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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Heugh and cry at Troy Athens

Former Rochester High soccer coach Todd Heugh opened practice at his alma mater, Troy Athens, on Monday.

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Thanks Simon. Thanks Garfunkel. Thanks Todd Heugh.

As if on cue, music was actually playing as Heugh made his return to Troy Athens High School, his alma mater.
Heugh, who resides in Macomb, officially opened his tenure as the boys’ soccer coach at Athens Wednesday.
The background music was provided not by Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel but the school’s marching band, which was also getting limbered up for the upcoming school year.
Soccer practice opened across the state Wednesday, and Heugh was holding tryouts on the auxiliary soccer field adjacent to the band’s practice area.
The new coach was surrounded by countless hopeful players, all justifiably anxious because the rosters of the Athens teams have not been set yet.
Heugh certainly knows how the young players felt. He was in their shoes a couple of decades ago.
“My freshman year was the first year they had junior varsity soccer. Prior to that, all they had was varsity. We heard in middle school that there would be 100 kids trying out for soccer, and only 25 would make the team.
“It was great when they started junior varsity soccer, because that meant 40 or 45 kids were now included in the program. Still, we knew we had to be fit and we had to compete if we wanted to make either team. There were standards to meet,” continued Heugh.
Heugh played for junior varsity coach Bob Blake two years, and then moved up to varsity where he played for Tim Storch.
“We were not coming in just to make a team; we were here to win a state championship every year. That was the mentality back then. Obviously soccer has spread to other communities and things are different now,” he continued.
Heugh, a 1990 graduate of Athens, played on the 1989 Class A squad that defeated Plymouth Salem 1-0 in the title game. A year earlier, the Red Hawks fell to Brother Rice 2-0 in the semifinals.
Heugh later played at NCAA Division I Eastern Michigan University.
“I had tremendous respect for Coach Storch,” said Heugh. “He helped me get on the Eastern Michigan team as a freshman. I was never an all state player here; I was a member of two good teams. I cherished a lot of those moments to the point that I already knew that when I was leaving high school that I wanted to be a teacher and a soccer coach.”
Heugh is also a teacher at Larson Middle School in Troy.
Storch had been the only soccer coach Athens ever had. He retired from teaching in June. Storch and his wife, Liz, have moved to the family vacation home on Grand Lake and he is now coaching the boys’ team at Alpena High School.
Storch established quite a legacy in 30 years as the boys and girls soccer coach at Athens, winning nine state titles and amassing more than 900 wins.
Storch started the soccer program at Athens in 1981. He won five state titles with the boys, and four with the girls.
Heugh might be new to Athens, but he is hardly a rookie coach himself. His high school coaching career began in 1996 as a junior varsity boys’ soccer coach at Troy High. He stayed with the Colts through the 1999 season.
He was the boys’ varsity coach at Rochester High from 2000 to 2006. His Falcons won the OAA Red Division championship four consecutive seasons. His 2002 squad won the state championship, defeating Plymouth Salem 1-0.
He also coached the girls’ squad at Rochester. The girls won four district championships and in 2007 made it all the way to the state title game, losing 2-1 to Novi.
Heugh also coaches several Vardar teams. He will coach the girls’ team at Athens in the spring.
“I will really miss the people at Rochester, but I could not turn this job down,” said Heugh. “There was something about the four years I spent at Troy Athens that were very special.”
There was a 20-year reunion of the Class of 1990 at The Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. Very quickly during those festivities in the venue’s plush surroundings, Heugh found himself huddling up with six or seven of the guys he played soccer with. They swapped story after story.
He is huddling up with Athens’ soccer players once again. Only they call him Coach Heugh.


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