2005 RGSO inducted into FHC Hall of Fame

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On May 12th, the FHC Hall of Fame celebrated its newest round of inductees. One of the teams privileged of being inducted into the Hall of Fame was the 2005 Girls Varsity Soccer Team. They are being inducted due to being the first girls’ soccer team in FHC history to win a state title. The soccer team consisted of 20 girls, with grades freshman all the way to seniors, and led by head coach Clark Udell along with the team captains, Kari (Klynstra) Reddin and Kacie (Klynstra) Sanders.

The Freshman Experience

On the team, there were only two freshman. One of the freshmen who had the joy of having the varsity experience was Meghan Gorsuch. Her experience on the team helped get to where she is today. It set her up for the following three years as a teammate and a leader in the Ranger Girls Soccer program.

“It was truly a blessing, it is hard to explain the impact the upperclassmen had on me,” Gorsuch said. “I loved every minute, I wouldn’t change a thing…. I am quite grateful for having the opportunity to have been apart of it all back then, and to reminisce about it now is very cool,” Gorsuch said.

The Induction Day

The news for induction was a surprise and an amazing experience. Everyone seems to be very excited for induction day. Gorsuch is honored by the invitation, stating how recognition is not necessary or expected, but is very much appreciated.

“[The induction] confirms a lot of feel goods…. I hope the potential of induction inspires future athletes to greatness,” Gorsuch said.

Along with Gorsuch, Kacie Sanders, one of the captains, is delighted for the opportunity of being inducted. She is proud to be one of the many legacies of the FHC soccer tradition.

“We were building on the successes of those who came before us, those who laid the foundation and expectations for us,” Sander said. “I had a great experience at FHC and felt well prepared for college, both academically and athletically. I am so thankful for the memories and the nomination and humbled by the recognition.”

The pride coming from Udell shines with the mention of the 2005 Girls Soccer team. 12 years later, they are still a perfect example of what FHC sports have to offer.

“It makes me very proud, I’ve been proud of that team for a long time; we won a state championship,” Udell said. “Just the resilience of that same core group living through those three years. [Leading up to the state championship, they] never took their eyes off the prize. The best thing is through some of those hard, incredibly disappointing endings, they didn’t let it get them down. It pretty much hardened them and made them more determined.”

Making the Team a Success

Winning states was the peak of the season. The bond that the girls created throughout the season showed how much they persevered throughout the course of the season.

Udell thought that a great bonding experience would be to play dodgeball instead of practice.

“It was a great non-soccer team experience, I think they probably appreciated just chucking balls at me,” Udell said. “We just hooted and hollered, and it was just what we needed to take some of the pressure off of the big games coming up. Sometimes you just have to step away from the game and do something kind of off the radar, and after that we just throttled teams. [After the first loss] we just had to recenter ourselves with fun and remember how to have fun. Then, it just brought us up to compete like crazy.”

Kelsey Turek, one of the teammates, believes that one of the of aspects the team had was talent, which helped them achieve the goal of becoming state champs.

“We had a lot of individually talented players who all had the same passion: playing together to win. Not to mention everyone worked hard,” Turek said.

Allie Hess agreed with Turke, reiterating that the team was indeed talented. But along with talented, they were also well rounded.

“We had incredibly strong, reliable players on every inch of the field,” Hess said. “Some of us played with each other or against each other on travel teams during the off-season, so many of us knew each other well.”

Where there was talent, there was also a competitive drive, driven by not only the team but the coaches as well.

“We were a highly competitive team and the chance to play for a state title on our home turf was an incredible motivator,” Sanders said. “And we had great coaches, all who brought different perspectives and strengths and prepared us well for the tourney run. Even better, they were great men, role models who cared about us as individuals more than just soccer players.”

Their drive to succeed showed in their games as well as their practices.

