Williamston Welcomes MHSAA Elite

April 19, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The Williamston girls soccer team regularly loads its schedule with some of the best competition it can find, both in the mid-Michigan area and beyond.

Many eyes. especially among the state’s best in Division 3, will be on the Hornets’ home stadium the next two weekends.

Williamston hosts Division 3 No. 2 Hudsonville Unity Christian at 6:15 Friday night in a rematch of the 2010 MHSAA Division 3 Final (update: they tied 1-1). On April 28, the Division 3 No. 3 Hornets will host their annual Williamston Shootout with a field including Division 2 No. 1 Plainwell, Division 3 No. 1 Flint Powers Catholic, No. 4 Detroit County Day, No. 6 Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and No. 9 Frankenmuth.

“I think there is a delicate balance between too difficult or too soft of a schedule. In my opinion, we play and coach at the level of our competition, and if we strive to be competitive at the highest level possible for our team we have to play a challenging schedule – one that demonstrates to our athletes what excellence is like physically, mentally, athletically and tactically,” Williamston coach Jim Flore said.

“This provides the ultimate learning environment, one that we cannot duplicate on the practice field. Playing this type of competition provides our student-athletes with the confidence that they can compete regardless if we win or lose.”

Tickets for Friday’s game cost $5, $3 for elementary students and are free for pre-schoolers and senior citizens. For the Shootout, tickets cost $5, but $3 for all students and, again, are free for pre-schoolers and senior citizens.

The April 28 Shootout schedule is as follows. Field 1 games will be played at the stadium which will be used for this season’s Division 2 and 3 MHSAA Finals:

9:15 a.m. – Detroit Country Day vs. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (Field 1)

11 a.m. – Williamston vs Frankenmuth (Field 1)

12:45 p.m. – Detroit Country Day vs. Flint Powers (Field 1)

12:45 p.m. – Frankenmuth vs. Plainwell (Field 2)

2:30 p.m. – Williamston vs. Plainwell (Field 1)

2:30 p.m. – Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard vs. Flint Powers (Field 2)

6 p.m. – 3rd-Place Game (Field 2)

6 p.m. – 5th-Place Game (Field 3)                   

6:30 p.m. – Championship Game (Field 1)

There also is a junior varsity Shootout the same day, with that field of teams the same except Eaton Rapids is in for Country Day.

Williamston opened this season with a 2-0 loss to Division 2 No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Marian. Since, the Hornets are 4-0-1 and beat Division 1 No. 2 Okemos 1-0.

“Playing high school soccer is not all about winning. It is about how to learn from the experience and make adjustments to be better in the future,” Flore said. “I believe this philosophy has helped the players over the years; I know it has helped me.”

PHOTO: Williamston, including now-senior Adrienne Watts (22), will face Hudsonville Unity Christian on Friday in a rematch of this 2010 Division 3 Final.

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

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

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 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.)