MUSKEGON — Things didn’t always go Jayce Allen’s way during his time as an Orchard View Cardinal. In fact, many times, things went awry for the hard-working young man affectionately nicknamed “Chew Chew.”
One thing you’ll quickly learn about Chew Chew, however: He just keeps plugging along. He’ll get up, dust himself off, keep grinding, keep smiling. He wears his emotions on his sleeve.
The final athletic contest as a Cardinal for the newly minted Orchard View High School alumnus encapsulated Allen’s sports experience: Some successes and some disappointments.
In Orchard View’s 11-2 loss to host Spring Lake in a Division 2 district opener Tuesday at Hickman Field, Allen showed quick reflexes by snagging a line shot from his third-base position and he exhibited patience at the plate by drawing a walk. On the flip side, he was picked off first base and struck out twice, including making the game-ending out.
It was an emotional finale for Allen, who was consoled by many of his teammates as he fought back tears.
He’d do anything for Orchard View and his teammates, and they’ve had his back as well. Across the board, from football to baseball, coaches speak highly of Allen, too.
Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
“Chew gives everything he’s got,” Orchard View baseball coach Alex Andrews said. “The best part about Chew is, he wants to get others better, too.”
Baseball is a game of failure, or disappointment, and overcoming it. Allen knows this very well, but he’s experienced it across all of his sports.
His sophomore football season in 2020 was impacted by COVID-19. The next year, Orchard View did not field a varsity football team because of a lack of numbers so Allen played with the junior varsity squad. In his senior football season, OV canceled the last three (of nine) games because of a lack of healthy bodies. That meant no senior night.
He missed a large part of his senior basketball season with a knee injury.
Victories were sparse in Allen’s three sports as a senior: Zero in football, two in basketball, three baseball. That never deterred him. If anything, setbacks continued to push him.
The 5-foot-9 1/2, 245-pounder, who graduated with a 3.3 GPA, will be continuing his academic and athletic pursuits at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, where he’ll play football.
“I’ve been (at Orchard View) my whole life. Definitely had ups and downs here, but I feel like you can’t win ’em all. Keep positive. It’s obviously taught me something in life that going to a small school, you’re going to make a lot of memories — going to each other’s houses and everything.
“You support other sports and everything. It’s just, OV’s my life and I’ve never thought about anything outside of OV.”
Allen has never had time to think about anything else — he’s so darn busy.
In addition to school, sports and taking photos for Orchard View’s yearbook committee, Allen has been working part-time at G&L Chili Dogs. (Speaking of food, Allen’s nickname comes from his mother, Janet Goodwin. She called him “Chew Chew” when he was younger because he was always eating.)
He also works the Winston Speedway race track in Rothbury. He’s raced at Winston and at Thunderbird Raceway.
When he’s not working, you may find him in a weight room. When he wasn’t playing, maybe because of injury, he was coaching or doing something to help his teams.
“I’m always busy. I like to keep busy — always find something new to do,” Allen said. “Always finding something new. Always have a Plan B just in case something goes wrong.”
Everything seemed to go right for Orchard View’s football team in 2019, when Allen and Andrews were actually teammates. That fall, the Cardinals finished with a 9-0 regular-season record.
Allen learned leadership attributes from a solid senior core that football season. Even though the wins didn’t continue to follow throughout his high school sports career, Chew Chew walked the walk and led through his actions.
Those traits are still apparent now.
“Chew is always up for giving people rides. His car is normally full — underclassmen kids who can’t make it to stuff. He just wants to see OV do good in all sports, whether he’s doing basketball or football or baseball,” Andrews said.
“But then I see Chew at track meets, I see Chew at wrestling meets, he goes to cross-country stuff. He’s just an OV guy. He just loves to be a part of the community and loves to be a helping hand with everyone.”
Despite finishing with a 3-27-2 overall record this spring, Orchard View’s baseball team never quit. That’s trait certainly makes Allen proud.
Next stop for Chew Chew will be Heidelberg. He’s still only 17 years old and will not turn 18 until late July — days before he leaves for Ohio.
Allen is more of an optimistic type, but even he had his doubts at one point about getting the chance to continue playing sports in college.
“Going into spring of my junior year, I didn’t think I was going to be able to play college football,” he said. “Just because of the fact (Orchard View is a) small school, varsity football got canceled (in 2021) so we ended up playing just a JV season. And then I think about my size, under 6 foot — thinking I wasn’t going to be make it at all. And then got a couple emails and then the summer came around and actually my birthday weekend (last July) I took my visit to Heidelberg and I was thrilled.”
It’s been a memorable ride for Chew Chew, who has made a name for himself at Orchard View.
It’s always tough to the ride come to an end, but Allen left it all out there.
“Coming into this game, I knew it was win or go home. Lose that and it’s the last time with the guys,” Allen said. “Me and these guys have been through a lot … . We’ve just bonded together a lot, spent a lot of time together.
“The bond is strong, so it was a lot of emotion. I’m just going to miss these guys a whole lot.”
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