Coppin State senior Miajavon Coleman is a leader and handles the way her teammates all look up to her with grace, according to Eagle volleyball coach Tim Walsh.
Miajavon’s father, Robert, said his oldest daughter has wisdom beyond her years.
“She has been on this earth before, as they say,” Robert Coleman said.
Miajavon (ME-Ah-ja-von, “Mimi” to those close to her) doesn’t really have time to sort through those kind thoughts. She’s too busy pursuing degrees in chemistry and biology, eying medical school, while also leading a volleyball revival at Coppin as an All-MEAC outside hitter.
“We all knew we had the talent here, we just had to find the heart and grit to go with it,” Coleman said of the Eagles taking wing. “It’s something we’ve been harping on as a team. We love each other off the court and we just had to transfer that on the court and to finishing games.”
After 33 years, the Eagles soared to their first winning record and regular-season MEAC crown last spring and they were hovering around .500 through a tough early-season, nonconference schedule this fall. This past weekend, Coppin State split a rugged MEAC road trip, sweeping South Carolina State Sept. 24 and dropping a five-set decision at North Carolina Central Sept. 26. Now 7-7, MEAC preseason favorite Coppin is back in Baltimore at Morgan State Oct. 1.
Walsh, who took over the program in 2017 to get the ball rolling, knew he had something special when he landed Coleman in his first recruiting class.
“I remember exactly where I was sitting on my couch when I watched her [high school] film,” Walsh said. “And I looked at my wife and said, ‘If we get her, we’re going to be really, really good in a couple of years.'”
With Coleman in the Eagles’ nest — all the way from San Antonio, Texas — the team has taken off. From 12 victories in 2018 to 13 in 2019 to 11 and the MEAC regular-season title in a COVID-shortened spring 2021 campaign, now the Eagles could set a school record for victories in the fall of 2021. Coleman has been at the very heart of the newfound success, not only with her play but with her attitude.
“She’s very Type-A, she sets a goal, and she wants to accomplish it,” her coach said. “She’s hard-working, determined, smart, mature and willing to put in the work. She’s not scared to ask questions and invest. She wants to push herself and get to the highest level.”
Coleman liked what she found on her visit to Coppin State during recruitment in 2017. She chose the Eagles and Walsh over some Division I schools in Texas and over Howard. She leaned toward HBCU schools and liked the size and family feel at Coppin.
“It’s pretty small, which I like, and I like how you walk around campus, and everyone knows you and what you do for the school,” she said. “The family atmosphere drew me, and Coach explained to me what he wanted me to do for the program.
“It took time to realize what my teammates and I can do. We can turn this program around.”
Well-Traveled, Now Well-Decorated
Coleman is certainly holding up her end. She was MEAC Rookie of the Year and second-team all-conference as a freshman in 2018. She was first-team All-MEAC in 2019 and again last season, leading the conference with 196 kills. This year, she is again leading the conference with 3.77 kills per set and ranks seventh overall with 3.35 digs. Coleman already has more than 1,000 career kills and 500 all-time digs. She will shatter Cindy Okpegbue’s school record of 1,252 career kills, likely this season.
Coleman could set a lot of Eagle records because she is coming back next year, too, using her extra year under the NCAA’s COVID exemptions to finish off a minor in psychology. She has already finished requirements for a chemistry degree and is working on biology now. After graduation, she wants to attend medical school with hopes of becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN).
Coleman has been driven since she was a young “Air Force brat” moving all over the country and even to other countries. Her father’s Air Force career had her living in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Japan (twice), so traveling 1,600 miles to attend college wasn’t a big deal.
“My mom has told me I’ve always been that,” she said. “I used to write books and stories when I was 8 years old, and I think I’ve always had a vision or a goal of what’s next. I’m very analytical. I love lists and if I can visualize what’s next, I can prepare for how to get there.”
Speaking of visualization, Mimi and younger sister Ahzhalon, now a freshman middle hitter at Coppin State, have a little help in that regard. Their father, a former wide receiver for Division II Sacramento State football, spends time searching out videos on the internet of upcoming opponents and providing his daughters with a scouting report.
“I’ll tell them things like, ‘Hit it at No. 3, she’s not very good,'” Robert Coleman laughed. “I watch [my daughters’] tape, too, and try to help them with tips, just telling them to jump higher on some of their attempts, things like that.”
The four Colemans, including mother Lashuna, are a close-knit group, forged together in all that travel, typically every four years to a new home. Now the sisters are together again in Baltimore as roommates. Ahzhi is off to a fast start on the court, too, playing in every match so far. She is 10th in the conference in hitting percentage.
This is the first time the Coleman sisters have played on the same team, and Mimi is having a blast, teaming with Ahzhi on the court and showing her the things she loves about Coppin and Baltimore.
“We’re close and this is just fun,” said Mimi, who didn’t actively recruit her sister as to let her make up her own mind. “Walsh did that on his own. I told her if she came here, I’d support her but if she went somewhere else, I’d support her there, too. For the same reasons I did, she came here and I just said, ‘Come on, let’s do this.'”
Mimi was born in Japan, and it was there that she was introduced to volleyball when she was 12 years old. It was a late start in the game at a local youth center, but she stood out for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that she had a natural aptitude for the sport. It has been nothing but net gains ever since.
Her game blossomed back in the States as did a definitive bent toward spontaneity. A self-professed “foodie,” she’s up to try anything in a culinary setting, and that has been one of the many pleasures for her in Charm City. Her tastes are as versatile as her skills on the court. She likes Mexican, Thai and sushi the most but loves to try new things.
“I love any adventure, I love spontaneity,” she said. “It’s a contrast to my analytical side but that’s what keeps me grounded. You have to have balance.”
Coleman brings that balance and a whole lot more to Coppin State volleyball. And she just keeps grounding volleyballs on the other side of the net.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Coppin State Athletics and TagTheShooter Photography