Championship Team Builder Ingalls Named WISL Honoree
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 22, 2021
Krista Clement played for high-caliber basketball programs at St. Ignace High School and University of Michigan. Then, after a few years of teaching, she decided to start her own team.
In 2013, Clement founded Helper Helper – a digital platform that provides tracking and coordination for community service efforts across the country and counts the NCAA among partners.
At first, Clement’s team was a team of one – herself. But as she started to build the company, her thoughts turned to her high school coach Dorene Ingalls – one of the most successful team builders in MHSAA history.
“Although we aren’t playing basketball on the Helper team, so much of what I do was through what I’ve learned from Dorene’s leadership,” Clement said. “My attempt to create a culture on my team – similar to a Saints basketball team – has come from Dorene. I now find myself trying to connect with my team the way Dorene connected with me – making my teammates feel valued and inspired to put their best foot forward every day.”
Over the last 22 years, Ingalls has built one of the most respected high school basketball programs in Michigan and become one of the most successful coaches in MHSAA history. She also has been one of the state’s most impactful advocates for girls basketball, and a presence in her adopted hometown that literally earned her the title of “ambassador” from the local chamber of commerce.
To celebrate her many and continuing contributions, Ingalls has been named the 34th recipient of the MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Award, presented annually by the MHSAA’s Representative Council to “women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics.”
And as with Clement, those contributions continue impacting many long after graduation.
“To have the confidence to overcome when people say you can’t do something,” Ingalls said, boiling down what she’s hoped to pass on over two decades. “We still always are like the ‘Hoosiers’ coming down (to a state championship game) – we go with that flow a little bit. We’re not going under the radar too often, but usually we don’t have as many DI (college) people as the teams we play. We try to make sure (our athletes learn) that hard work, dedication, positive attitude and don’t ever give up, fight through your adversities and just keep going, keep going, keep going.
“I get letters from kids that went to boot camp that said, ‘Oh my gosh, the only way I survived this is because of our practices and our tryouts. All these other kids are stopping, and I keep going.’ … Other ones go on to be doctors and nurses in the field. That’s what it’s all about, when kids are fighting through stuff. If they have all-nighters, they can figure that out and they know they have that inner strength they haven’t tapped into yet, that willingness to keep going. I think that’s what high school sports are about – teaching them the skills they need in life, to fight through things, that you’re capable of more, you just have to sometimes dig deep, shake it off and step it on up. … It’s just kind of a thing that sticks with some of these kids, and when you see them or get invited to weddings or whatever, it has nothing to do with records or scoreboards. It’s continuing in their life, watching them have families and successes in careers – that’s when it’s fun.”
Ingalls has provided two decades of experiences on and off the court her Saints will never forget.
Through the end of this regular season, she has led the St. Ignace girls basketball varsity to a 464-80 record since taking over the program prior to the 1999 season. Her wins are the 18th-most among girls basketball coaches in MHSAA history, and she has led teams to five Finals championships and four runner-up finishes – or a championship game berth to conclude nearly half of those seasons as head coach. Her teams have reached at least the MHSAA Semifinals 11 times, and won 16 conference, 18 District and 14 Regional championships.
Ingalls also has served 20 years as a board member for the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM), including a three-year term as part of the executive board serving as president-elect, president and past president, and she continues to serve as chairperson of the Miss Basketball Award committee. She also has served on the MHSAA Basketball Committee.
“Dorene is someone who has been passionate for years about providing opportunities for young women,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “That's easily seen in the work she's put in not just with her program but as a strong voice of leadership for the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. She's been one of the strongest advocates for girls basketball in our state over the last 20 years.”
There’s some necessary context behind all of those on-court win-loss numbers. St. Ignace has only about 200 students and generally plays in Division 3 (or formerly Class C) or Division 4 – yet during the regular season the Saints frequently line up games against much larger opponents from all over the state. They’ve had their share of stars, especially for such a small schools, but the success is also a testament to how Ingalls works to find specific roles for as many players as possible – whether it’s for a minute here or there to grab a rebound or get a steal, many play at least some little part in keeping the team moving forward.
