2022 WISL Honoree Hyman Lauded for Lifetime of Leadership
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 25, 2022
Lori Hyman was a sports standout in high school, then at Michigan State University. She then coached college basketball for 17 years, starting when she was only 23 years old, and surely could’ve continued down that path.
While always a leader, she decided to change gears in 1995 and provide guidance another way – coaching up coaches as a high school athletic director. Over the next 27 years, she became one of the most respected ADs in Michigan – and contributed in that role at her alma mater Livonia Stevenson over the last 22.
To celebrate her many contributions to school sports, at home but also statewide, Hyman has been named the 35th recipient of the MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Award. She will receive the award during the Division 1 Girls Basketball Final on March 19 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
Hyman served her first five years as an athletic director at Dexter, making the move there after four college basketball coaching stops. After a memorable hoops career at MSU, she served as a women’s basketball graduate assistant at Ferris State University and then head coach at Northwood Institute (now University) from 1981-82 – when she was only 23 years old – through 1985-86.
She then served as an assistant at University of Illinois before returning as head coach at Ferris State from 1989-90 through 1994-95. In Fall 1995, she began at Dexter.
“Every part of my career I’ve been happy with, and honored, and just thoroughly enjoyed it,” Hyman said. “It’s been a passion of mine, every aspect.
“(Playing at Michigan State) was one of the best times, if not the best time, of my life as a youngster. And then being an athletic director has probably been the most rewarding as an adult. And being at Stevenson, coming back home, has been quite an honor and just a very rich experience for me.”
Each year, the Representative Council considers the achievements of women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics.
Hyman is a 1975 graduate of Stevenson, where she also played softball and competed in track & field. She was named MSU’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year for women’s basketball in 1979, after serving as co-captain of the team that season but missing the majority of it with an injury.
As an athlete at MSU, she joined her teammates in filing a 1978 discrimination complaint that requested the women’s basketball team receive travel allowances equal to those received by the Spartans men’s team. “It is very meaningful that Michigan State is where they are now, not just in women’s basketball but the women’s sport program,” Hyman said. “I feel like we were part of that growing and moving forward in a positive way, and I thank Michigan State for recognizing that and moving it forward.”
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health in 1980 and has a master’s in athletic administration from Wayne State University. She received her certified master athletic administrator designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) in 2006.
Back at Stevenson, Hyman has directed the athletic program for a high school with nearly 1,700 students, which by enrollment ranks 50th out of 750 MHSAA member schools.
She has hosted a multitude of MHSAA Tournament events while at both Dexter and Stevenson and has served on the MHSAA’s girls tennis, girls basketball and boys basketball committees. She also has served as the girls and boys tennis commissioner of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association, of which Stevenson is a member.
“Lori has been a leader and pioneer in the world of athletics, and in particular as an advocate for females and girls sports,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “When she left coaching basketball to work as an AD, it was an incredible victory for kids in our state. She’s been dependable, loyal and just a model of consistency in running a first-class program.”
Hyman was named her region’s Athletic Director of the Year by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) in 2014 and received its Jack Johnson Distinguished Service Award in 2015.
As an instructor for the MIAAA, Hyman has provided training particularly to beginning athletic directors. She has served as a Leadership Training Institute instructor as well for the MIAAA and as a presider and speaker at the MIAAA’s annual conference. She also has spoken at the MHSAA’s Women In Sports Leadership Conference.
“I’ve always been an advocate for women in sports and equal opportunity,” Hyman added. “I treat all of the sports here equally, male and female. But if I feel that there needs to be a little bit more advocacy for women in sports, whether it’s coaching and getting more girls involved, or officiating, administration, any kind of leadership, I’m really big on that.”
“I’m a big advocate for women in athletics, but (also) just athletics in general.”
In addition to her vast school sports responsibilities and contributions, Hyman has volunteered with Special Olympics, Livonia’s Newburg United Methodist Church and Rotary Club.
