Performance: Hudsonville's Kaylee Maat

October 11, 2019

Kaylee Maat
Hudsonville senior – Volleyball

The fourth-year varsity setter had 35 assists – including the 4,000th of her high school career – to lead the No. 2-ranked Eagles past No. 9 Grand Haven 3-1 in a matchup of top Division 1 teams, earning the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.” Maat became the 12th Michigan athlete to surpass that 4,000 milestone, and with 4,183 she’s up to seventh in state history for career assists since the introduction of rally scoring during the 2004-05 season.

Maat is averaging 7.6 assists per game this season and also has 22 aces for a Hudsonville team that is 36-2 as it pursues its first MHSAA championship in this sport. Two days before the Grand Haven match, Maat and the Eagles got past Division 2 top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian 3-2 to avenge its most recent of two defeats this fall. (Hudsonville also has twice avenged its first loss of this season, to Division 1 No. 3 Lowell). In addition to joining the varsity lineup as a freshman, Maat is a three-time team captain and earned all-state honorable mention last season to go with a number of other accolades during her career.

After growing up playing softball as well, Maat turned her full athletic attention to volleyball in high school and has helped the Eagles to District titles the last two seasons. She also carries a 3.3 grade-point average and will continue her academic and athletic careers at Ferris State University, where she plans to study sports communications in pursuit of a career in event planning for a sports franchise or athletic program.

Coach Teresa VanDerSchaaf said: “It has been a true honor to coach Kaylee over the last four years. She has developed into such an amazing leader that genuinely cares for her teammates and their success. She shares credit with her team and loves watching them succeed. Kaylee has time and time again stepped up in big matches as well as stepped up in leadership roles. She handles pressure situations really well. We place a lot of ownership on our captains, and for Kaylee to rise to that opportunity and care about her development, as well as her team’s, is something that is so amazing to see.”

Performance Point: “I've put a lot of work in. But my team gives so much back to me, whether it be feedback or great passes; it comes mostly from them,” Maat said. “I had kind of an idea (I was close to 4,000). Some of my favorite teachers were chirping about it, but I didn't know exactly where I was at. I think it's a milestone. … It's something I've been striving for for a while.”

A better way: “When I was a freshman, I was kind of a hot head. … That comes from just being super passionate about what I do. I want to win in everything that I do in life, whether it's in school – like I want to beat someone else out for a better grade – I'm always competitive about everything, and that's kinda where that came from. But it's directed in a better way now that I've grown up. Learning not everyone responds well to someone jumping in their shoes about something – through the coaches, through Hudsonville, I've learned that.”

Learning to lead: “When I was a sophomore, we went through a leadership book, all the different keys of leadership, and I think I really bought into that and every aspect of it. My sophomore year, I really grew that year because of going through that with my coaches and the other captains. … At the beginning of the year, it’s always a little rocky getting to know the new girls and talking about seeing how people respond to different things – that’s always something to learn. Always giving other people what they want is my top priority.”

More than a game: “I've gained so many friendships through (volleyball). Like yeah, we all love the game, but the relationships you gain through it is what I feel keeps everyone together and supporting each other. That's what I love – the game brings so many people together. Through high school, in my community, and other high schools, and during club I've met a lot of girls from different states. They're people that are exactly like me and love what they do every day.

Creative outlet: “I've always been super-organized – that's my thing – and creating stuff. I've always been into crafts, like when I was a kid I was always making something with my dad outside or in the kitchen with my mom or doing something fun with papers and crafts with my grandma. In my free time, I do a lot of journaling. … Writing all this stuff down in a creative way helps me process all of this stuff.”

– Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Past honorees

Oct. 3: Emily Paupore, Negaunee cross country - Report
Sept. 26: 
Josh Mason, South Lyon soccer - Report
Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Hudsonville setter Kaylee Maat (5) celebrates with her teammates. (Middle) Maat, in her fourth season starting for the Eagles' varsity, sets for one her team's hitters. (Photos by Robert McCulfor Photography.)

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.)