And the memories made off the court have meant just as much, if not more.
Clement, who became the Upper Peninsula’s first Miss Basketball Award winner in 2003 and then a four-year captain at U-M, recalled how much she and her teammates laughed with their coach and how Ingalls has a talent for connecting with her players.
“Her record by itself could garner consideration for this award, but that is not the primary reason I write this letter,” wrote St. Ignace superintendent Don Gustafson in nominating Ingalls for the WISL Award. His daughter Linnie played for Ingalls four seasons before graduating in 2018.
“She teaches basketball, but she teaches much more than basketball. The characteristics that Dorene models for the athletes who have played under her tutelage are dedication, perseverance, teamwork and life lessons, to name a few. The players she has coached in the past stay connected with Dorene long after that graduate, as (she) continues to provide guidance and advice even after the student athlete’s playing days have concluded.”
Like many families, cancer has impacted the Ingalls – both she and her husband Doug lost their mothers to the disease when those women were only in their 50s. St. Ignace’s trips to East Lansing, or Grand Rapids to play at Calvin College, or last year to Detroit to play in the Motor City Roundball Classic, included trips to medical facilities.
At the cancer center in East Lansing, the Saints inadvertently crossed paths with a St. Ignace resident undergoing treatment, and Dorene still is brought to tears retelling how they connected with that patient and were able to give her tickets to come watch them play that weekend. The Grand Rapids center was where Ingalls went through rehabilitation after suffering paralysis during childbirth in 2005; she remains partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.
Last season, before COVID-19 grounded the Saints’ chances to win another title, the team visited Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit, including the room where one of the player’s mothers had fought for her life just a year before. That mother was part of the visit and, as Ingalls recalled, “to have that, and not the state championship, that’s probably more important. … That was pretty special. They’re learning the lessons that you’re hoping they do.”
This season’s team hasn’t enjoyed the “changing life” speeches that are part of usual bus trips, because right now the Saints aren’t taking buses to away games. But the pandemic has provided other opportunities – like when the team did workouts in the snow before full-contact practice was allowed to resume, or spent one practice performing skits for each other from the 1970s and 80s just to “break up the uncertainty and negativity.” Ingalls called it making the most of what you’ve got – and those are the memories she knows won’t be forgotten.
There has been recognition. She was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 and received the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame’s Treasure Award in 2017 – in addition to various Coach of the Year awards both for the Upper Peninsula and statewide over the years. She was named the Prep Person of the Year by the Detroit Free Press in 2011 and received BCAM's Tom Hursey Distinguished Service Award in 2018.
All are proud moments. But perhaps the proudest is another effort that keeps on building. Mining a connection to Lowell High School and its Pink Arrow cancer awareness games – St. Ignace alum Nate Fowler is Lowell’s superintendent – Ingalls hatched the annual Hooping for a Cure basketball game in 2009. Cedarville, Cheboygan and Mackinaw City have joined in the fundraising game since, and the event became a doubleheader this season with the girls and boys teams both playing.
The event raised a record $35,000+ in 2020, and more than $25,000 this season despite attendance restrictions. That brought the total to more than $245,000 – funds that at first were donated to the oncology department at Mackinac Straits Hospital in part for the purchase of specialized examining tables and chemotherapy treatment infusion recliners. Once the equipment needs were met and a new hospital – Mackinac Straits Health System – was built, the money went into a No Cancer Patient Left Behind fund that provides financial support for patients who have to travel outside of the area for further treatment.
“This benefit game and ensuing experiences for the team have taught us about being grateful for every day we do have and to have the courage to fight through adversity,” Ingalls said. “These vital lessons will carry on in all of us for a lifetime.
“In fact I recently received a photo from a former player sitting in one of the infusion chairs getting treatment for an autoimmune disease that really struck me deeply. Talk about full circle.”
Ingalls is a 1986 graduate of New Baltimore Anchor Bay High School, where she played basketball, volleyball and softball. She attended Lake Superior State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1991, and she then moved to St. Ignace to begin six years as a geologist before starting a screen printing and embroidery business.
