A local kid can make it to the international stage
Justin Meram is proving it
For years, I've been needled, in a good natured way, about my beliefs related to creating great players right here in Shelby Township. And though it did seem a little far fetched a few years ago, Justin Meram is proving me right
and I'm so glad that he is.
I've known Justin for a long time. His uncle and I were partners in a soccer club that preceded FC Nova. It was called the Metrostars and it was the forerunner by 10 years of the club you see today. Both my sons played in the club. In fact, my son Garrett was a member of the first team, the '87 group, which many to this day, hail as one of the top boys team to ever play soccer in the state of Michigan. At one time, it was ranked as the number one team in the country.
At the dome his uncle owned, Justin would hang around the weekends to play in any game that a team needed an extra player. I recall seeing him on the sidelines changing shirts or putting on a penny, eager to jump in a game, no matter what age group was playing. He was the kind of kid that never turned down extra playing time.
In high school, he made the varsity team as a freshman. In the picture above this article, that's him running next to my son Anthony after my son hit a game winning shot in overtime to beat a heavily favored Stoney Creek team in the high school playoffs. That was their senior year and it was only the following week that they were stymied by another great Metrostar player, Jeremy Clarke, the highly touted Ford keeper, who stoned them on numerous one on one shots.
What's odd is this. As great as Justin was, many of the college coaches thought he was too small to play. This forced him to move to Arizona to play for a Junior College. Once there, he put a little muscle on, the necessary muscle to make him one of the top JC players in the country. After his two year stint, he returned home to Michigan, only to be turned down once again by Michigan State University. Fortunately, a fledgling varsity program was needing help at Michigan so the coach there took a chance on Justin and the rest is history. He went on to lead the league in scoring and he led the team to glory by exceeding everyone's expectations. In his senior year, he played for the National Championship.
For Justin, that wasn't enough. He had more to prove. He took the giant leap and made the MLS, hooking up with the Columbus Crew. Again, at first, he was not a player of note but before long, his talent couldn't be denied. Soon he was scoring critical goals for the Crew and now his a mainstay with the team and the league. In fact, his team just played for the MLS Cup a few days ago. And though they came up short, Justin was a big part of their playoff run.
If you read the attached article, you'll also see that he's playing for the Iraqi National team. On account of that, he's able to play against all the top of the players in the world. The boy from Shelby Township is looking eye to eye with all the great soccer legends of the game.
Justin Meram was a boy who chased big dreams. Don't think for a second that you can't be just like him.
Florida soccer freshman Sarah Troccoli showing promise
Upon visiting Gainesville as a high school sophomore, Sarah Troccoli knew Florida’s soccer program was a perfect fit.On that day in February 2013, a young Troccoli looked at her dad, Dan Troccoli, and told him, "I want that." Evidently, assistant coach Alan Kirkup was of the same opinion, seeing the forward as an ideal fit in coach Becky Burleigh’s system. "We always look for people who influence the game somehow," Kirkup said of Florida’s scouting strategy. Recruited by Kirkup, who initially went to the 2012 Disney Showcase to look at another player on her club team — coincidentally named the Michigan Gators — Troccoli quickly caught his eye.
From walk-on to best in the Midwest, getting to this point wasn’t easy for Channell, who on top of the Player of the Year honors was the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year, he has also received invites to Major League Soccer (MLS) combines, one for the Columbus Crew, and the other from Real Salt Lake.
“Coming into college, I wasn’t a high recruit or anything like that,” Channell said. “I ended up working for my scholarship, so coming into college, I never could’ve imagined the opportunity to play as a pro or to win these awards. It’s kind of surreal right now.”
Three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) men's soccer student-athletes were named to the Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) Division II Men's Soccer All-America Teams. Saginaw Valley State's Tyler Channell led the group as a first team selection, while his teammate Jordan Kalk collected third team honors. Northwood's Keaton Levock received honorable mention recognition.
Oakland University has a new star rising in the Horizon
Former Gators FC keeper, Emily Zweng, is certainly making a name for herself in her freshman year debut at Oakland University. Back in October, Emily earned herself the title of Defensive Player of the Week while also entering the OU record books by earning the first goal assist by an Oakland keeper in their Division 1 era. She went on to finish the season at the top of the Horizon League standings, as well as earning a spot on theAll-Freshman Team. Emilys dedication to her playing landed her atop the Horizon Leagues stats for SAVES: #10, GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE: #1, SHUTOUTS: #1. Congratulations on an amazing first season; we can't wait to watch her grow in the years to come.
Say a prayer for Emma Watson - Waza FC mourns
the lose of a vibrant young girl
It's with a heavy heart this holiday season that we pass on this tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Watson family and our friends at Waza FC. Take time out of your day to cherish your family; you never know what tomorrow holds. Please say a prayer and if you wish visit Emma's GoFundMe page.
The Waza family mourns the loss of our Waza South Developmental youth player Emma Watson and our continued prayers go out for her mother, Sharon Watson, as she recovers from this tragic event.
