Performance: Fenton's Chloe Idoni

November 17, 2016

Chloe Idoni
Fenton sophomore – Volleyball

Despite entering the postseason with only five losses, Fenton was unranked in the final Class A poll – but the Tigers have made their presence felt over the last three weeks, and especially by defeating No. 10 Utica Eisenhower and then No. 2 Clarkston in last week’s Regional. Leading the way was 5-foot-11 outside hitter Idoni, who tallied 24 kills and 16 digs against Eisenhower and 32 kills against the Wolves to earn the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Fenton has since advanced to its first MHSAA Semifinal since 1992 as Idoni had 12 kills and 15 digs in Tuesday’s five-set Quarterfinal win over Midland that improved the Tigers to 46-5-3 this fall. She started at middle hitter as a freshman and this season until sliding outside before Districts began. That move has opened up more opportunities for her to make an impact; she's second on her team with 445 kills while leading with a .390 hitting percentage. She also leads with 108 blocks, 64 aces and is among top defenders on the team with 255 digs.

Idoni was a standout on the varsity basketball team that finished 18-7 and won a District title last winter, earning all-area honorable mention from the Flint Journal. She also played junior varsity soccer as a freshman, but is considering participating in track & field next spring; she was a high jumper in middle school and might do that event and throws. In addition, Idoni is a strong student – she carries a 3.9 grade-point average – and already is considering studying for a career in sports medicine when high school is done.

Coach Jerry Eisinger said: “As a freshman, it was pretty obvious that she is a very special talent. Last year and for much of this year, Chloe was a middle hitter for our team. And she was very dominant at that position, with powerful kills and strong blocking. But being in the middle, we were limited as to how much we could get her the ball. Later in this season we moved Chloe to outside hitter, where we could get her the ball more regularly, and since that time she has really become a force. It goes beyond the powerful kills. She has excellent court presence and knows when to tip and when to hit. Her defensive skills are also impressive as she has become one of our better passers and is a very good six-position player. Lastly, her attitude is a big reason for her success. Looking at her, you would never know if she is struggling or dominating, except for her “kill celebration.” Her competitive attitude and court maturity goes way beyond her age.”

Performance Point: “I knew our team could do it if we played together, played with heart, and we played together and accomplished our goal,” Idoni said. “I love being the underdog, not expected to win, because you don’t have all this pressure. You go out and give it your all, and as long as you give it your all you don’t have anything to look down on yourselves. … We knew (Clarkston) had an amazing team. They were ranked number 2 and we weren’t even ranked.  We just have to play it play-by-play, do our thing and never give up. After the first (set), it just filled our confidence up. If we beat them once, there was no reason we couldn’t beat them again.”

Making the move: “I was a middle and got moved outside; I like it better. It gives me more opportunities, and I got to play all around recently too. I was an outside hitter for a couple of years until I moved to middle, so I had experience with it. I knew I’d be OK with it. … (And) I’ve been playing with Kiley (Aldred) my setter a really long time in travel volleyball, so we’ve had chemistry for a long time.”

Celebrate: “I have a lot of energy on the court, so when I get a kill I like to celebrate a lot, give my team more energy because it helps on the next play. Our cheer celebration, we don’t have a specific one. We just go to the middle and scream and yell.”

Whatever is in season: “(My favorite sport) really depends on the season. Right now, my favorite is volleyball in a way, but things change in basketball season. I go back and forth. In volleyball (I like that) you get to celebrate more with your team (after a point) instead of having to go right back on defense.”

Underclassmen can lead, too: “I like to try to be the best leader I can be for both teams. I help out my teams the best I can, to have more energy, get more excited and never get down on themselves. Most underclassmen might be a little intimidated, but I was never intimidated. I have lots of upperclassmen friends that I knew for a long time, and they’re all nice people, great teammates.” 

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Fenton's Chloe Idoni (right) puts up a block during a match against Clio in 2015. (Middle) Idoni prepares to swing during Tuesday's Quarterfinal win over Midland. (Photos by Mark Bolen and David Troppens/Tri-City Times.)

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom 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 [email protected] 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) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)