She had earned 10 letters playing four sports at LSSU – volleyball, basketball, softball and tennis – and soon after moving to St. Ignace she joined the Saints’ coaching ranks, first as a junior high and assistant junior varsity basketball coach in 1992-93, then junior varsity girls head coach from 1994-98 until she took over the varsity position. She also has coached softball and subvarsity boys basketball.
Ingalls and husband Doug have two sons, Jackson and Jonathan.
The first Women In Sports Leadership Award was presented in 1990.
1990 – Carol Seavoy, L’Anse
1991 – Diane Laffey, Harper Woods
1992 – Patricia Ashby, Scotts
1993 – Jo Lake, Grosse Pointe
1994 – Brenda Gatlin, Detroit
1995 – Jane Bennett, Ann Arbor
1996 – Cheryl Amos-Helmicki, Huntington Woods
1997 – Delores L. Elswick, Detroit
1998 – Karen S. Leinaar, Delton
1999 – Kathy McGee, Flint
2000 – Pat Richardson, Grass Lake
2001 – Suzanne Martin, East Lansing
2002 – Susan Barthold, Kentwood
2003 – Nancy Clark, Flint
2004 – Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, Grand Rapids
2005 – Barbara Redding, Capac
2006 – Melanie Miller, Lansing
2007 – Jan Sander, Warren Woods
2008 – Jane Bos, Grand Rapids
2009 – Gail Ganakas, Flint; Deb VanKuiken, Holly
2010 – Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2011 – Ellen Pugh, West Branch; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2012 – Janet Gillette, Comstock Park
2013 – Barbara Beckett, Traverse City
2014 – Teri Reyburn, DeWitt
2015 – Jean LaClair, Bronson
2016 – Betty Wroubel, Pontiac
2017 – Dottie Davis, Ann Arbor
2018 – Meg Seng, Ann Arbor
2019 – Kris Isom, Adrian
2020 – Nikki Norris, East Lansing
PHOTOS: (Top) St. Ignace girls basketball coach Dorene Ingalls embraces one of her players after their team finished Class C runner-up in 2014. (Middle) Ingalls talks things over with her team during a game at the Breslin Center. (Below) Ingalls coaches her team during a Semifinal win at Calvin College's Van Noord Arena in 2019.
Rep Council Adjusts, Expands Out-of-State Competition Opportunities at Spring Meeting
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 12, 2023
Substantial changes to the rules governing out-of-state competition by Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools were among the most notable actions taken by the MHSAA’s Representative Council during its annual Spring Meeting, May 6-7 in Gaylord.
The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,500 member schools is generally the busiest of its sessions each year. The Council considered 31 committee proposals and dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.
The most far-reaching changes approved by the Council shifts the MHSAA rules regarding competitions against out-of-state opponents. Moving forward, MHSAA member schools may continue to compete against teams from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario – but also may compete against teams from elsewhere in the United States as long as those competitions take place in Michigan, one of those five contiguous states or Ontario. The Council voted to remove the allowance for MHSAA member schools to travel up to 300 miles to play an out-of-state opponent; MHSAA member schools still can compete against those opponents, but competition must take place in Michigan or one of the states/province listed above. Any event including schools from outside of Michigan or those contiguous states/province must receive approval by the MHSAA and each state high school association with a team involved in order for MHSAA member schools to be allowed to participate.
In an effort to strengthen the undue influence regulation, the Council approved a change making it a violation for coaches or their representatives to connect via social media with students from another high school or with a student prior to ninth grade who has not yet enrolled in a high school or participated in an athletic practice or competition as a high school student. Violations of this rule include connecting via social media with a “follow,” “friend request” or “direct message” to a student. The Council also expanded the portion of the undue influence regulation that doesn’t allow coaches and representatives to visit prospective athletes and their families at the families’ homes to not allow them to visit athletes and families at “other locations” as well.