From the Detroit free Press:
"Sharon Watson, 37, and her 7-year-old daughter Emma Watson Nowling were shot in the parking lot of the Taylor Sportsplex on Dec. 3, 2015. Emma had just finished training with her Waza FC South Developmental team. Emma died from injuries and her mother is in serious condition. A GoFundMe account has been set up for her funeral expenses."
A prayer vigil for Emma and Sharon Watson has now bee scheduled for this Thursday, December 10 at the Taylor Sportsplex from 7 to 8pm. Additional information can be found HERE.
We ask our families to remember to keep the family in your thoughts as they continue on in this difficult time.
Nova Player earns Soccer Player of the Year
On the season he tore up the stat sheet, scoring 22 goals and dishing out 26 assists in Richmond’s Blue Water Area Conference title-winning season. He was the nucleus of the team that also won its first district title since 2007, and for that he is the Times Herald Boys Soccer Player of the Year. The season ended with Grosse Ile knocking them off in the regional finals, but Matt is still no stranger to the field as he’s playing for two FC Nova travel teams throughout the winter.
It's no coincidence that so many Gator and Nova players are having unprecedented success in the collegiate ranks. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the universities reaping the rewards of having Gator or Nova players.
Before Nova players, Dalton Amez, Keaton Levock and Antonio Anselmi stepped on to the campus, Northwood University never even considered challenging for a conference championship in division II play. Now, on account of the stellar play of Amez and Levock, Northwood has jumped on to the nation stage, after winning the GLIAC League championship and back to back GLIAC tournament championships.
University of Florida
Sarah Troccoli jumped on to the national stage in her first game against the national champion and rival, Florida State. The legendary Gator player was not intimidated at all and proved she belonged by scoring the winning goal. Now, Sarah, along with her teammates, have won the SEC championship with a 2 to 1 victory over Texas A & M. The Florida team is one of the best teams in the county and must be considered one of the favorites to win the national championship.
Traditionally, the Gators are known for developing great technical field players but now, since All American goalkeeper, Chelsea Parise led GVSU to a string of national championships, the Gator/Nova club is becoming known as a clearinghouse for great keepers. Emily Zweng is part of that tradition and All tournament keeper was a huge part in the success of Oakland's championship run.
University of Detroit
And speaking of great keepers, no one epitomizes the strength of that position more than Nate Steinwascher. Nathan is the 2014 Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year and the Horizon League Defensive Player of the year. The standout finished the season with a league high 81.2 save percentage. Following in his brothers footsteps is midfielder sophomore Spencer Steinwascher who was named to the 2015 Radisson Invitational All-Tournament Team. Anxiously awaiting his chance to defend the Titans goal fulltime is sophomore, Robbie Beckwell. In 2014 during his time in the net, Robbie finished the season with a 0.41 goals against average and 92.9 save percentage in 220 minutes played
Western Michigan University
No college staff learned quicker than the Western Michigan coaches that to win at the highest level, you need to fortify your ranks with as many Gator layers as possible. With players like Aubrey Soudemire, Dianna Dedvukaj, Rachel Cheney, Kyle Nylen, Heather Picariello, Lacey A Zahn, Liz Abro, Irene Young, to newcomer like Maria Jaramillo, the Bronco's have enjoyed great success with 3 championships and two appearances in the NCAA tournament. It's no coincidence that this program has pushed itself up into an elite status by opening up a pipeline to Gator players.
Ferris State University
With a 14-5-1 record, FSU has turned their program around and is clearly on the precipice of greatness. Why? Just look at the roster. It has heavily armored itself with Gator greats. They have Amanda Mathey, Kate Kelly, Casey Shauman, Sabrina Austin, Hunter Dolan, Alexis Schodowski, Audrey Romine, to name the present layers. If the trend continues, look for a change of guard at the top of Division II play.
With the recruiting of Sophia Maccagnone, Shannon Mcdevitt, Addie Scharr, Jamison Midgely, and Maddie Toth, all players who were taught the Gator refinement of touch and technical play, the Butler Bulldogs have risen from obscurity to a Big East Championship and a ticket to the NCAA tourney. With the recent signing of the heralded striker, Ania Savage, from the Gators, Butler looks to capitalize on their success by adding a big ticket player to their ranks.
It's no coincidence that these players, along with so many more, are enjoying great success on the bigger stage.
Detroit Titan goalkeeper Nathan Steinwascher preserves 0-0 tie with sprawling overtime save
Congratulations Gators 02' Orange
The Gator motto perseveres once again as the girls successfully defend their State Cup Title for a third consecutive time. Fresh of the heels of a National Championship win, the Gator Nation put their talents to the test defeating Waza FC in a nail biting penalty kick shoot out.
Michigan teen excited to represent Haiti in U.S. match
Macomb Township — Scoring a goal against the United States women’s national soccer team is not some crazy far-out idea for 16-year-old Darline Radamaker. It could actually happen.
Radamaker was invited to play for Team Haiti during its two friendlies against the United States on Thursday at Ford Field (7 p.m. kickoff) and Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama.
She is a former Haitian orphan, adopted by American parents, who attends Utica Ford and plays for the top-ranked Michigan Gators Orange U-17 travel team based out of Macomb County.