Don’t be deceived by the seemingly perpetual cheerful mood of Franklin Community sophomore Isabell Mahin.
A 5-foot-7 outside hitter for the Grizzly Cubs’ volleyball team, Mahin doesn’t exactly lack a competitive streak.
It’s demonstrated in the classroom, where Mahin maintains a 4.1 grade-point average. It shows up on the court, where she is at or near the top of a number of statistical categories for the Grizzly Cubs.
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All with a smile she said was handed down.
“I love to be happy. I don’t know, I just always am,” Mahin said with a laugh. “My mom’s always happy. She picks me up from school, she’s happy. She wakes me up in the morning, she’s happy.
“When I play, there are some times I get a little frustrated, but it’s more frustration with myself. My competitive spirit just comes out. Even when I play something like a board game, I get competitive really fast.”
A love of all things volleyball also comes from Mahin’s mother, who as Alisha Mitro was part of the Muncie Burris High School volleyball dynasty.
Mitro, a 5-8 outside hitter, went on to play at Purdue University from 1990-93, racking up 900 career kills, 143 blocks and taking home her team’s Most Valuable Player honor as a senior.
As a freshman, Mahin was fifth on the team in kills (110), sixth in both digs (79) and aces (20).
It was a season of learning. And growing.
“Last season was a shock. The game was a lot faster than the volleyball I’ve been used to,” Mahin said. “It was interesting because I really didn’t know any of the girls, so I was making a transition from knowing everybody I played with to not knowing anybody.
“Just making those friendships with people has made me so much closer with my teammates. It helps with accountability and relying on each other. I am a lot more confident in my ability and being a leader on the court.”
Playing for her second head coach in as many years, Mahin is now firmly established as one of the program’s best players and leaders.
She produced 13 kills in the Grizzly Cubs’ conquest of Perry Meridian and again in their Mid-State Conference victory against Decatur Central. Mahin’s season high of 17 digs came in the season opener, a 3-0 sweep of Shelbyville.
“Isabell is very positive. Very coachable. Always has a smile on her face,” said first-year Grizzly Cubs coach Roxanne Chapman, whose squad takes an 8-3 record into Tuesday’s match at Whiteland.
“For me, she’s a really good back-row player but is good enough to play outside because she puts so much power on the ball. I could definitely see Isabell being a back-row player in college.”
Such days are a long way off.
For Mahin and the Grizzly Cubs, the next two and a half volleyball seasons promise no shortage of spikes, service aces and, yes, smiles.
“Volleyball is fast. Every play somebody scores a point, and then you have a few seconds after you win the point to celebrate. The bringing of your team together after every point and celebrate together, it makes a family,” Mahin said.
“Our team, we’re a family.”
THE MAHIN FILE
Name: Isabell Mahin
Family: Parents, Chris and Alisha; brother, Owen, 14; sister, Rose, 8
Favorite TV show: “Gilmore Girls”
Favorite food: Sweet potato fries
Favorite movie: “The Bow”
Favorite team: Yale University volleyball