Art Moody practices what he preaches.
His sermon often reiterates the common sports mantra of taking things one game at a time. So as he was about to finish off win No. 200 as girls soccer coach at Flint Powers Catholic last week, he saw it as it was, a regular-season victory against Flint Carman-Ainsworth.
“I didn’t have any idea,” said Moody, who earned that 200th win May 17. “I didn’t think I would (get to 200) this year. I kind of have a motto and we’ve been going by it for quite a while with the girls, and that’s to make sure they take it one game at a time, and I think that’s kind of how I went, too. We make sure to look at one game, and when the next games comes, if we learn from the game we just had, we can bring it to the next game and we’re going to be successful.”
Success has been a common theme during Moody’s 11-year run at Powers, as he’s compiled a 201-41-20 record in his 11 seasons, which includes a 16-1-3 mark this season for the reigning MHSAA Division 3 champions. The Chargers have won a pair of state titles under Moody (2011 and 2017) and have advanced to five Division 3 Finals.
“When we looked at this year coming up, the question everyone had on their mind was, ‘Can you repeat?’” Moody said. “We had the same thing happen when we won the state championship in 2011 and we came back in 2012 ranked No. 1. It’s kind of funny, because at that time, I got my 100th win, so it’s kind of ironic and history is almost repeating itself with my 200th win following a state championship year. We have little goals, and getting an amount of wins isn’t something I look at as a personal goal. It’s more of a team goal. So it was a surprise, but a good surprise.”
Moody is a New Jersey native who played collegiately at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He coached at Lapeer West High School before taking over the Saginaw Valley State University men’s program in 2006. He’s also coached the Powers boys, and at the club level.
“Definitely my highlight is with my girls at Powers,” he said.
Powers has averaged 18 wins per season since Moody took over in 2008, reaching 20 or more wins on five occasions. Never in Moody’s 11 seasons have the Chargers had a losing record.
The Chargers have won 10 District titles, eight conference titles and seven Regional titles. A run at an 11th District title begins Tuesday at home against Corunna.
Moody took over a successful program that had reached the Finals three times between 2000 and 2007, including the year prior to Moody coming on board. But he’s taken the Chargers to new heights, as the 2011 title was their first.
“(Former coach Tom Anagnost) had those girls getting very competitive, and he had that program kind of getting up there,” Moody said. “Tom definitely introduced Powers soccer into a successful program, so when I got it it was good timing, and I’ve continued his legacy.”
Assistant coach Jeff Tippett, who has been on Moody’s staff all 11 years, said Powers has played mostly attacking soccer under Moody, but that his formations and strategies can change based on personnel, which has made him so successful.
“It’s just Art’s coaching style; he’s got a great coaching style,” Tippett said. “He relies a lot on his assistants. Between myself and Mike Korhonen, he’s very inclusive of us in his gameplan and his coaching philosophy, and I think that helps a lot. Art’s just a good strategist, he can see the game really well, he can read the players really well, and he can put together a lot of things out of what he has to work with.”
Moody also has had plenty of talent to work with, as any successful high school coach would need. One former player, Ally Haran, went to Wake Forest University and was drafted by the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League this past January. She’s currently playing professionally in Iceland.
“Once in a while, we do get a couple very, very talented soccer players that can play at the next level, and it’s great to have them come out,” Moody said. “But we also get that other type, we get that great athlete who plays three sports, who plays basketball and then decides to play soccer. They’re not going to play college soccer, but we’re getting them to play at a high level and love the game. That’s more of a delight to me.”
Record-wise, this year’s team is one of Moody’s best, and while he wouldn’t flat out say it’s a team capable of repeating as Division 3 champion, he did say it’s capable of competing at a high level. The Chargers’ lone loss this season came against Grand Blanc, the No. 5 team in Division 1.
He said the team is playing with a target on its back, which is typical for Flint Powers teams in most every sport as the school’s history of athletic success is well known throughout the state. But for Moody’s soccer program, it’s become a little more pronounced, and he’s fine with that.
“They come in the first day of tryouts and that’s the first conversation we have is about expectations and how much heart and determination you have to have to get to that level,” Moody said. “Teams want us pretty bad, and they know if they can beat us, sometimes that’s a successful season for them. It’s something we’ve learned how to deal with. It’s definitely a challenge, and the girls have accepted it. It’s a double-edged sword, because that pressure is definitely something they do have to deal with. But it’s a good problem to have.”
Paul 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Flint Powers Catholic girls soccer coach Art Moody, far left, prepares to accept the Division 3 championship trophy last June. (Middle) Moody confers with one of his players during that title-clinching win over Freeland.
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.)