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
2021 – Dorene Ingalls, St. Ignace
PHOTO Livonia Stevenson athletic director Lori Hyman (right) and Finals swimming champion McKenzie Siroky hold up a championship medal alongside photos honoring Siroky's achievements. (Photo courtesy of the Stevenson athletic department.)
2023 Forsythe Award Celebrates Leinaar's 40 Years Dedicated to School Sports
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 8, 2023
Few people in Michigan have had a longer-lasting influence on the rules and policies of educational athletics than Frankfort’s Karen Leinaar, who has served in several roles locally, statewide and nationally over more than 40 years contributing to the school sports community.
Thank you, Bill Baker.
The longtime teacher, coach, principal and superintendent during a career that stretched across multiple schools – including Leinaar’s growing up, Delton Kellogg – made an impression on the standout multi-sport athlete before she graduated from high school in 1977. Baker’s philosophy and work led Leinaar to study education at Michigan State University and then brought her back as Delton’s athletic director to begin four decades of making the same impact on children in her hometown and eventually in hometowns all over Michigan and beyond.
Baker died in 2009, but not before continuing to mentor Leinaar through many good times and tough ones.
“The man had two daughters that I grew up with, his wife was a teacher, and he demonstrated to all of us – he never missed an event – that we were important to him. That even though we weren’t his kids, we were his kids and athletics was a way to help kids become better people – and for some kids it was the only thing that they had positive in their life,” Leinaar said. “And he made it known just to that individual kid how important their participation was and their involvement, and how that helped them become the person that they were.
“That to me was such an example of how to help people be good people, that I just took that role on.”
It’s a role in which she continues to serve. Leinaar began her career as an athletic administrator in 1982, and as the interim athletic director currently at Frankfort High School is serving her fifth district in that position. Since June 2019, she also has served as executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), the professional organization for school sports administrators in the state with a membership of nearly 700.
To recognize that longtime and continuing impact, Leinaar has been named the 2023 honoree for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Charles E. Forsythe Award.
The annual award is in its 46th year and named after former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe, the Association's first full-time and longest-serving chief executive. Forsythe Award recipients are selected each year by the MHSAA Representative Council, based on an individual's outstanding contributions to the interscholastic athletics community.
Leinaar also served 22 years on the MHSAA’s Representative Council and a four-year term from 2009-13 on the Board of Directors for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and just last week was named to the 2023 class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Hall of Fame.
“It is impossible even to estimate the number of students, coaches, administrators and others who have been affected by the work Karen Leinaar has done to make school sports the best they can be – not only in her communities, but across Michigan and throughout the country,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “There are few who have equaled her dedication and her support and promotion of the ideals of school-based sports. She has always placed an emphasis on being in the room, on the field or at the arena, actively participating in her leadership roles, and our programs are better for it.”
Leinaar first served as athletic director at Delton Kellogg for nearly 17 years, from March 1982 through October 1998. She spent three years at Gaylord, then 8½ at Benzie Central before taking over at Bear Lake in November 2010 and spending the next decade organizing athletic programs for students in grades 5-12 before retiring in January 2021. She came out of retirement to return to the athletic director’s chair this past fall as interim AD at Frankfort. She has completed nearly four years as MIAAA executive director, moving into that position after previously serving nine years as an assistant to the executive.
Leinaar began her service on the Representative Council in Fall 1999 and completed her last term as a statewide at-large representative at the Fall 2021 meeting.
She has been honored several times for her contributions. She received the MHSAA’s Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998, a Citation from the NFHS in 2000, and she was named MIAAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2001. She received an MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2014 – recognition given for work done generally behind the scenes and with little attention.
“This is the top of the mountain, per se. This one does mean so much,” Leinaar said of the Forsythe Award. “The names that are associated with this over the years, I never thought I’d be put in that group.”
