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State title run helped define Centers, teammates

Mark Hazelwood • Oct 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final installment of a six-part series focusing on those who will be inducted into the St. Paul Hall of Fame tonight.

 

Jordan (Centers) Mayer just watched the 2002 Division IV state championship volleyball match for the first time this year.

There was never a big reason for Centers-Mayer to rewatch St. Paul’s thrilling, stressful and emotionally-draining win over Maria Stein Marion Local for the school’s first state championship volleyball trophy.

She lived it. After a three-sport career that included nine varsity letters, but most notably a record-breaking volleyball career, Mayer (2003 graduate) will be inducted into the St. Paul Hall of Fame tonight.

Being inducted with Mayer tonight will include the late Harvey Keller (distinguished), the late Charlie Roth, Mike Mushett (distinguished), Mike Gfell (athletic) and Bill Bader Jr. (distinguished).

Inductees were honored at halftime of Friday’s St. Paul football home game vs. Mapleton, with the induction ceremony slated for 5:30 p.m. today inside the Social Hall.

St. Paul entered the 2002 title match a perfect 28-0 overall and had not lost a set entering that championship match. But Marion Local stunned the Lady Flyers with a 15-9 win in the first set. However, St. Paul dug deep and won back-to-back thrillers to win the title, 15-13, 15-13.

"I actually just watched the match for the first time this year,” Mayer said. “I hadn't seen it since it had happened. It was amazing to go back and compare from what I remembered of the match to actually seeing it. We were challenged during the regular season, but not in a way where our backs were up against the wall like that.

“It really made us dig deep and come together as a team — and it really made winning that much sweeter, because we really had to dig deep and leave it all on the floor for every single point,” she added. “That was before rally scoring, and every serve back and forth ... just a really tense match and a lot of fun to look back, watch and relive those memories.”

But for Mayer, there was a bigger meaning to winning the state championship. Her senior class had put together three very strong seasons prior to 2002, but the program was unable to break through and win a district title to reach the regional round of 16.

"For my teammates and I, it was a very long time coming,” Mayer said. “We were lucky enough to grow up together and play together for a lot of years — but we felt like we had come up short leading up to that. We really had something to prove, and we had one goal — win the state championship. Every day at practice and every match we played was another step toward that goal.”

“I don't know if we could have ever imagined the season going the way it did with undefeated and no three set matches until the last one in dramatic fashion,” she added. “I think I can say anything less than a state title that year — we would have been disappointed somewhat. But we really stayed focused on what we wanted to accomplish and were able to do it."

But it wasn’t just volleyball in the accolades for Mayer, though she did graduate as the program’s record holder for kills in a match (25), season (289) and career (674). The two-time All-Ohioan (first team in 2002) also set new marks for blocks in a season (120) and career (316). But Mayer was also a National Honor Society member and the 2003 Class Valedictorian at St. Paul.

She was also a three-year letter winner in basketball and twice in softball. In basketball, she was a starter on the lone district championship team in St. Paul history (2000-01).

Mayer is also reflective and appreciative on her three-sport athlete high school career — a trend in high school sports not quite as common today.

"Our classmates and teammates, and some of the grades below us — we all just liked to play together,” Mayer said. “We all liked to work hard, but a lot of times it didn't feel like hard work because we just enjoyed playing together and being part of a team. I personally have my parents (Joe and Jody) to thank for allowing me to be a three-sport athlete.

“They made a lot of sacrifices for my sisters (Megan and Ryan) and I to even go to St. Paul and be multiple sport athletes,” she added. “It definitely wasn't easy on them as well. But they were always amazingly supportive of us participating in different sports and were our biggest cheerleaders along the way."

After high school, Mayer earned a full scholarship to Miami University in Oxford — making her one of the few St. Paul athletes to receive a Division I athletic scholarship. She transferred to Capital University near Columbus for her last two years, where she was a two-time All-OAC first-team selection and a two-time NCAA All-American (honorable mention/second team). Mayer helped lead the Crusaders to back-to-back Div. III NCAA tournament appearances.

She graduated from Capital in 2007, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in accounting. She’s been with Ernst & Young accounting firm for 11 years, and is currently an Audit senior manager, CPA licensed in Ohio and Illinois.

Also making the HOF special is knowing Mayer got to have sibling Megan as a teammate on the 2002 team, while Ryan also won a state title at St. Paul with the 2006 team. Also of note, her uncles, Chris and Mike Mushett were on the 1969 state championship poll football team.

"This is definitely a surprise and not something I was expecting, but I’m very honored,” Mayer said. “Just thinking back, I'm proud of what our team accomplished and what I personally accomplished playing for St. Paul. It's really fun to look back and also follow the teams playing today and seeing the success of the program is really great."

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