The Council approved an expansion in the use of video to determine penalties when there is a bench-clearing situation or other incident where team members enter the area of competition during an altercation. MHSAA staff, based on video evidence, will be allowed to assess additional penalties including ejections and suspensions to team members, coaches and other staff who enter those areas to participate or engage in such an altercation.
Concerning specific sports, changes to three stand out from several adopted by the Council.
The Council approved three Bowling Committee recommendations affecting postseason competition in that sport. The first reorganizes Regional competition to eight sites, with each qualifying the top two teams and top seven singles for both girls and boys competitions to the Finals (instead of the previous six sites qualifying three teams and 10 singles for both girls and boys). The Council also approved a proposal to change the Team Finals match play to a head-to-head, best-of-five Baker game format. Finally, the Council approved a proposal to adopt the Phantom II oil pattern for all MHSAA Tournament competitions.
In girls volleyball, the Council approved a Volleyball Committee recommendation to begin seeding the top two teams in each District beginning with the 2024-25 school year. As is done currently with girls and boys basketball and girls and boys soccer, the top-two seeded teams in each District will be placed on opposite sides of the bracket, guaranteeing they will not play each other before the District Final. Seeding will be determined using the Michigan Power Rating (MPR) formula which takes into account regular-season success and strength of schedule. MPR is used to seed Districts in the same way in basketball and soccer.
In wrestling, the Council approved a Wrestling Committee recommendation adding two regular-season dual meets to the allowed number of wrestling contest dates. These must be dual meets and may not be converted into three-team (tri) or four-team (quad) meets. Teams and individuals now will be allowed 16 days of competition with no more than eight of those days allowed for tournament-type events where a wrestler competes more than twice.
Here is a summary of other notable actions taken by the Representative Council at the Spring Meeting, which will take effect during the 2023-24 school year unless noted:
• The Council approved a classification-related change for the MHSAA’s smallest member schools, allowing them to request participation of eighth and seventh-grade students, based on the high school’s enrollment. Schools with fewer than 125 students (instead of the previous 100) may request an MHSAA Executive Committee waiver to use eighth-grade students in all sports except football, ice hockey and wrestling. Schools with fewer than 75 students (instead of the previous 50) may make the same request to use seventh and eighth-grade students in all sports except those three. Schools requesting a waiver must show cause and rationale for those students’ participation.
• The Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee proposal requiring middle school head coaches to have valid, current CPR certification. Similar to the high school requirements for head coaches at all levels, this addition at the middle school level will ensure each team has at least one coach at each level present who is CPR-certified. This requirement will take effect with the 2024-25 school year, and schools will attest to its completion by the established deadline for each season.
• The Council approved an Officials Review Committee recommendation adjusting the minimum requirements for postseason consideration in wrestling, competitive cheer and soccer. In wrestling, officials must receive 75 coaches ratings (instead of the previous 100) to be considered for working a postseason meet. In girls competitive cheer, judges must be members in good standing of a Local Approved Association. In soccer, officials must work a minimum of five regular-season games (down from the previous 10) to be considered for the postseason.
• The Council also approved a Committee recommendation increasing the amount paid when an official arrives on site prior to a competition before receiving notice that competition has been canceled due to an “act of God” including weather that results in unplayable conditions. In these situations, officials will receive one-half of the contract fee (instead of the previous one-third).
• For baseball, the Council approved a change to when trophies will be awarded to Regional champions. Those trophies will be presented to both Regional champions after the Quarterfinal is concluded, as Regional Finals and the ensuing Quarterfinal are played at the same site on the same day and both Quarterfinal participants will have earned a Regional championship earlier that day.
• In addition to the Regional and Finals changes for bowling explained above, the Council also approved a Bowling Committee proposal seeking common start dates for practice and competition for Lower and Upper Peninsula teams. For the 2023-24 season, bowling teams in both peninsulas will begin practice Nov. 9 and competition Nov. 25. Previously, Upper Peninsula teams were allowed to begin their seasons slightly earlier – this past season four days sooner for practice and a week earlier for competition than their Lower Peninsula counterparts.