“Like anything else, practice makes perfect… when you study the game and work on muscle memory, you refine your understanding and application,” Gorsuch said. “Habits become second nature, and it allows you to be one step ahead of the competition. We would win, and we were consistent. This gave us a target on our back… which personally, is my favorite position to be in. Besides being great athletes, we all recognized the potential of the group very early on, and so it was easy to dedicate 110% to the person next to you, who was also doing the same thing. There was an unspoken understanding of competitive greatness that was set from the top down, and you were either in or out. This team was packed with the content of character, staff and players included. Every day I left feeling inspired to be both a better player and person.”

Memories Will Last Forever

The memory of winning that final game will forever be a treasure in each player’s hearts. They will always remember it for years to come in the Hall of Fame, as well as in their family. Their path leading up to that game will also be remembered for all the ups and downs.

“I won’t lie, that was a long time ago, and my memory isn’t crystal clear,” Turek said. “But winning that final game will always stick out.”

The pressure of seeing a past challenge and the satisfaction of overcoming that challenge was one of Hess’ brightest moments on the team.

“[One of] my highlights of the season was winning the state semi-final game,” Hess said. “It was the only team that we had lost to during the regular season that year, so it was a real challenge to come up against them again in the semis. It was rainy, it was hard-fought, it was a dead-even game, but we came out on top. And, it was probably one of the best games of my career, personally speaking. We ended up winning the state final game by a good margin– I think 4-0? So, in the end, it was really that semi-final game that was our greatest hurdle.”

The joy of being able to celebrate with the team, their peers, and family brought Sanders great joy. A more sentimental moment that stood out to her was seeing the gym where all the banners are held.

“I remember Clark taking our team to the gym, after our last practice, to show us where the banners are held,” Sanders said. “I don’t remember the exact words spoken, but he essentially asked us to envision the first ‘Girl’s Soccer State Champions’ banner among the others.”

For Gorsuch, the memory of how her team built her strength and confidence sticks out to her the most, reminding her that while she was a freshman starter, each game with her team helped her gain confidence that would help her in years to come.

“I fell in love with being better than I was the day before… my only comparison was me vs. me yesterday, but the support around me just helped me soar to new levels,” Gorsuch said. “I thought so highly of everyone around me. The possibility that they also thought highly of me was almost magical, and I just wanted to be the best I could for myself and for them. Team goal celebrations where it didn’t matter if you had the goal itself, or the assist, or you were on the bench… you could literally feel it all after a goal or a win. Still, to this day, I get goosebumps when I think about these moments. Just something in the air… Winning the state title was amazing. I didn’t even realize what I was getting myself into until I was there with that trophy and my girls. So blessed with these memories and accomplishments.”

A Team that Works Together, Wins Together

The team’s chemistry was not perfect, but it worked. There will never be a perfect gel of a team when there are 20 girls on the same team for a full season, but somehow these girls did exceptionally at getting along and working together.

“Everyone got along pretty darn well for, let’s be honest, all being girls and being in different grades,” Turek said. “I think wanting the best for each other and playing for each other is what helped us be as good of a team as we were. No one was overly selfish on or off the field.”

“I believe part of the strength of our team lay in the intangibles,” Sanders said. “We were close. We enjoyed hanging out together, whether at practice or outside of soccer. I felt like we made an effort to be inclusive and support each other beyond soccer. We shared lots of laughs and maybe a few locker room dance parties! It was definitely a fun team to a be apart of. Playing the game we loved with such great friends made the season even more memorable.”

The acceptance of the team made it easier for a better vibe on and off the field. The families also helped keep the girls close with team dinners and sleepovers.

“We were close, I wouldn’t say it was anything over the top,” Gorsuch said. “We all were teammates, and some of us were friends. We accepted everyone as is, and I still, to this day, appreciate that about this particular team. When we stepped out for game or practice, we were one unit, and that was that. The focus, work, respect was there. We never had to have any conversations about that either, it just was the vibe and everyone was all in.”

