Younger Dowagiac’s last line of defense

Dowagiac keeper Grace Younger has already made 162 saves this season. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Dowagiac keeper Grace Younger has already made 162 saves this season. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Grace Younger has gone from the dancer to a dandy soccer goalkeeper.

One really led her to the other.

The Dowagiac Union High School junior took the time tell her story after making 14 more saves Monday, in a 3-0 loss at Edwardsburg to raise her 2016 season total to 162.

Her eighth grade year, Younger found out she had Snapping Hip Syndrome aka “dancer’s hip.”

That makes sense since she was a dancer from the ages of 3 to 13. All the stretching — splits and other acrobatic moves associated with dance — led to the condition.

“It hurts my knees and hips really badly when I run,” Younger said. “I can pop my hips really loudly and it effects me when I run. Goalie means not as much running so I can still play the sport I love.”

Younger began playing soccer at age 5 in the American Youth Soccer Organization in Dowagiac.

“My mom was my first coach,” the daughter of Sherry and David Younger said. “We played for the Purple Parrots in AYSO.”

Grace was also active showing horses and she played volleyball in grades 6-8.

But her hips hurt really bad from running. Her eighth grade soccer coach, Rob True, knew that and moved her from midfield and goalie.

“I ended up liking it so I stuck with it,” Younger said.

With help from Dowagiac head girls coach Ryan Haines as well as Matt Haines and Chieftains head boys soccer coach Mike Williams and physical therapy exercises, she’s also become pretty good at it.

They have taught her things like lifting her leg on an air ball in order to protect herself.

“Travel ball in goal has made her better,” Ryan Haines said. “The harder she works, the better she’s going to be. She realizes that.”

What does Grace think about when she’s between the pipes for the Chieftains?

“I just try to keep my head in the game and not become distracted,” Younger said. “I focus on the ball and make sure my defense is on their marks. Sometimes they might not see that a chick is coming in behind them and trying to kick the ball so I have to inform them.”

Good goalkeepers are also good multi-taskers and readers of the action in front of them..

“It’s all about angles — where to stop the ball, where to dive, where to get rid of the ball (distribution),” Haines said. “There’s so much with a goalkeeper. It’s the most important position of the 11. They see everything. She’s getting to that point.

“She keeps us in a lot of these games.”

 

Dowagiac

Medical event causes car to crash into Dowagiac Burger King

Cass County

Cassopolis man sent to prison on drug charges

Dowagiac

SMC recognized for turning students into citizens

Dowagiac

ETS program awarded grant from Department of Education

Cass County

Dowagiac man who broke elementary school windows sentenced to probation

Dowagiac

Changes to retirement benefits cause for concern among Cass County employees

News

Niles first ward residents ask for an end to gun violence in their community

Buchanan

Buchanan Area Senior Center raising funds to convert porch into sunroom

Cass County

Man arrested on drug charges in Mason Township

Cass County

Cass County Commissioners approve grant for Dowagiac River restoration

Business

Lyons Industries donates 12 thermal imaging cameras to Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department

Cass County

Niles man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Sept. 13-14

Berrien County

Local emergency departments experiencing high volumes, wait times

Berrien County

Residents demand Berrien County commissioners take action on mask mandate

Business

Cassopolis hosts Cass County Leadership Summit

Business

Owners of vintage farm tractors invited to Under the Harvest Moon

Business

Edwardsburg welcomes new construction business

Cassopolis

Cassopolis organization to host walk honoring National Suicide Prevention Month

Business

PHOTO STORY: A-Mazing Acres opens for season

Buchanan

Niles teen builds Eagle Scout project on McCoy Creek Trail

Business

New short-term rental property group to offer guests ‘curated’ Dowagiac experience

Cass County

Two women injured in La Grange Township crash

News

Niles hosts town hall between community, law enforcement