Identical no extra: McLean sisters become rivals at MSU, Michigan | Sports
TRAVERSE CITY – Mady and Avery McLean won the best of both worlds.
The identical twin sisters from Traverse City Central have each committed to running in College Cross Country and Track.
And not only at different, but also at competing universities.
Avery McLean volunteered at Michigan State University on Wednesday while Mady heads off to run at the University of Michigan. Coincidentally, due to the precautionary measures for COVID-19, the day of the signing took place in Central’s track complex.
“It was definitely a factor in my decision just because we’ve been together around the clock for almost 18 years,” said Mady McLean. “I think we’re both ready to be our own person and evolve as individuals separated from each other. We’ll definitely miss each other, but we’re ready for something new.”
Avery repeated the same feelings.
“We’ve been teammates since elementary school, obviously going to the same school and doing the same sports,” said Avery McLean. “So it’s nice to have the chance to grow and develop separately, but also to be close enough to encourage each other and then see each other grow and develop as athletes at the college level.”
The McLean sisters are leading a group of six athletes from Traverse City Central who are volunteering for Division 1 schools on Wednesday.
Perhaps not by chance, both twins are planning to study engineering.
The two took first place in 17 of 19 races this season for the Trojan track team, which set out for a double game against TC West on Wednesday. They ended up in the top 10 of any cross country race, but one last fall before the state finals.
“We have been really blessed to have such a great team every year,” said Mady McLean. “I love it. You’re my second family. You’re my best friends. We just have a great team environment. It’s positive and supportive. And we all work together to achieve shared goals for success.”
As the recruiting process accelerated, Michigan and Michigan State became two favorites. It was just a matter of which school they would go to. Both schools wanted both sisters.
“We were both recruited from both schools and then we just liked the other,” said Avery McLean. “And we wanted a bit of space, but also closeness. Just to be able to compete with each other at the same conferences, it’s a great opportunity to have as siblings.”
TC Central cross country coach Lisa Taylor was introduced by McLean sisters and flipped her white face mask over to reveal a side of Michigan state during the signing of Avery.
Thirty-two student athletes from TC Central and TC West signed up on Wednesday, plus three more to TC Christian. TC St. Francis held its signing ceremony in March where 10 athletes advanced to the next level.
“We are very fortunate that three seniors only sign in the cross team,” said Mady McLean. “We just have such a strong and intelligent class. We have all received great GPAs and go to reputable and great schools. I’m really proud of that and I’m really proud of everyone because we’ve worked through these together as student athletes, and…” we are ahead of the game. “
Central’s signing classes also included Leah Doezema, who went to Michigan for athletics, Drew Seabase went to Michigan for cross country, Carson Briggs went to Western Michigan for soccer, and Samantha Thoma went to Michigan for rowing.
The Trojans have numerous other signatories on Wednesday, including Austin Bills (soccer, Saginaw Valley), Tylor McCoon (soccer, Saginaw Valley), Mckenzie Bohrer (athletics, Saginaw Valley) and Emma Turnquist (volleyball, Davenport), Dominic Palamara (baseball , Grand Rapids CC), Luke Linder (baseball, Muskegon CC), Allison Hankins (cross-country skiing, Kalamazoo College), Ivy Walker (tennis, Kalamazoo College), Gabe Weaver (wrestling, Cleary College), Jordan Usiondek (women’s hockey, Marian University) and Kelsi Elliott (soccer, Kalamazoo College).
TC West’s class includes Anci Dy (golf, Indianapolis University), Brittany Stiemel (softball, Northwood), Wren Wodek (rowing, Minnesota), Christian Boivin (soccer, Michigan), Aliah Diehl (basketball, Aquinas), Finn Durbin ( Soccer, Calvin College), Tony Gallegos (soccer, Spring Arbor), Michael Elliott (soccer, Concordia), Josh Reece (club hockey, Central Michigan), Charlie Jeffrey (baseball, Cornerstone), Luke Robertson (baseball, Albion), Isabel Spearing (Track, Aquinas), Gavin Michael (soccer, Lawrence Tech), Ava Warren (golf, St. Francis University of Fort Wayne) and Carson Whipple (basketball, Grace Christian).
On the day Traverse City Christian signed, hockey player Ellie Visser (Aurora University) and bowlers Hunter Haldaman and Jeremy Hansen, both of whom were hired at Cornerstone University, attended.
Elk Rapids’ Preston Ball signs on Friday to play basketball for Trine University.
Madison Wilkinson from Kalkaska and Avery Zipp from Charlevoix each committed to play softball at Alpena Community College, and held a joint signing ceremony on Monday between doubles games against each other.
Doezema, who finished either first or second in eight out of ten encounters this season, was recruited from Princeton, Michigan, Michigan State and Brown, among others.
“When it came down to it, I made my choice between Michigan and Michigan State,” said Doezema, who is planning a major in human biology. “It depended on academics.”
She holds the school record for discus and shares it with Bohrer in the shot put.
Doezema said she looks forward to continuing her advances in shot put and discus under coach Jerry Clayton, who has produced at least one athlete for each of the last four Olympics.
“To be honest, it’s not just about the money,” said Doezema. “The biggest thing for me was where I wanted to thrive academically and with my teammates. It’s about the experience.”
Seabase, who moved from Alpena to Central after his sophomore year, earned three all-state awards in high school. Even so, the team captain is just as excited about next year’s team when he’s gone as he is this season.
“The team is doing really well this year,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the team next year. They’ll do at least as well.”
He will be reunited with former Alpena teammates Aden and Joshua Smith on the Michigan state cross country team. The twin brothers are in their second year.
“I just really like the coach and the team dynamic they had there,” said Seabase. “I’ve been in high school for four years now and I know a lot of people there.”
TC Central Boys coach John Lober spoke about Seabase’s long list of achievements and concluded by saying, “I’m a Spartan fan. That makes it even better.”
Traverse City Tritons rowing coach Chris Bott said Thoma knew what she wanted from day one of her first training.
During this first training session, Thoma did not wait for an instruction and simply took a position at the Coxon position of the boat.
“I had rowed for two years, two seasons before I started high school,” said Thoma. “So I had some experience with Coxen and just knew that I loved it and that I wanted to be there, so I just walked right in front of the boat.”
Bott immediately took note of this trust and sailed Thoma to Michigan State.
“She is a strategist at heart,” said Bott. “She always thinks ahead of the competition. And she’s tiny, which is perfect for the position.”
However, the 4-foot-10, 94-pound Thoma got a big college offer. She also had interests from Providence, Princeton, and Michigan. She plans to graduate in biomedical laboratory science from MSU.
“My mother is actually a graduate,” said Thoma. “I was very familiar with the campus and the school itself, so it was always at the top of the list.”