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Beckett, Newingham Honored With Norris Award

EAST LANSING, Mich. - May 11 - The first co-winners of the Michigan High School Athletic Association's Vern L. Norris Award were honored by the Association at its 21st Annual Officials' Awards and Alumni Banquet Saturday evening, May 13, at the Sheraton Lansing Hotel. This year's recipients are Barb Beckett of Traverse City and Karl Newingham of Bay City. The two are shown at right with MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts (far left) and past MHSAA Executive Director Vern Norris (right), for whom the award is named.

Beckett, the first female to win the award, has been a registered official in basketball and softball. She is president of the Northern Sports Officials Association, of which she has been a member for the last 14 years.

Beckett was the first woman ever to officiate an MHSAA Boys Basketball Final, calling the 1995 Class C game between Ishpeming and Lakeview. In addition to that assignment, she also has worked MHSAA Softball Semifinals and Finals in 1990 and 1996, and Girls Basketball Finals in 1996 and 1999. She served as umpire in chief at the 1998 and 1999 MHSAA Softball Finals, and has worked the MHSAA Softball Quarterfinals for the last eight years. On the hardwood, she has officiated several boys and girls basketball semifinals during the 1990s.

An active community leader in the Traverse City area, Beckett has organized various recreational leagues, including the second-largest YMCA Pop Warner football league in the Midwest with 1,500 players. She also expanded a three-team women's basketball league into a 16-team league, and developed women's and co-ed softball league in Traverse City.

The District 19 Michigan Amateur Softball Association Commissioner since 1992, Beckett has been instrumental in hosting four women's state finals and one co-ed final.

A 1971 graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School and a 1973 grad of Northwestern Michigan College, Beckett is the program director for the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA.

Newingham's officiating career has now spanned parts of five decades, having first registered with the MHSAA in 1963. The 33-year veteran of officiating has worked football, basketball, volleyball and softball.

The executive secretary of the Tri-Valley Conference and the Bay Metro Officials Association since 1979, Newingham was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 1993.
He has worked four MHSAA Football Finals (1985, 1990, 1995, 1999); two MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals (1985, 1986); two MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals (1985, 1986), one MHSAA Softball Final (1995); and one MHSAA Lower Peninsula Girls Volleyball Final (1997).

A 1955 graduate of Mio High School, Newingham has been active in the Bay City area ever since graduating from Bay City Community College in 1957. He annually volunteers time for United Way campaigns; assists with and officiates Special Olympics events; served on the Essexville Hampton Board of Education for 12 years; worked the Can-American Games in 1994, and has been active on the Bangor Township Board of Review since 1994.

The Norris Award is presented annually to a veteran official who has been active in a local officials association, has mentored other officials, and has been involved in officials education. It is named for Vern L. Norris, who was executive director of the MHSAA from 1978-86, and well-respected by officials on the state and national levels.

Previous recipients of the Norris Award are:

1992 - Ted Wilson, East Detroit
1993 - Fred Briggs, Burton
1994 - Joe Brodie, Flat Rock
1995 - Jim Massar, Flint
1996 - Jim Lamoreaux, St. Ignace
1997 - Ken Myllyla, Escanaba
1998 - Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo
1999 - Richard Kalahar, Jackson

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,300 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments conducted in 12 sports for girls and 12 sports for boys which attract approximately 1.3 million spectators each year.