Performance: Southfield Christian's Emily Van Dyke

November 22, 2019

Emily Van Dyke
Southfield Christian senior – Volleyball

The 5-foot-11 outside hitter helped Southfield Christian to its third straight Division 4 Regional title with 15 kills and 10 digs against Allen Park Inter-City Baptist in the Semifinal and 20 kills in the championship match against Marine City Cardinal Mooney to earn the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.” The Eagles’ tournament run came to an end in a Thursday Semifinal loss to Mendon, and Van Dyke will graduate as her school’s record holder in a variety of categories including career kills, digs and aces.

Van Dyke joined the varsity as a freshman, and the team’s Regional title in 2017 and Semifinal trip in 2018 both were program firsts. She finished this season with 556 kills, 349 digs and 46 aces, and finished her career with 1,641 kills, 1,357 digs and 282 aces – the career kills and aces qualifying for the MHSAA record book. She nearly reached her school single-match record of 32 kills in the Semifinal, tallying 31 along with 16 digs as the Eagles lost a five-set heart-breaker to the reigning Division 4 champion Hornets. Southfield Christian finished the season 29-8-4 and went 111-34-12 over her four seasons with one league (this season) and four District titles to go with the three Regional championships.

The Eagles enjoyed a rare but beneficial setup this fall as Van Dyke was joined by five more seniors in the starting lineup, with the team’s other four players all sophomores. She’s grown up with volleyball – her parents both played at the college level, and her father Mike Van Dyke is Southfield Christian’s coach. After making the Division 4 all-state second team as a sophomore and first team as a junior, Emily likely is in line for another high honor this fall – and she also signed last week with Division I Abilene Christian University in Texas. She carries a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to study one of the sciences.

Coach (and dad) Mike Van Dyke said: “It’s good and bad (to be coach and Dad), because she ends up getting coached at practice and coached at home. Her mom and I both played volleyball in college, so she got a lot of feedback early and throughout her volleyball (development). … (But I’m most impressed by) just her willingness to be coached and to learn – she keeps working to improve her game. She still hasn’t plateaued. She gets better and better. We’re excited to see her playing in college.”

Performance Point: “It was a lot of pressure on the team, being six seniors. But we prepared and we did our absolute best coming up to today,” Emily Van Dyke said after Thursday’s Semifinal. “This year, I’ve been focusing on how to be a better leader. It’s not about your words; it’s about your actions. So whether I’m doing my best to get a kill or going up every time to get a block, (it’s) just anything I can do to contribute to them and bring everybody up.”

They bring me up too: “(I’ll remember) all the crazy things our team has done or gotten into. I love each of them individually. And I would never be here playing volleyball at this level if it wasn’t for them.”

Dad’s known best: “Sometimes it’s been a little rough (with him as coach too), but I wouldn’t pick a different coach in the world. I loved playing for him, and it’s really been a blast. I’ve loved all four years of high school volleyball.”

Texas, here I come: “It’s a long story, but our JV coach is from Texas, and she said, ‘You would love Texas; just look.’ So I started looking at schools everywhere, and then I found a couple in Texas I was interested in. So that’s how I ended up getting there – (and) Abilene just connected with me. I’m so excited to go down and keep playing volleyball.”

Thank you Eagles: “I think I’m going to miss the connection I have with all the players. Most of them I have in lots of my classes, so we’re friends outside of just the sport. … I wouldn’t trade this moment for the world. I’m so proud of my team.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Past honorees

Nov. 14: Taylor Wegener, Ida volleyball - Report
Nov. 7:
Carter Solomon, Plymouth cross country - Report
Oct. 31: 
Jameson Goorman, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Oct. 24:
Austin Plotkin, Brimley cross country
- Report
Oct. 17:
Jack Spamer, Brighton cross country - Report
Oct. 10:
Kaylee Maat, Hudsonville volleyball - Report
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) Southfield Christian’s Emily Van Dyke winds up for a kill attempt during last week’s Division 4 Regional Final win over Marine City Cardinal Mooney. (Middle) Van Dyke works for a point during the Regional Semifinal against Allen Park Inter-City Baptist. (Photos by Dave Veldman/Southfield Christian.)

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.)