Marquette's athletic successes have provided Blazer fans with a few scrapbooks worth of indelible memories. Volleyball spent the entire 2000s running roughshod over its competition en route to a historic nine titles. Basketball carried the torch in the 2010s, earning three state championships and a runner-up.
Behind the scenes, vice principal/director of athletics Katie Collignon has taken a calculated approach to reuniting members of those championship teams to their current programs.
This past summer, Colleen (Wall) Lane '02 was introduced as assistant volleyball coach to revive a winning tradition. This winter, Jaylen Jemison '13, and JoVonte Peals '15 have joined Caleb Carnes '16 as basketball alumni who have swapped the Jordans for whistles.
Jemison transferred to Marquette from Michigan City in 2011. He represented the Blazers on the basketball court both his years on 10th Street. The Indiana State University graduate has witnessed a noticeable shift on campus since his time as a student.
"You can see the changes. Every kid has an iPad so they can read and study any time they want. When I was here, we had to return laptops at the end of the day. On the basketball side, the growth of the girls' program has really stood out, starting with the (Emma and Sophia) Nolan twins to where it is today," he said.
Jemison's passion for athletics is all-encompassing.
Beginning in August, he served as head cross country coach. It was a coaching position well-suited for his energy and buoyant personality. Furthermore, it made a distance runner out of the recreation and sports management major. During the early stages of the season, Jemison would keep up with the team on their practice routes via bicycle. By season's end, he was running several miles down Lake Shore Drive alongside his runners.
His first love, though, budded from the bowling alley. Jemison spends much of his Sunday afternoons at City Lanes competing in a league with his father, Samuel. An ornery 10-pin was the only thing that kept Jemison from a perfect game just a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, a high game of 278 shows substantial skill.
Bowling isn't the only family affair for Jemison. His brothers, Vaunte and Sam Johnson have followed in Jaylen's footsteps on the basketball court. Vaunte graduated from Marquette in 2020 and signed with Bethel. Sam, a junior, is in his second season on a youth-laden Blazer basketball team.
Though Jaylen and Sam are affiliated with different squads - Jaylen a coach with the girls, and Sam a guard on the boys team - their paths frequently cross in the Scholl Center. It presents an opportunity for Jemison to share foresight and perspective with his younger brothers.
"I feel like our relationship grew. I can see from their eyes what's going on and I can help them choose the right paths," Jemison observed.
Jemison joins head girls basketball coach Katie Collignon's staff just as Carnes, a fellow recent alumnus, migrates to the boys side.
Carnes, who will now serve on first-year head coach Ray Tarnow's coaching staff, holds the rare distinction of owner of two state championship rings: one as a player on the 2014 championship club, the other as an assistant coach on the girls' 2019 title team.
Following two trips to Indianapolis as a Blazer, Carnes attended College of Central Florida, where he continued his basketball and academic careers. He counts former assistant basketball coach Tommy Wilson and principal Allyson Headd as his more prominent influences at Marquette.
Next Saturday's season opener versus Michigan City has Carnes longing for yesteryear.
"I definitely wish we had them on our schedule while I was there," he said.
He also lauds the addition of some academic programs that Marquette has added since his graduation, opportunities the former post player would have relished as a pupil. Nevertheless, he echoes Jemison's musings on perspective and the speed of the game.
"If I could've had the coach's point of view from the outside looking in, it would've really slowed things down and improved my game," Carnes remarked.
While the game means a great deal to Carnes, his long-term goals reside higher than the basketball hoop.
"I want to finish school and get into a career that I'm passionate about, and I want to be in the best shape of my life so I can be the best father and husband to my family (Desiree and Emersyn)," Carnes added.
Another star of the 2014 state championship club will be seated alongside Carnes on the bench this winter as Peals, a 2015 graduate, is onboard in a volunteer capacity.
It's a reunion that has the soft-spoken, pleasant Peals glowing.
"It's fun to be around him (Carnes). We've known each other since we were little kids. It's a blessing, really," Peals beamed.
His tried-and-true advice for the current crop of Blazers was reinforced after playing stints at Kishwaukee College and, later, Loras College.
"Grind and hard work, honestly. When I came in (as a freshman at Marquette), I wasn't able to do a lot of things many other kids were doing, but I kept working at it. Hard work pays off in the end," Peals stated.
He recalls a number of mentors, many of whom are still sharing lessons to this day.
"Coach (Jordan) Gallas, Joe Bobillo, Cliff Levingston. I look up to those guys and still keep in touch with them. I'm thankful for them and I'm thankful to Donovan (Garletts) for the opportunity that was given to me to play here," Peals remarked.
Coach Peals is already bridging the gap between his era and the 2020-21 Blazers. It's a different generation, he notes, but he's learning the elusive art of patience.
"There's a lot of talent here and they're young. This team has a good chance of making it pretty far in the postseason," he said.
By linking its past to its present, Collignon hopes history will repeat itself. As longtime Marquette fans can attest, that would be a great thing.