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By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Former Center Grove High School basketball standout Jonny Marlin’s path to coaching was not driven totally by the sport that he loves.
Marlin was a guard on the 2012 sectional championship team from Center Grove and then played at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne before helping lead Indiana Wesleyan University to the NAIA Division II national championship in 2016.
Early last month he was named by Greenwood Christian Academy athletic director Dan Carmichael to follow Jamie Satre as boys basketball coach. Satre had a 103-156 record in 12 seasons and guided the Cougars to the 2014 Martinsville Regional championship game.
Marlin is home because of his faith and belief in Christ.
“I can talk freely about my faith and still be dedicated to my passion for basketball,” Marlin said. “This is my calling.”
His faith journey is as interesting as his basketball career. His parents, Tony and Stacy Marlin, nurtured a belief that has carried him through all his school days and athletic career.
Marlin grew up at the nondenominational Stones Crossing Church. He attributed his spiritual maturity to attending church youth group meetings. He praised an accountability group for continual guidance through his high school years.
Older brother Christopher Marlin is a pastor at a church in Las Vegas.
Jonny Marlin’s spiritual maturity reached a higher level when he went on missionary trips to the Dominican Republic during his two years at Indiana Wesleyan. He helped dig and build a 12-by-12-foot cistern well during his first missionary trip and returned during his senior year to clear out a large pasture for sports fields.
He sheepishly regretted that he did not go to IWU for his first two years in college.
His basketball journeys enabled him to display his athletic skills for two different teams before finding a home at IWU. His senior year he was named the NAIA Division II championship game’s Most Valuable Player.
“I love the game and the two years I had at Wesleyan were the most fun years I ever had playing basketball,” Marlin said. “My experiences there were valuable in so many ways.”
As GCA’s new coach, Marlin has met with the Cougars several times. He understands a growing athletic program there.
“My coaching style will be one of positive encouragement,” he said. “I will always be there to let each player know how they can improve. I won’t do it by yelling – I will encourage them in a positive way.”
Marlin’s personal life also is on the rise. He is engaged to Emily Karnes, and they will be married in late June.
He and former CGHS teammate Ben Whitehead operate Jmar Handles, a basketball training facility for players 6 years old to adult.
Former IU star and NBA player Yogi Ferrell and former IU players Will Sheedy and Jason Hulls are among clients plus selected athletes from the University of Indianapolis, Butler and IU.
“We are really blessed with the business,” Marlin said. ‘It kind of took off by itself.”