4 Thrusts: In Motion, On Track in 2013-14

December 20, 2013

By Jack Roberts
MHSAA Executive Director 

During the fall of 2012 at Update meetings across Michigan, we described “Four Thrusts for Four Years” – four health and safety emphases that would help us keep student-athletes healthier and also get a seat for Michigan’s policies and procedures for school sports on the train of best practices – an express train that is moving faster than we've ever seen it toward more cautious practice and play policies and more educational requirements for coaches.

At this December’s meeting, the MHSAA Representative Council examined a first quarter report card – what’s been accomplished during the first year.

It has been a remarkably strong start, but it’s only a start.

The first thrust, improving management of heat and humidity, received a boost last March when the Representative Council adopted a “Model Policy for Managing Heat and Humidity.” It has been promoted in print, online and at face-to-face meetings; and the response of schools has been nothing short of outstanding. 

This rapid acceptance by school administrators and coaches reflects their appreciation for a clear policy that identifies the precise conditions that call for adjustments in activities, and lists specific actions to be taken when temperature and humidity combine to reach un-safe levels. Gut and guesswork are gone.

The second thrust, raising expectations for coaches’ preparedness, is being advanced in three ways.

In May, the Representative Council adopted the requirement that by the 2014-15 school year, schools must attest that, prior to established deadlines, all assistant and subvarsity coaches at the high school level have completed annually the same MHSAA rules meeting required by all varsity head coaches or, in the alternative, one of the free online sports safety courses posted on or linked to MHSAA.com and designated to fulfill this requirement. This popular change is only the first component of this critically important second thrust.

The second component is this. The Representative Council voted in December to require by 2015-16 that MHSAA member high schools certify that all of their varsity head coaches of high school teams have a valid (current) CPR certification, with AED training as a recommended component.

As this requirement was discussed at constituent meetings, the question was frequently raised: “Why just head coaches?”

“Why indeed,” is our response. If a school has the will and resources, it most certainly should make CPR a requirement of all its coaches, as some school districts have required for many years.

CPR training is conveniently available near almost every MHSAA member school in Michigan. Still, the MHSAA will begin offering CPR certification (with AED training) on an optional basis as an extension of Level 1 of the Coaches Advancement Program (CAP) during 2014-15.

The third component of this thrust is scheduled to go before the Representative Council in March. The proposal is that all individuals hired for the first time as a varsity head coach of a high school team, to begin those coaching duties after July 31, 2016, must have completed the Coaches Advancement Program (CAP) Level 1 or 2.

The MHSAA will track compliance and prohibit varsity head coaches from attending their teams’ MHSAA tournament contests if they fail to complete this requirement, beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

In cases of very late hiring, schools may substitute two online courses of the National Federation of State High School Associations – “Fundamentals of Coaching” and “First Aid, Health and Safety.” However, that coach must complete CAP Level 1 or 2 within six months of the hiring date.

These feel like big steps to some people in MHSAA member schools – “too expensive” or “another obstacle to finding qualified coaches,” some say; but these are baby steps. 

This barely keeps pace with national trends. Michigan’s tradition of local control and its distaste for unfunded mandates has kept Michigan schools in neutral while schools in most other states have made multiple levels of coaching education, and even licensing or certification, standard operating procedure.

The three initiatives to upgrade coaches education in this critical area of health and safety over the next three years only nudges Michigan to a passing grade for what most parents and the public expect of our programs. We will still trail most other states, which continue to advance the grading curve.

And for a state association that is among the national leaders by almost every other measure, it is unacceptable to be below average in what is arguably the most important of all: promoting athlete health and safety by improving the preparation of coaches.

The third health and safety thrust is a focus on practice policies to improve acclimatization and to reduce head trauma; and the fourth thrust is a focus on game rules to reduce head trauma and to identify each sport’s most injurious situations and reduce their frequency.

Because of the critical attention to football on all levels, peewee to pros, our first focus has been to football with the appointment of a football task force which has effectively combined promotion of the sport’s safety record at the school level and its value to students, schools and communities with probing for ways to make the sport still safer.

The task force proposals for practice policies are receiving most attention and will receive Council action in March (and will be published on Second Half over the next few weeks). But the task force also has assisted MHSAA staff in developing promotional materials that are already in use, and the task force pointed MHSAA staff to playing rules that need emphasis or revision to keep school-based football as safe as possible.

During 2013-14, all MHSAA sport committees will be giving unprecedented time to the topics of the third and fourth thrusts and, when necessary, a task force will be appointed to supplement those sport committee efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions About CPR Certification 

Q. Who is authorized to provide CPR certification?
A. The MHSAA does not dictate which organization must provide the CPR education and certification. However, the Michigan Department of Human Services lists the following organizations that are approved to provide CPR training:

  • American CPR Training: www.americancpr.com
  • American Heart Association: www.americanheart.org
  • American Red Cross: www.redcross.org
  • American Safety and Health Institute: www.hsi.com/ashi/about
  • American Trauma Event Management: www.atem.us
  • Cardio Pulmonary Resource Center: 517-543-9180
  • Emergency Care and Safety Institute: www.ecsinstitute.org
  • EMS Safety Services: www.emssafety.com
  • Medic First Aid: www.medicfirstaid.com
  • National Safety Council: www.nsc.org
  • Pro CPR: www.procpr.org

Q. How expensive is the certification?
A.  $0 to $75.
Q. How long does certification take?
A. Two to five hours.
Q. How long does the certification last?
A. Generally, two years.
Q. Does the MHSAA specify the age level for the CPR training?
A. No. Generally, the course for adults alerts candidates of the necessary modifications for children and infants, and vice versa.

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.

Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998. 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.