Performance: Notre Dame Prep's Maddy Chinn

September 14, 2017

Maddy Chinn
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep  junior - Volleyball

Notre Dame Prep, one of the elite programs in Michigan with two Class B titles over the last decade, is ranked No. 1 again with a record of 24-2-2. The Fighting Irish have played 12 state-ranked teams – 10 ranked in Class A – and Saturday downed Class A No. 7 Temperance Bedford in the semifinal and then reigning Class C champion and top-ranked Bronson in the final to win the Battle Creek Lakeview Invitational. Chinn had 14 kills in the two-set semifinal and 21 in the three-set championship match to earn the first Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” of the 2017-18 school year.

The 6-foot-3 outside hitter has been on varsity since freshman year, participating in three rotations starting out, five last season and now all six. She made the Class B all-state second team as a freshman and the first team last season – and this fall she’s averaging 4.3 kills per game with a .339 hitting percentage and .453 kill percentage. But she contributes all over the floor, serving for 105 points and 36 aces in 63 games so far, with 48 blocks and 167 digs as well. Her 682 kills as a sophomore qualified for the MHSAA record book for a single season, and her 1,484 career kills through Wednesday already make that list as well although she has the better part of two seasons to play. Chinn should finish as one of the most celebrated players to take the court for longtime coach Betty Wroubel, the third-winningest volleyball coach in MHSAA history. 

Chinn has earned national recognition as well and committed to sign next year with Purdue University, currently ranked No. 15 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. She carries a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to major in dentistry when that time comes; in the meantime, she’ll try to lead Notre Dame Prep to its first MHSAA title since 2013 and after the Irish fell in a Regional Semifinal last season to eventual champion North Branch.

Coach Betty Wroubel said: “Yes, being 6-3 helps in volleyball, but height alone isn’t going to get it done. She’s a student of the game, she works hard in the game, and it’s so much more than stats. Her leadership on and off the court is exemplary, up there with the top kids I’ve worked with. And it’s not just hitting; she wants to be the best defender, she wants to be the best server, she wants to do it all. She has a high volleyball IQ, and her biggest improvement has been her ability to read what the other team is doing offensively, what they’re trying to do to stop her … for someone so young to be able to see that, it’s pretty special.”

Performance Point: “In practice, we've been putting a lot of work in, not just calling the ball, but letting each other know what spots are open and analyzing the other side of the net to find and expose the other team's weaknesses,” Chinn said. “We've been working really hard on that, and I thought that came together a lot to help us be in the finals. My (biggest contribution is) communication, to deliver the information that I see to each individual teammate in a unique way which is best for them … I want to be someone they can look to for calmness and confidence in us as a team, especially in pressure situations. The Bronson game, I think we mentally and physically prepared ourselves to play them. I thought we just really performed well and were in sync.”

Time to lead: “As my role has expanded on the court, I’d say my vocalization on the court has expanded too. The more I’ve been on the court, the more I can express to my teammates some shots they can hit, what we can be reading, and I feel like the more I’m on the court, the more I can help my teammates – which is really important to me. Being a good teammate, I think, includes putting them in the most successful position they can be in.”

Another year wiser: “The game is slowing down even when we play high-level competition. For example, the Mercy game I saw things I wouldn’t have seen a year ago, like reading their shoulders and their arms and where they’re facing and their hips and anticipating what’s going to happen next. And being there before they even know where they’re going to put the ball.”

Learning from a legend: “Honestly, it's an honor to be an athlete and to have (Wroubel) as my coach. I've learned so much over the three years already I've been here. I can't say I go a day without learning something new or adjusting something that will help me now and in the future.”

Paging Dr. Chinn: “I’m going to major in dentistry. I think it would be really interesting, and I could do some good things in that area. I’ve always been into the medical field, and I think being an orthodontist – I’m really into math and sciences – I think that would be a great place for me.”

Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army 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. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep's Maddy Chinn receives the ball during a match this fall. (Middle) Chinn rises to begin her swing on a kill attempt. (Photos by Kim Bucchi.)

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.)