'Mailloux Management' Goes Global

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 17, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Leslie (Barnhart) Mailloux graduated from Ogemaw Heights High School in 1999 and since has lived in New Mexico, Texas and Ohio twice.

She’s traveled to parts of Africa and Europe multiple times, plus Haiti, with a voyage to Switzerland planned for next month.

She’s served as a supervisor in a foreign exchange program, mentoring students as they make adjustments to living in the U.S. 

Needless to say, Mailloux has gained plenty of worldly knowledge since becoming an MHSAA Scholar-Athlete Award winner as a high school senior in 1999.

“It was good to get out of the small-town America, meeting people of all walks of life,” Mailloux said. “People are different, but we’re all doing the same things: having families, working. We just do it differently.

“We’re all different, but we’re all the same. We’re on this planet for a reason ... and we can learn from each other.”

A three-sport athlete – who played volleyball, basketball and soccer – Mailloux (pronounced May-you) was one of 24 scholar-athletes recognized during the winter of 1999 by the MHSAA and Farm Bureau Insurance, which continues to sponsor the Scholar-Athlete Award program that has grown to 32 recipients. In advance of this March’s 25th celebration, Second Half is catching up with some of the hundreds who have been recognized.

Leaving home

Mailloux, now 32, met her husband Logan while earning a degree in architecture at Southfield’s Lawrence Technological University.

Logan grew up in Farmington Hills and when they met told Leslie he never wanted to leave Michigan. But that was before he joined the Air Force and ascended to the rank of major, which led to the family's moving to the southwest and now back to the Dayton, Ohio, area for the second time. 

When Leslie and Logan moved to New Mexico, she had initial thoughts they’d landed in a ugly desert. But they fell in love with their new home: “You learn to appreciate different kinds of beauty. Fountains, blue skies, you appreciate the creation,” she said. “You really have to keep your eyes open.”

While in New Mexico, Mailloux found a way to mix working abroad with an opportunity to become involved in that community. Through a posting on Craig’s List she landed with the Council of International Education Exchange, a program that specializes in study abroad. As a coordinator for the CIEE, she helped foreign students “make the jump” to living here while providing them support and mentoring.

She also has managed to stay active athletically, playing volleyball competitively including on two teams that have advanced to USAV national tournaments. And she has passed on the lessons she's learned on the court and field during two high school coaching stops, including as the varsity head coach at Dayton Christian High School during the couple's first stop in Ohio. 

“Hard work does pay off,” Mailloux said of her coaching focus. “Obviously (my players) had some God-given talent; some had a lot of talent and some a little. But with hard work they could be good, whether it’s in a sport, career or school. If you work hard, you’ll succeed.”

Traveling abroad

Mailloux no doubt has seen plenty as well during her international travels, including the mission trip she took to Haiti while in college. But her favorite excursion surely came a little more than three years ago, when Mailloux and her husband journeyed to Ethiopia to bring home their adopted twin sons.

Leslie had hoped to adopt siblings and was drawn to Ethiopia with a sister living there at the time. After some prayerful consideration, she and Logan began a two-year process that led to then 6-month-old boys Nathan and Issac becoming part of Mailloux family.

“Finally having the babies in our arms that God wanted us to have, it was a beautiful moment,” Mailloux said.

Her sons “are all boys, 250 percent," and keep her running around most of the day – Mailloux calls that fulltime job “Mailloux Management.” But she also does contract residential design work for Archetype Designs, a firm based in Texas.

She wasn’t alone among family members who journeyed far from home. In addition to her sister who lived in Ethiopia for three years, another sister plus her brother both moved to Seattle.

The sister in Seattle has moved back to Michigan, and the Maillouxs now are only six hours from West Branch. It could be only a matter of time before Leslie and Logan consider making good on his original desire to stay close to home now that they've experienced so much in this country and abroad.

“When it’s your roots, it’s still in your blood,” Leslie said. “We still love Michigan.”

Click to read the series' first installments: 

PHOTO: Ogemaw Heights' Leslie Barnhart (middle) poses with her Scholar-Athlete Award next to Larry Thomas (left), the then-executive vice president of Farm Bureau Insurance, and MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts. 

Performance of the Week: St. Johns' Isabel Thelen

May 23, 2024

Isabel Thelen headshotIsabel Thelen ♦ St. Johns
Senior ♦ Tennis

Playing as part of St. Johns’ singles lineup for the fourth season – and at No. 1 singles for the second straight – Thelen will bring a 22-1 record into next weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University. Thelen won her Regional last week, giving up only five games total in sweeping all three matches that day while also helping the Redwings finish runner-up to advance to the Finals as a team.

All of Thelen’s wins this spring have come in two sets, and her only loss was to Battle Creek Lakeview’s Maddy Simonds, who will be playing in the Division 2 Finals next weekend. Thelen also claimed the No. 1 singles championship at the Capital Area Activities Conference Red Tournament on Tuesday, winning both matches 6-0, 6-0. She’s a combined 91-10 during her high school career, and she also capped her basketball career this winter earning all-area and all-league honors. She will study next at Lansing Community College, possibly health sciences.

@mhsaasports 🎾POW: Isabel Thelen #tennis #stjohns #letsgo #champion #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🎾POW: Isabel Thelen #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #culvers #cat #airheadextreme #night #sand #beach #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

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Past 2023-24 Honorees

May 16: Ally Katinas, Novi lacrosse - Report
May 9:
Peter Roehl, Rochester Adams - Report
May 2:
Lilah Smith, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Report
April 25:
Mason Mayne, Lawton track & field - Report
April 18:
Alli Wright, Jenison softball - Report
April 11:
Chloe Wishart, Trenton soccer - Report
March 28:
Jenna Maki, Ishpeming basketball - Report
March 22:
Jaremiah Palmer, Niles Brandywine basketball - Report
March 15:
Leah Hodge, North Farmington gymnastics - Report
March 8:
Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Action photo by Alex Parsons; headshot by Iryshe Photography.)