How Soccer has Changed My Life

Just like any sport, an athlete can always take what they learn on the field off the field. Their life lessons can carry out through their lives, and they shaped how each player is today.

“I attribute much of who I am today to the fact that I played competitive sports through my childhood and early adulthood,” Hess said. “It taught me hard work, how to function as a member of a team, how to lose gracefully, how to persevere, how to continually strive for something better, how to learn your most effective role in a group dynamic, and how to play that role with dignity, even if it’s not always the role you want to play.” 

“Soccer has been a great tool and teacher for me,” Sanders said. “Not only did I love to play the game, but it was a vehicle for lessons that are transferable to life in general. It taught me the value of hard work and discipline, how dreams and goals can be catalysts for greater things, and how to respond to disappointments and setbacks. It stretched me to be a leader in ways that didn’t necessarily come naturally to me and showed me that there are far more important things than winning games. I learned how to foster mental toughness and to find victory in small successes and build off of them. I learned the process can be hard and lonely, but the results [are] always worth it. And I was fortunate to have wonderful teammates, individuals who exemplified servant leadership, kept positive attitudes, despite not seeing much playing time, and others who constantly encouraged. The beauty of a team is the varying gifts brought to the table and how they can be shared for the benefit of all. I tried to learn from others and replicate actions that resonated with me.” 

“Soccer has taught me absolutely everything,” Gorsuch said. “I encourage everyone to be involved in sports– they are an adrenaline fueling, physical, and mental battle that push you to greater limits without even realizing that is happening. Growing up, soccer was my constant and my escape. It never left my side. If I gave my all to the game, it gave it right back tenfold. The one place where I could be 100% myself without thinking. To have the people around me doing the exact same thing only made it that much easier to be fully present. Being a teammate is still one of my most cherished roles in life….  It taught me loyalty… to always have the back of the person next to me, and that is not conditional upon anything. Respect…. backing up my words with action… discipline, leading by example.”

 

Where Are They Now

After high school, each player has gone on to live their lives, some continued with soccer and some ended their career in 2005. Even twelve years later, they will always remember the experience they had together for years to come.

“I went on to win 3 out of my 4 State Championships at FHC, and one national title for the Michigan State University club team as well,” Gorsuch said. “I also played two summers semi-professionally here in Michigan and currently coach the women’s side at Alma College.”

“I did continue to play soccer,” Turek said. “I had an interesting journey. I played on the winning 2005 team, but I actually tore my MCL at the beginning of May and couldn’t play in the last few games. I then took my senior year off (the 2006 season) to heal, but when I went to Michigan State in 2006, I played intramural soccer all four years. Our team was actually really competitive, and we always did really well. But then I tore my ACL in 2009 and couldn’t play near the end of our last season. Since then, I’ve barely played. But I have helped coach and condition a few teams.”  

“I was a junior when we won states, and I chose not to play my senior year,” Hess said. “It was a very difficult decision for me, but I had a handful of injuries that were nagging me, and I think I just needed a change. I discovered theater at the end of my junior year, so I decided to dedicate my energy to that my senior year. I was the student director for all of our performances alongside [Robbin] DeMeester. I didn’t play soccer in college, but I did paint sets for our theater shows.” 

“I was not ready to give up the sport just yet,” Sanders said. “I continued playing at Messiah College, in PA. It is a NCAA DIII school.”

RGSO’s Legacy will Live On

For the inductees, a huge congratulation is in order. The honor of being inducted, as they have said, is huge. And the honor of being in an amazing program will be continued for many years to come. Their memories and knowledge will forever be recognized and passed down from generation to generation. As we look back on the legacy they made, coming back into the spotlight, becoming recognized and appreciated, we will now look towards the future of RGSO.

“People say it goes so fast, and it does…. but the memories last forever, and it all still feels like yesterday… so be present in every moment now, to make them last a lifetime later,” Gorsuch said.

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