Leinaar remains a continuous source of support at a multitude of MHSAA championship events, and during her time on Council was one of the most frequent representatives handing out trophies and medals to champions and runners-up at Finals events. She began while athletic director at Delton Kellogg hosting the MHSAA Volleyball Finals in Class B and Class C and continues to assist with those championships now played at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
She also hosted Competitive Cheer Finals at Delton Kellogg in 1996 and 1997, Ski Finals while at Gaylord, and many more championship events across the Lower Peninsula. She continues to assist at the MHSAA’s Lower Peninsula Cross Country and Track & Field Finals.
After attending Delton Kellogg High School, Leinaar earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and recreation, with a minor in driver education, from MSU in 1982. She completed a master’s in athletic administration from Western Michigan University in 1994.
Leinaar has been a member for 40 years of both the MIAAA and NIAAA, and has served as chairperson of the MIAAA Annual Conference and awards chairperson for both the state and national bodies. She’s also served as chairperson of the MIAAA’s Exemplary Athletic Program.
Past recipients of the Charles E. Forsythe Award
1978 - Brick Fowler, Port Huron; Paul Smarks, Warren
1979 - Earl Messner, Reed City; Howard Beatty, Saginaw
1980 - Max Carey, Freesoil
1981 - Steven Sluka, Grand Haven; Samuel Madden, Detroit
1982 - Ernest Buckholz, Mt. Clemens; T. Arthur Treloar, Petoskey
1983 - Leroy Dues, Detroit; Richard Maher, Sturgis
1984 - William Hart, Marquette; Donald Stamats, Caro
1985 - John Cotton, Farmington; Robert James, Warren
1986 - William Robinson, Detroit; Irving Soderland, Norway
1987 - Jack Streidl, Plainwell; Wayne Hellenga, Decatur
1988 - Jack Johnson, Dearborn; Alan Williams, North Adams
1989 - Walter Bazylewicz, Berkley; Dennis Kiley, Jackson
1990 - Webster Morrison, Pickford; Herbert Quade, Benton Harbor
1991 - Clifford Buckmaster, Petoskey; Donald Domke, Northville
1992 - William Maskill, Kalamazoo; Thomas G. McShannock, Muskegon
1993 - Roy A. Allen Jr., Detroit; John Duncan, Cedarville
1994 - Kermit Ambrose, Royal Oak
1995 - Bob Perry, Lowell
1996 - Charles H. Jones, Royal Oak
1997 - Michael A. Foster, Richland; Robert G. Grimes, Battle Creek
1998 - Lofton C. Greene, River Rouge; Joseph J. Todey, Essexville
1999 - Bernie Larson, Battle Creek
2000 - Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo; Jerry Cvengros, Escanaba
2001 - Norm Johnson, Bangor; George Lovich, Canton
2002 - John Fundukian, Novi
2003 - Ken Semelsberger, Port Huron
2004 - Marco Marcet, Frankenmuth
2005 - Jim Feldkamp, Troy
2006 - Dan McShannock, Midland; Dail Prucka, Monroe
2007 - Keith Eldred, Williamston; Tom Hickman, Spring Lake
2008 - Jamie Gent, Haslett; William Newkirk, Sanford Meridian
2009 - Paul Ellinger, Cheboygan
2010 - Rudy Godefroidt, Hemlock; Mike Boyd, Waterford
2011 - Eric C. Federico, Trenton
2012 - Bill Mick, Midland
2013 - Jim Gilmore, Tecumseh; Dave Hutton, Grandville
2014 - Dan Flynn, Escanaba
2015 - Hugh Matson, Saginaw
2016 - Gary Hice, Petoskey; Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2017 - Chuck Nurek, Rochester Hills
2018 - Gary Ellis, Allegan
2019 - Jim Derocher, Negaunee; Fredrick J. Smith, Stevensville
2020 - Michael Garvey, Lawton
2021 - Leroy Hackley Jr., Byron Center; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2022 - Bruce Horsch, Houghton
PHOTOS (Top) Karen Leinaar, left, awards the 2022 Division 4 volleyball finalist trophy to Indian River Inland Lakes coach Nicole Moore. (Middle) Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998.