Freshman Flynn Has Harbor Springs Hoops Taking Flight Again

By Tom Spencer
Special for

December 17, 2021

Kalkaska and the rest of the Lake Michigan Conference may not know much of the basketball family history of Harbor Springs point guard Olivia Flynn.

But likely they know all of her high school basketball history.

Flynn, just a freshman for the Rams, has already racked up three 30-point plus performances – over just five career games – entering tonight’s LMC game at home with the Blazers. The Rams are off to a 5-0 start under first year coach Amy Flynn, also the mother of the Rams’ emerging star.

And, the Harbor Spring boys are off to a 3-1 start under first year coach John Flynn, Olivia’s father. The boys suffered their first loss Thursday, to Kalkaska, 51-48. 

Last year, Olivia was an eighth grader at Petoskey. She transferred to Harbor to be a part of the growing Flynn family basketball history. Her grandfather, Joe Flynn, is a member of the Harbor Springs High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Joe Flynn began working for Harbor Springs schools in 1968 as a middle school social studies teacher. He left a lasting impression shaping and molding many Harbor student athletes’ lives during a career spanning more than 30 years.

Harbor Springs basketballJohn Flynn starred for the Petoskey boys basketball team for three years and coached the Northmen the last three seasons. He’s a member of the Petoskey High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Northmen went 43-16 under his guidance. But he grew up and spent most of his years in Harbor Springs. 

The Rams girls varsity helm is Amy Flynn’s first high school head coaching job. But she’s no stranger to coaching youth basketball, and both she and John played at Grand Valley State. She and her husband also coached at East Grand Rapids High School.

Olivia urged her mom to apply for the Rams vacancy, knowing of her 1995-1999 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record-setting basketball career and all the knowledge she had gained from her mother’s previous experience.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else besides my mom coaching,” Olivia said matter-of-factly. “My mom’s always been there to help me get better. 

“She has high expectations of me, so there is no other coach I would want.”

The 30-point performances, the most recent 38 in a lopsided win over Harbor Light Christian, is putting a little pressure on the freshman star. But the first-year coach is not feeling it.

“I don’t feel like there is pressure, just because when Olivia gets out there on the court it’s just so natural,” Amy Flynn said.  “There is nothing forced. The game comes to her.”

Credit for Olivia’s fast start in high school also needs to go AAU coaches Rob Ruhstorfer, Jermain Smith and Jake Voelker, both Olivia and Amy noted.

“They had a huge impact on Olivia’s career,” Amy said. “The (Michigan) Mystics have been a great team for her and all the experiences.”

Harbor Springs basketballAmy Flynn has watched her daughter’s growth and feels blessed to have a team of players wanting to grow in the game of basketball. Athletes with a winning attitude and desire to learn were awaiting when she took over the Rams.

“Whether she continues to score 30 points or not, her game just will come along and she will bring her teammates along with her,” Amy said.  “These girls are amazing – it was all there for me — already set more or less.”

Making the move to Harbor for the Flynn coaches was the best thing for their family, which also includes their second-grade son and boys team manager Johnny, fifth-grade daughter and girls team manager Alaina, and eighth-grade son and member of the Harbor middle school basketball team, Braeden.  Another factor was the boys coach’s fond memories of playing for his father.

“I was apprehensive to take this position just because I didn’t know how Olivia would feel about it,” Amy Flynn said. “When she came to me a said, ‘Mom there is a girls opening in Harbor Springs and I want you to take it,’ I said, ‘You want to transfer from Petoskey and you want me to coach … are your sure about this?’ And she said, ‘Yep, and I will learn more from you and this is something we’ll never forget.’

“My husband (John) was on the same page,” the girls coach continued. “He said, ‘These are going to be four short years of her life and our lives. We’re going to do this as a family. If you want this, we’re all in.’”

So far, Olivia is loving high school basketball at Harbor. She’s expecting more difficult challenges ahead though, as she steps on the court each night sporting her No. 33 jersey.

“I am excited I started off on this foot, but I know we have some bigger games coming up too,” she said.  “So I have to dial in and focus and get prepared for those games. 

“They are going to be tougher competition, so I have to get ready for those.”

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Harbor Springs’ Olivia Flynn (33) has a spring in her step as she comes off the floor during last Friday’s win over Grayling. (Middle) The Flynn family, from left: Alaina, Amy, Olivia, Braeden, John and Johnny. (Below) Olivia and Alaina share a fun moment. (Photos by Sarah Sheperd.)

Title IX at 50: Ruby Whitehorn's Story

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

October 4, 2022

We finish our “Title IX at 50” this week highlighting the latest Detroit Edison basketball star – who will no doubt continue to dazzle now that she’s moved on to the college ranks.

Ruby Whitehorn became the fourth-straight Miss Basketball Award winner from Edison last winter on the way to leading the Pioneers to the Division 2 championship. The 6-foot guard also was a contributor off the bench as a freshman when Edison won the Division 2 title in 2019, and the Pioneers were 23-0 in 2020 when that season was ended due to COVID-19.

Edison was 80-4 total over her four seasons on varsity. Whitehorn is continuing her career at Clemson University.

"It means everything to me, but it’s because of everyone who got me to this point – my coaches and teammates and (everyone else).

"They’ve just helped me along the way, and it feels good to give back to them."

The MHSAA will conclude its yearlong celebration of Title IX with this weekend’s 25th Women in Sports Leadership Conference in Lansing. The event remains the first, largest and longest-running of its kind in the country.

This year’s conference is themed “Power of the Past – Force of the Future” and is again sold out, as Crowne Plaza Lansing West will be filled Sunday and Monday mostly by Michigan high school female student-athletes but also administrators, coaches, officials, trainers and others who contribute to school sports.

Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

Sept. 27: Eliana Bommarito's Story - Read
Sept. 20:
Anna Tracey's Story - Read
Sept. 13:
Lola Korpi's Story - Read
Sept. 6:
Meah Bajt's Story - Read
Aug. 30: 
Morgan Brunner's Story - Read
Aug. 23:
Ava Brizard's Story - Read
Aug. 16:
Paige Miller's Story - Read
Aug. 9:
Gracie Olsen's Story - Read
Aug. 2:
Maddy Stern's Story - Read
July 26:
Reese Miller's Story - Read
July 19:
Macy Irelan's Story - Read
July 12:
Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5:
Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28:
Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: 
We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: 
Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: 
From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: 
Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read

May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: 
Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: 
Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: 
Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: 
Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: 
Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: 
Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: 
Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: 
Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: 
Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 
28 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: 
Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: 
Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read