NORTH MUSKEGON, MI – Justice Sikkema didn’t waste any time picking up where he left off from last year’s soccer season.
And the year before that and the year before that.
Sikkema, a senior forward at North Muskegon, scored four goals Tuesday night to reach the 100-goal milestone. He broke NM’s school record of 84 last season and started his fourth season on the varsity with 91 goals.
According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association record books, he is the first boys soccer player in the Muskegon area to reach triple digits. The state career record is 201 set by Aaron Chatfield at Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian from 2009-12.
It took Sikkema three games into the season to reach the century mark.
“My biggest goal was the school record and I always had that in my head, but never thought about 100,” he said. “You go into every game with the mindset that you’re going to find a way to score and find a way to win the game for your team.”
In Tuesday’s 4-1 victory against Hart, Sikkema scored twice in each half. The 100th goal came late in the game on a breakaway and Sikkema was glad it came on NM’s home field.
“On the field, it was nice to take in. There was a lot of people there, the most I’ve ever gotten clapped for anything I’ve ever done, so that was really cool,” he said. “Just having my whole family there, taking pictures with them after the game. A pretty mellow night besides that.”
Sikkema said there is no secret to his success other than a lot of hard work.
“I took whatever I could get for goals. It didn’t have to be pretty. I just work for the ball and get there and find a way to put it in the net,” he said. “After a goal, it’s all adrenaline just going through me.”
North Muskegon coach Jeremy Tjapkes isn’t surprised by the feat because of Sikkema’s skill and drive. He also plays in the Lakeshore Premier travel program and has hopes to play in college.
“A big effort by him with all the time he’s put in down at the field,” Tjapkes said. “You can find him down at the field the last 5-6 years. Any time you drive by and there’s a ball out here and a kid, it’s probably him. It’s his passion to play soccer and he loves the competition. He gets it and whenever a kid puts in that time and effort and understands the game, good things happen.”
Tjapkes had Sikkema and Spencer Mueller, another four-year varsity player for the Norsemen, serve as team managers for the varsity as eighth graders and that helped them prepare for high school competition the following year.
“That made me a lot more comfortable going into my freshman year,” Sikkema said. “I had to work with some big guys, but we got the job done. I’ve had good teams going through my four years here and they’ve helped a lot.”
Sikkema had goal totals of 21, 34 and 36 the past three seasons and Tjapkes said he has a knack for scoring but also plays well within the team concept. At 5-11 and 145 pounds, Sikkema has good speed and body control to break into the clear.
“It’s his ability to unbalance defenders. He’s so quick with his side-to-side motion, as soon as he gets them unbalanced, he attacks them,” Tjapkes said. “Not many kids understand that. Most kids push the ball around them and outrun them, but with him, he can work with speed, he can get them unbalanced and beat them both ways and then it’s his ability to finish with both feet.”
And Sikkema is using those foot skills beyond the soccer field this season. He’s also joined the football team as a kicker to play with an old group of friends.
Sikkema was a running back for NM’s football team through the eighth grade, but decided to stick with soccer full-time after that – until now.
“It was a big switch for me because all the guys in my family played football,” Sikkema said. “As long as I was working hard and getting the results (in soccer), they were happy with it.”
Tjapkes is good with Sikkema stepping back on the football field, too.
“As long as the kids are happy, I’m happy. It’s one of those things, I’ve had a lot of people get in our business, ‘what are doing letting him do both?’ Because that’s what he wants to do,” Tjapkes said. “I’m not going to hold a kid back from an opportunity. He quit playing football to play soccer, so for him to go back to kick and help out. … A lot of his friends are on the football team. He’s a heck of a kicker and he has a good opportunity there to maybe get a scholarship, if he continues to do well. You hate to take opportunities away from the kids. High school is about memories and having fun, not all about business.”