Slovak set for soccer, but committed to three sports

J. Patrick Eaken

Clay senior Kennedy Slovak is already set to play NCAA Division II soccer at the University of Findlay next year.
        However, as a senior, Slovak is going to do her best to make sure the Clay basketball and softball teams have good seasons.
        She has been playing soccer since age 5, and by the time she was eight she was playing all three.
        “I’ve pretty much played all three since I was younger and I’ve pretty much stuck with them all the way through. I have to say soccer is my favorite just because of the level I am at, but I enjoy playing basketball,” Kennedy said.
        Kennedy is accomplished, having made all-league teams in all three sports, including Three Rivers Athletic Conference first team goalkeeper, second team all-league and all-district shortstop in softball, and honorable mention in basketball.
        “I’ve enjoyed her accomplishments here at Clay — they have been phenomenal,” said her father and basketball coach Corey Slovak. “She’s been a part of two TRAC championships in soccer, she’s been a part of two TRAC championships in softball, she’s been part of a district championship in soccer—first time Clay has ever done it.
        “And, a part of a district championship in softball, so I think she’s one of very few who can say that. I know there are only two girls now and maybe for a long time who have had two district championships in two different sports at Clay. But beyond that, I’m most proud of her because she’s coachable and she’s a fantastic teammate, so that’s where I beam with pride is watching her be a great teammate and be successful.
        “One of the accomplishments that she will never bring up, but I will, is that she is a three-time TRAC goalkeeper of the year, which has never been done. That was kind of a neat thing for her this year to hang her hat on, which is combine that with the first-ever district championship. That is a senior season fairy tale, right there.
        “It’s been a great career, but it’s that she’s been such a great teammate, and that is a credit to her, her coaches, her travel coaches, and everybody who chirps in her ear but me.”
        Last fall, the Clay girls soccer team was 11-6-1, losing in a Division I regional semifinal to eventual state runner-up Anthony Wayne, 2-1. Kennedy had 69 saves and was part of eight shutout victories.
        At Findlay, she will join a team that went 14-3-2 last year, the most wins in a season since 1997, and won a Great Midwest Athletic Conference regular season championship advancing to the NCAA Division II regional final.
        She will major in sports management and join AW players Hannah Rybicki and Emily Gardner and Notre Dame standout Alyssa Stark at UF.
        “We should be solid,” Kennedy said. “I’ve actually been playing with Emily since I was five. I have not played with Hannah, but I know her, and Alyssa — I’ve been playing with her since I was 5, too, so that is really cool.”
        She had some inside roads to Findlay — head coach James Walker was her travel coach with the Pacesetters before he took over the Findlay program in January of 2018.
        “He saw me play throughout my Pacesetter career and he recruited me through there,” Kennedy said.
        Clay coach Don Hess also played a major role.
        “He has definitely pushed me to my limits, and I think that has helped me a lot, and he’s definitely formed me into the player I am,” Kennedy said.
        For the basketball team, Kennedy, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, is averaging nine points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, leading the team in assists and steals and third in scoring and rebounding.
        The team is led by 6-1 senior forward Olivia Henneman-Dallape, who is averaging nearly a double-double at 13.7 points and 9.9 rebounds. Alivia Rew, a 6-1 senior center, contributes with 6.6 rebounds. They all play for Kennedy’s father, eighth-year coach Corey Slovak, which Kennedy enjoys.
        “I like it actually,” Kennedy said. “It has a lot of pros to it, but it also has a lot of cons because you have people who think that, ‘Oh, she’s only playing because her dad is the coach.’ But, I like having him for the support and he is really supportive.”
        As a junior on the basketball team, she averaged seven points and five assists and had 43 steals and blocked 22 shots. As a sophomore, she contributed five points, six rebounds and five assists.
        This year, the Clay basketball team only has four wins (4-10 overall, 1-6 TRAC), and Kennedy is hoping the Eagles can get back to .500 before it is all said and done. On the soccer pitch and basketball court, she has found herself in a leadership role her senior year.
        “I’m really close with everybody at Clay who plays sports, and especially for soccer, I was really close with the underclassmen and I think it helped them be more comfortable, and the same with basketball,” Kennedy said.
        Playing shortstop for coach Brenda Radabaugh, Kennedy batted .392 (31 for 79) with 18 runs, three home runs, 25 RBIs, eight stolen bases and was second team All-TRAC and first team Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press her junior year. As a sophomore playing second and third base, she batted .377 (26 for 69) with 19 runs, four HR, 30 RBIs and two SB.
        She still plans to play softball for Clay, which is a perennial powerhouse in the TRAC and the Northwest District, budgeting her time, even though she could hang her hat on her soccer scholarship.
        “I think what makes things kind of rare for her is nowadays she is able to manage school, time, club sports with high school sports. That’s hard. That’s difficult,” her dad Corey said.
        “Since she’s been eight or nine, she has played all three and it would not have happened without phenomenal and patient and great AAU and travel coaches who were willing to work with us and our time schedule. So, we’ve been very fortunate with that. It’s been a fun ride to watch, no doubt about it.”
        Corey says budgeting her time will still be a challenge at UF, but he doesn’t plan to miss any soccer games.
        “I’m not going to miss a second of her at Findlay — that is for sure,” Corey said.


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