• The Council also approved a start date change in girls competitive cheer, proposed by the Competitive Cheer Committee, moving the practice start date to the second Monday before Thanksgiving. This shortens the season by one week, but also allows a more comfortable gap between the fall sideline cheer and winter competitive cheer seasons. This change will take effect with the 2024-25 school year.
• Also in cheer, the Council approved a Committee recommendation that adjusts the restricted period at the end of competitive cheer season to the Monday following Memorial Day, which will allow athletes to try out for sideline cheerleading for the upcoming season after the completion of the majority of spring-sport competitions.
• Additionally, the Council approved an exception to the MHSAA’s all-star regulation that will allow for individual competitive cheer and sideline cheer athletes to participate in an event that is “all-star” in name only as long as the selection components of the event comply with MHSAA regulations.
• In cross country and track & field, the Council approved Cross Country/Track & Field Committee recommendations to eliminate a pair of uniform-related rules adaptations designating the types of head attire that previously could be worn during cross country races and body adornments that previously were allowed to be worn during competitions in both sports.
• In golf, the Council approved a Golf Committee recommendation to require athletes to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that athlete’s school team in an MHSAA postseason golf competition. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hold events.
• A Council action in gymnastics will better define how athletes are assigned a division for the individual portion of the MHSAA Finals. Athletes are assigned either Division 1 or Division 2 based on past experience and skill level – Division 1 for those with the most – and the Council approved the allowance of the Xcel levels of Sapphire and Diamond to be part of the determining criteria. Athletes who have previously competed in a non-school event at either of these levels would be required to compete in the Division 1 level for MHSAA postseason competition.
• In tennis, the Council approved a Tennis Committee recommendation allowing in the Lower Peninsula for a No. 1 doubles pair from a non-qualifying team to advance from Regional to Finals competition if that pair finishes first or second at the Regional and the No. 1 singles player from that team also has qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play. (Upper Peninsula tennis does not play a Regional.)
• The Council approved a Swimming & Diving Committee recommendation restructuring how qualifying times for Finals are determined in an effort to provide more entries in swimming events at the championship level. Moving forward, qualifying times will be determined based on the past five years of MHSAA race data, but also will account for past numbers of qualifiers in each swim race; qualifying times will be shifted to allow for more athletes to advance to the Finals in events where fields have not been full over the previous five seasons.
• The second swimming & diving recommendation approved by the Council assigned specific breaks during Finals competitions. During Friday preliminaries (swam in the Lower Peninsula only), 10-minute breaks will be placed between the 200-yard medley relay and 200 freestyle races, and between the 200 freestyle relay and 100 backstroke, with a 15-minute break between the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. The same 10-minute breaks will be mandated for Saturday Finals competitions, with a 15-minute break during Finals coming between the conclusion of diving and 100 butterfly races.
• For girls volleyball, the Council also approved a Volleyball Committee recommendation to permit the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA) a 3-minute on-court presentation during the MHSAA Finals to recognize that season’s Miss Volleyball Award winner. The presentation will take place between the second and third sets of the Division 1 championship match.
Junior High/Middle School
• The Council voted to make permanent cross country and track & field competitions that have been conducted at a Regional level as part of a pilot program during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years. The Council also voted to expand the number of sites per Junior High/Middle School Regional to allow for large-school (Divisions 1 and 2) and small-school (Divisions 3 and 4) meets for each of the eight Zones. Each participating junior high and middle school will be classified for its Regional meet based on the enrollment of the high school with which the junior high/middle school is connected.
The Council also reviewed reports on membership, with 750 senior high schools and 767 junior high/middle schools in 2022-22 plus 63 elementary schools with 6th-grader participation; cooperative programs, with 376 high school programs for 692 teams during 2023-23; eligibility advancement applications, which totaled three; the use of Educational Transfer Forms, of which there were 127; school violations, attendance at athletic director in-service workshops and Coaches Advancement Program sessions; officials’ registrations, rules meetings attendance and officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons. The Association’s $13.3 million budget for the 2023-24 school year also was approved.
The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 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, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.