It makes sense that DJ Voltz excels at the long jump.
The Carrollton junior is fast – he qualified for the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals in the 100 meters as a freshman. He’s also a multi-year all-state honoree in both football and basketball, a testament to his incredible athleticism.
How quickly he has exceled, though, is a little shocking.
Voltz’s jump of 22 feet, 2.5 inches, recorded April 30 at the Caro Tiger Invitational, is the state’s best early this season. He hit the mark in only his fifth time competing in the event.
“It’s really his first year doing it,” Carrollton track & field coach David Jaworski said. “He knew he wanted to long jump, and we knew with his speed and his athletic ability, it was something he could excel at. He’s a real competitive person. When he started, he was only able to hit (18 and 19 feet), but he’s been working with our jumpers coach, and one day he started hitting 20 and 21 consistently. It’s taken off from there.”
Extraordinary athletic achievement is nothing new for Voltz. He’s a star on the football field and the basketball court for the Cavaliers, having been named honorable mention all-state by The Associated Press in both sports as a sophomore and again as a junior in basketball, and second-team all-state as a junior in football.
His position listing for football was specialist, which, while accurate, also doesn’t seem to fully encapsulate Voltz’s role.
“He is kind of a jack of all trades,” said Jaworski, who is also Carrollton’s offensive coordinator. “We line him up at quarterback, running back, receiver, punt returner, kick returner. He played corner his first couple years, but this year we had a little more pressing needs, so he went back and played safety for us. He kind of plays where we need him to.”
Football is king for Voltz, who plans to attend camps at Central Michigan and Grand Valley State among others this summer, and has a scholarship offer from Division II Gannon University in Florida.
The 6-foot-3 speedster is being recruited as a cornerback at the next level, which would put him on the taller side of the position – the average NFL cornerback is just under 6 foot.
“They’ve been telling me when I get there, they like how I’m lanky and long,” Voltz said. “It’s easier for me to break up and intercept passes. I’m long and fast, and they said I’ve got quick feet, so I can stay with receivers.”
When asked what his position was on the basketball court, Voltz laughed before settling on combo guard. He averaged 17.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.2 steals and 1.7 blocks this past season for a Carrollton team that was 13-5 and lost by one in the Regional Final.
“He doesn’t specialize in one thing,” Jaworski said. “He still goes and plays his AAU basketball tournaments. He has three or four football camps lined up early in June. He’s at track practice every day. He’s not one to miss things. He works tirelessly. He works with his own private trainer at times, and he’s also working hard at practice.”
That work ethic has quickly transformed Voltz from potential to production in the long jump, and there’s still room to grow.
“It’s all about the technique and how fast you’re running into it,” Voltz said. “You have to count your steps, make sure you jump and make sure you pick your feet up when you jump so you can have extra length in that sand pit. I still have a lot to learn. I really like doing long jump, and I’m getting the technique down. There’s always room to get better at it, and I’m trying to get even farther.”
The newfound success in the long jump has Voltz seriously considering adding track to his collegiate pursuits, and he said the football coaches he’s spoken with are on board with it.
For now, Voltz has his eyes on the school record, which at 23-2, he feels is attainable. He said he’s not thinking, yet, about potentially adding more all-state honors to his resume at the MHSAA Finals on June 5.
“It’s still early,” he said. “I’m still focusing on getting better for that situation. I’m not really focused on the later on, I’m focused on what’s going on right now.”
His focus and constant presence with Carrollton athletics is something Jaworski said is setting an example for younger athletes in the community. Voltz is more than happy to add mentor to his long list of duties.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I want to set an example, and when I leave this school, I want to be one of the ones they talk about – one of the greats at Carrollton. I want them to want to follow in my footsteps and want to be better than me. I want them to beat my records one day.”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Carrollton’s DJ Voltz soars through a long jump attempt this spring. (Middle) Voltz fills one of his many roles on the Cavaliers’ football team. (Photos courtesy of the Carrollton track & field program & DJ Voltz.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.
“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”
Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.
“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.
Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.
As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.
He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.
“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.
Guillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.
“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.
Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.
At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.
“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”
Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.
In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.
Gribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.
“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”
Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.
“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”
In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.
“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.
“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”
Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.
“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”
Big shoes to fill
As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.
Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.
Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.
Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.
“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.
As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”
His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.
He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.
“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”
Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.
“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.
“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)