Ishpeming standouts sign to Bay College

ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – On Friday morning, three Ishpeming seniors made their future plans official as they signed on to continue their athletic careers at Bay College.

“Since I started playing, I planned on playing through college,” said Jenna Maki, who signed to play basketball for the Norse. “In my head, from the beginning, it wasn’t really a choice. I wanted to play in college, I knew I was going to do it.”

“I’m really excited to challenge myself,” said Kadie Kaukola, who will also be playing basketball for Bay. “All these girls have played high school ball and they’re there for a reason. I’m excited to challenge myself to work every day and just get better playing against girls that are there for the same reason.”

“My coach Katherine Beerling through high school really supported me throughout all of my seasons, so she’s really helped me get better and it’s exciting for me. But to see the support come out today, I was like, ‘Everybody is behind my back on this decision,” said Addison Morton, who will be playing volleyball for the Norse.

Along with their skills, the new commits will bring accolades to Bay as multi-sport athletes in high school, most recently with all three being a part of Ishpeming’s state championship in girl’s basketball.

“Being able to be with them for so many years since I first got here, knowing that it all worked out, I’m just happy to see that results are rewarded,” said Ishpeming Girls Basketball Head Coach Ryan Reichel. “As a coach, you’re proud when this kind of stuff happens.”

“It’s just a huge thing to go on after high school and play athletics in college arenas and get that experience,” said Ishpeming Volleyball Head Coach Katherine Beerling. “And I’m just very proud of all of them, especially my girls. And, you know, Jenna, she wasn’t mine, but she helped support my girls, so I’m very excited. I’ll be at some of the games, hopefully, and get to experience it along the way.”

Going away for college, but remaining within reach of the community that’s shown them support during their time as Hematites is an added plus, and could help bring some new Norse fans along with them. But, more than anything, they’re ready to continue developing and competing at the next level.

“I finished my season with a district final, and I was like ‘I’m not ready to finish. I’m not ready to quit this sport yet’,” said Morton. “So, being able to go on to the college level is just really exciting for me. A new experience, I’ll get to meet new people. So, I’m just happy that I made the decision to commit and excited to see what the future brings.”

I think it’s pretty nice in the middle.You know, because I was debating going further away or staying up here for a while. Being an hour away I’ll still get my family down there or if people want to come support. But also get to be away from home a little bit. That’s going to be great for me. I’m just excited to see more talent, you know? Not just in the U.P. or downstate. I’m excited to get out and see the rest of it.

“Being in Ishpeming, this community, it is unlike any other,” said Kaukola. “And the support and the love that we get, like we saw going downstate. It’s unlike any other, and I’m so glad to still be a part of that and continue on.”

“The community rallies around everybody and are their biggest supporters. I mean, we just had a celebration for the basketball championship and the community was there,” said Beerling. “I mean, the Breslin Center was 7.5 hours away, and we had the biggest community support in the entire state. It just goes to show that the Hematite Nation is a proud nation. And we love everybody that’s part of it, and it’s really exciting to be part of that.”

“The hard work is being rewarded,” Reichel said. “For them to be honored today, to be able to get their signing done is important for the program, for our district, and these kids to show that the hard work does pay. I’m excited just to know that they’re only going to be 50 miles away, so I can go and watch all of them at the next level.”

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