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Hot Seat: Hart All-American high jumper has big goals in track and basketball

After wildy successful sophomore track season, Pirates junior Addi Hovey considering dual-sporting in college.

HART — Nobody in Hart seems surprised by the new heights and achievements that Addi Hovey continues to add to her growing resume.

Sometimes, however, Hovey surprises herself. Until her remarkable sophomore track and field season last spring, when she became an All-American in high jump and helped power Hart to a second straight MHSAA Division 3 team state title, Hovey never really considered the sport in her college plans.

During the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division meet last May at Holton, the 5-foot-10 Hovey soared to 5-11 in high jump. The mark ranked her fifth nationally at the time for the 2023 season, according to Her personal record prior to that meet was 5-5 1/2 before she cleared 5-6 followed by 5-11.

Hovey received an invite to the New Balance Nationals last summer, where she placed 19th at 5-4 1/2.

“I was there when she high jumped 5-11 …,” Hart junior LexieBeth Nienhuis recalled, still in astonishment almost a year later. “It was a crazy experience. None of us were expecting it because her PR previously was like 5-6, 5-7 (in that same meet). So 5-11 is a huge jump. It just shows how much potential she has.”

Those who know the Hoveys understand that basketball is a family passion.

The third of Staci and Jeff Hovey’s four children, Addi Hovey, 17, was an Associated Press Division 3 first-team all-stater during the 2022-23 baskettball season when she helped the Pirates make a memorable run to the state semifinals at the Breslin Center en route to a 24-4 record.

This basketball season, Hovey averaged 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.5 steals from the wing in leading Hart to a 17-6 overall record and another unbeaten run through the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division. A three-year varsity starter, she’s reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career.

Hovey stays plenty busy these days, playing travel ball on weekends and in the offseason with MBA Basketball, an Under Armor-sponsored organization based in Grand Rapids.

Photo by Courtney Jimison | CatchMark

Hovey warmed up more to track and field after her wild success last year. At the 2023 state finals, she won high jump (5-4), placed third in the 100-meter dash (12.53 seconds), and ran legs on third-place 4×100 and seventh-place 4×200 relay teams in earning all-state accolades in four events.

Hart track coach Calvin Ackley believes that Hovey is more refined in basketball, while she’s still “green” in track and field, which might suggest a higher upside in the latter.

“I’m not a basketball expert, so I can’t speak to that. Obviously my bias as a track coach, I’m very confident and so is coach (Ken) Kimes that she has a greater potential in track and field because of her athleticism,” said Ackley, who noted that basketball is a more saturated sport than track and field.

“She has physical attributes — long jump, high jump — to do power things and she also has speed. She ran middle-school cross country. She didn’t like that, but that’s OK. She has the ability. I really think Division I colleges that have had interest in her, I think, are interested in her high jump and her sprints. Honestly, I think a place would want to get her into a multi-(event), like a heptathlon. If she were to do that, she could have a great ceiling, really.”

Hovey, who carries a 3.7 GPA and is considering becoming a veterinary technician for a career, said she wants to play basketball in college but she’s strongly considering track and field now as well.

Among her collegiate opportunities, Hovey has received basketball and track offers from Division II Ferris State University as well as a basketball offer from Indiana Wesleyan University, an NAIA school where older sister Jayd is playing.

In track and field, she has drawn interest from big-time Division I in-state programs University of Michigan and Michigan State University and made visits to those schools. She’s also visited for track the likes of Grand Valley State University, Davenport University, Indiana Wesleyan, and Hillsdale College.

Hovey has not let the attention get to her head, however.

“Addi’s just the greatest,” Nienhuis said. “You can always see her standing on the side, she’s always there to cheer for you or give you a hug at the end of your race. We have opposite events, but even then she takes time to come out and cheer us on. It’s pretty great.”

Photos by CatchMark

Hovey and classmate Jessica Jazwinski, an All-American in her own right as a runner, carried a heavy load for Hart in last year’s second straight team state championship.

Ackley said that while the Pirates have some depth again, they’ll need Hovey and Jazwinski to be primary point-getters in order to seize a third consecutive team state title. Good news is, in addition to their talents, Hovey and Jazwinski are among the hardest workers on the team.

Hovey was born with natural gifts, especially in quick-twitch areas of running and jumping, but she’s logged hours upon hours of work.

“She’s wild. She’s always one of the earliest to get there and the latest to stay,” Nienhuis said. “She’s always putting in so much more work than a lot of the other teammates. She’s just a great athlete and works really hard to get where she is.

“Natural ability is a huge thing. She’s tall and gifted, so that plays a big part, but she’s also one of the people that’s been in the weight room, trying to be more explosive. She’s always doing the drills that people think are silly but obviously they work for her and they’ve worked for other people as well.”

In the early going this season, Hovey has posted solid marks in her primary events: High jump (5-4), 100 dash (12.66), and 200 dash (26.79), and even long jump (14-8).

At this point, and even throughout most of the spring, Ackley is not overly concerned with winning too many meets. Experimentation and hard work are the focal points.

Above all else is team culture. Developing that is most important, according to Ackley, as the Pirates aim to peak in time for the June 1 state finals at Kent City.

Hovey checks all the boxes that Ackley has laid out for his team. He sees growth in her all the time.

“She’s definitely getting more confidence (in interviews and being in the spotlight),” he said. “Fun to watch some of the star athletes I’ve had over the years go from timid and quiet (to confident). Sports helps in life.”

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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