spark for the final year of an already illustrious high school career.

Brody has never finished outside the top four at an MHSAA Finals event, taking third as a freshman and fourth as a junior. She was named first-team all-state by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association after all of her first three high school seasons, and has committed to play golf at the University of Wisconsin when this school year is done.

But Brody wasn’t happy with how her summer season had panned out, and even on the day she shot 62, said she didn’t feel all that confident until she got to the first tee box.

Brody, here as a toddler, took to the game at a young age.“I didn’t have as good of a summer as I wanted to playing in tournaments around the state,” Brody said. “I wasn’t nervous going into my senior season, but I knew I was going to have to keep working hard to shoot the scores I wanted to. I feel like my game is definitely better than the last couple summers. I think I’ve gotten smarter on the golf course. I’ve definitely gotten better near the green with my chipping and putting, and I’m hitting it a lot farther, too.”

That leaves the main ingredient for Brody’s success in her own head – and she’s mastering that approach as well.

“My mental game has gotten a lot stronger,” she said. “I know that I’m going to have bad shots and a couple bad holes. I’ve tried really hard to keep it together and honestly forget about it and move on.”

All of that work has made this level of success possible for Brody, but she started with quite a foundation.

Brody’s parents, Jenn and Doug Brody, are the LPGA professional and head professional, respectively, at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. Jenn played at Michigan State and on the LPGA Tour, and was inducted this past summer into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Kate started playing at 4 years old, although she said there are pictures of her holding a club earlier than that. She didn’t start playing competitively, however, until she was 11.

“I don’t think my parents really wanted to push me into it,” she said. “I just really liked coming out to the golf course in the summer. It was just fun for me. I didn’t really take it super seriously until middle school. I also played travel soccer and basketball when I was little. Those were my main sports over golf until like seventh grade.”

Brody made golf her main game during junior high. Golf became Brody’s main focus right around the time Glen Bauer took over as coach of the Grand Blanc girls program. And he knew before she took a class at the high school that he had something special.

“I started coaching when Kate was in eighth grade, and I tried to get her on the varsity team when she was in eighth grade,” Bauer joked. “Some young players, you know right away if they have what it takes to be a great golfer and a great person. She just was so far advanced from pretty much everybody that’s been here as a freshman. A lot of that is DNA, but it’s also what she had worked on since she was 4½.”

While Brody grew up rooting for the Spartans, and had a coach who was pulling for her to wind up at Michigan, it was Wisconsin that got the jump on recruiting her and never fell back to the rest of the pack.

Badgers coach Todd Oehrlein was in contact with Brody the first day he was allowed by rule, and a visit to Madison in October of 2021 sealed the deal.

“I could tell that he and (assistant coach Kristen Simpson) really wanted me,” Brody said. “I wanted to go somewhere I felt wanted and felt like I would be valuable to the team. I really felt a good connection with my coaches at the start, and that was a big part in the decision. As soon as I stepped on campus, I really fell in love with it. It blew me away, everything about it. I didn’t have a lot of interest in visiting other places.”

Brody’s commitment came shortly after her junior season wrapped up, and she admitted the recruiting process had created excess pressure in the past.

Now, it’s one less thing to worry about as she tries to focus on the matches and tournaments immediately ahead while working toward the bigger goal of another Finals title.

“Those big goals are always in the back of my head,” she said. “I think it’s really necessary to have them to achieve what you want. But when I’m going to the next tournament, it’s not like I’m thinking about the state championship. I’m thinking about that round. When I’m off the course, I’m thinking of that bigger goal.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Blanc’s Kate Brody, here following through on a putt, has posted a tournament personal best 62 this season. (Middle and below) Brody, as a toddler and a few years older, took to the game at a young age and made it her main game during junior high. (Photos courtesy of the Brody family.)

3-Sport Standout Sluss Gives Lenawee Christian All-State Boost for Every Season

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

January 11, 2023

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.

Southeast & BorderSluss 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.

Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center.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.”

Sluss plants a chip on the green. 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 [email protected] 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.)