#TBT: Before They Were Olympians

August 25, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Michigan athletes enjoyed another banner showing at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that wrapped up Sunday. We cheered for them all – but paid special attention to a handful who previously competed in MHSAA sports before achieving more at the international level.

Much of the following was taken from a recent series of MHSAA Instagram posts that highlighted our state’s Olympians with MHSAA ties. Athletes are listed with high school and graduation year. 

Men’s Basketball

Draymond Green, Saginaw, 2008 – Green got a taste for championships in leading Saginaw to back-to-back Class A titles in 2007 and 2008 before starring for Michigan State University and now for the Golden State Warriors. He averaged nearly 10 minutes per game off the bench for the U.S. team, playing in all eight games during the undefeated gold medal march.

Women’s Swimming & Diving

Allison Schmitt, Canton, 2008 – Schmitt won the 200 and 500-yard freestyle championships at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals in both 2006 and 2007 and continues to hold the all-Finals records in both events; she then went on to shine at University of Georgia. She helped the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay to gold and the 400 freestyle relay to silver, bringing her personal medal count to eight over the last three Olympics.

Women’s Crew

Grace Latz, Jackson Northwest, 2006 – Latz played volleyball during her high school career at Northwest. She took up rowing at University of Wisconsin and helped her quadruple sculls team to a fifth-place finish in Rio.

Grace Luczak, Ann Arbor Pioneer, 2007 – Luczak also was a high school volleyball player and rowed on Pioneer’s team (although crew is not an MHSAA-sponsored tournament sport, some schools have teams) before going on to University of Michigan and then Stanford University. She finished fourth in the pair at Rio.

Ellen Tomek, Flint Powers Catholic, 2002 – Tomek played basketball and softball for the Chargers and also made the Olympics in 2008 after taking up rowing at Michigan. She finished in sixth place this time in doubles sculls after finishing fifth in Beijing.

Men’s Track & Field - Discus

Andrew Evans, Portage Northern, 2009 – Evans played football, ice hockey and participated in track & field for the Huskies, winning discus at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals in 2008 and 2009. He finished 16th in qualifying at Rio, just missing the top 12 who advanced to the final competition.

Women’s Volleyball

Alisha Glass, Leland, 2007 – Glass remains arguably the top player in MHSAA volleyball history with records still for career kills, single-season aces and career aces (accomplished during the rally scoring era beginning in 2004). She led Leland to the Class D title in 2006 and then played at Penn State University – and this month set the U.S. team to a bronze medal in Rio.

Lauren Paolini, Saline, 2005 – Paolini was both a volleyball and basketball standout for Saline before moving on to the University of Texas. She served as an alternate for this Olympic team.

Additional Olympians with MHSAA ties

Cindy Ofili, Ann Arbor Huron, 2012, Great Britain – Ofili won three LP Division 1 championships and was on a winning relay in 2012 before going on to run at Michigan. She took fourth in the 100 hurdles in Rio.

Tiffany (Ofili) Porter, Ypsilanti, 2005, Great Britain – Porter still owns MHSAA LP Division 2 Finals records in the 100 and 300 hurdles and shares the record in long jump after winning six individual Finals championships over her four-year varsity career. Porter finished seventh in the 100 hurdles in Rio and also ran in the 2012 Olympics. She also attended Michigan.

Alex Rose, Ogemaw Heights, 2009, Samoa – Rose was the 2009 LP Division 2 champion in shot put before also competing at Central Michigan University. Like Evans, he also threw discus in Rio but did not qualify for the final with his top throw coming in 29th.

PHOTOS: (Clockwise from left): Allison Schmitt waves to the crowd during her last MHSAA Finals; Draymond Green is introduced before a Class A Final at the Breslin Center; Alisha Glass confers with a teammate during a Class D Volleyball Final; Portage Northern grad Andrew Evans.

Thompson, Kowalski & Phil Receive National Honors from NHSACA

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

July 11, 2024

One of the longest-serving members of the MHSAA Representative Council and two longtime Michigan high school coaches have received highest honors this summer from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

Brighton athletic director John Thompson was named Athletic Director of the Year during the NHSACA’s annual conference June 26 in Bismarck, N.D. He has supervised the Bulldogs’ highly-accomplished athletic program for two decades and served on the Representative Council the last 14 years, including currently as vice president.

Thompson also this year received the Thomas Rashid Athletic Director of the Year Award from the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Brighton was selected as an MIAAA exemplary athletic program in 2015 and as an ESPN unified champion school in 2018, the latter recognizing its statewide leadership in cultivating unified sport opportunities.

Additionally, Farmington Hills Mercy girls golf coach Vicky Kowalski and Livonia Stevenson girls swimming & diving coach Greg Phil were named NHSACA National Coach of the Year in their respective sports.

Kowalski completed her 46th season coaching Mercy last fall by leading the program to its second-straight Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship and fourth MHSAA Finals title overall. She also in January was named the 2022-23 National Coach of the Year in her sport by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. She was inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA) Hall of Fame this year for both golf and bowling.

Phil has coached girls swimming & diving since 1976, including at Stevenson since 1985. After winning the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East title, the most recent of several league championships under his leadership, Stevenson finished 16th at last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals and previously had placed Finals runner-up twice. Phil was named to the MHSCA Hall of Fame in 2012.

All three honorees were nominated for the national recognition by the MHSCA. Beal City baseball coach Brad Antcliff, now-retired Leland volleyball coach Laurie Glass, Ann Arbor Greenhills boys tennis coach Eric Gajar and Lowell wrestling coach R.J. Boudro also were National Coach of the Year finalists.