Performance: Cadillac's Abby Divozzo

April 21, 2016

Abby Divozzo
Cadillac senior – Soccer

Divozzo was regarded last spring as a top goalkeeper in the northern Lower Peninsula after helping the Vikings to a Big North Conference title with 10 shutouts while giving up only 0.86 goals per game. But an incredible start this spring should put the entire state on notice. The third-year varsity starter has shutouts in all of her team’s first six games and blanked three opponents to lead Cadillac to the Holland Invitational championship Saturday and earn the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week.

The Vikings beat Holland Black River 2-0, tied Grand Rapids Northview 0-0 and then defeated Holland 2-0, and have increased their start this season to 4-0-2. Divozzo, who has signed to continue her career at Saginaw Valley State University, wasn’t tested much against Black River, but made a key save diving into the top right corner to stop a shot from the 18-yard line and preserve the tie against Northview.

Cadillac graduated only three seniors from last season’s team that finished 14-6-1, so the start this spring hasn’t come as too much of a surprise to the senior keeper. She also was a key contributor to Cadillac’s girls ski team that placed sixth at the MHSAA Division 2 Final this winter, finishing 20th in both the slalom and giant slalom to earn all-state second-team honors in that sport. She’s a strong student sporting a 3.53 grade-point average but is undecided on what she’ll study at SVSU, although she said she enjoys math and science classes and might consider something in the medical field.  

Coach Jen VanNoord said: “I feel so fortunate to have a player like Abby as my goalkeeper. Just knowing she's in net gives me the freedom and the confidence to play a high-pressure formation. She is intense and crazy and calm all at the same time. Abby has the ability to elevate her game when matches are tight … the tougher the match the better she plays. She's also my player that can make a stressed out teammate laugh and relax with her silly sense of humor. Abby is a powerful role model to the young players and a leader in our soccer community. Her confidence and continued growth as a goalkeeper have made an exceptional impact on me over the last three seasons."

Performance Point: “We have a lot of returning players, and we’ve all been playing with each other since we were 8-year-olds. We know how each other plays, know how to work together to keep other teams from scoring.”

Net minder: (I’m strong at) communication, making sure everyone knows what’s going on. I can see the whole field; they might not be able to see the whole thing. … I like that (keeper) is so different from any other position, and so important also. Most people think you’re the goalie, you just stand there. ... When you make a save, and everyone cheers, that’s pretty cool."

Refuse to lose: “I hate losing. I’m going to do anything to make sure that we don’t lose. Making sure people are dropping (into formation), making sure people aren’t left open, just making sure we don’t get scored on. In practice, I’m known as the silly one. But when it’s game time, a little switch goes on, and I’m serious.”

Goalkeeper’s goal: “I want to win a District. Our school hasn’t won a District in girls soccer ever, so obviously that’s the main goal. That would be pretty crazy, just my senior year to finally have that little extra part.”

SVSU, here I come: “The campus is awesome, the staff is awesome. I don’t really know what I want to do, and they’ve got any field of study that I’d want, so it’s a win-win – I get to play soccer and figure out what I want to do at the same place.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan 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 protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2015-16 honorees
March 30: Cassius Winston, Detroit U-D Jesuit boys basketball - Read
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Abby Divozzo (11) surveys the field during Cadillac's game Saturday against Grand Rapids Northview. (Middle) Divozzo launches the ball downfield. (Photos courtesy of Cadillac girls soccer program.)

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

July 11: High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb - Read
July 10: 
Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)