Soon After Gaylord Tornado, Charlevoix Steps in to Keep Regional on Track

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 25, 2022

At 4:45 p.m. Friday, while visiting a Lower Peninsula Division 1 Regional track & field meet at Novi High School, MHSAA assistant director Cody Inglis saw the first headline reporting a tornado had touched down in Gaylord.

Five minutes later, Inglis heard from Gaylord athletic director Christian Wilson. The school had remained outside of the tornado’s path – but there was significant damage in the community. Add in that Gaylord’s facilities might be needed to provide support in the aftermath – and at that point didn’t have power – and it was a quick and obvious decision to call off the next morning’s Division 2 Regional at Gaylord Community Field.

Within the next hour, northern Michigan’s high school sports community – and especially Charlevoix and athletic director Travis Garrett – would step in with a new plan for the 16 schools coming from as far away as Freeland, Ludington and Petoskey.

Charlevoix, which had hosted the Division 3 Regional that included its teams Thursday, was able to quickly turn things back around to be ready for those schools to arrive less than 18 hours later.

“It is amazing, knowing how much work and how many people it takes to put on an MHSAA Track Regional, that Travis would be able to get this set up as quickly as he did,” Wilson said. “After a few hours of many phone calls and many text messages, we were confident that we communicated to all of the people that needed to know that the Regional would be moved to Charlevoix High School, and they did an outstanding job representing the MHSAA the following day.”

The event timers and scorers from Thursday’s Charlevoix meet actually were scheduled for the Gaylord Regional as well – so instead they stayed in Charlevoix. Wilson and Inglis split up the 80 phone calls they needed to make to get all of the teams updated on the new site, and by 7 p.m. everyone knew about the adjusted travel plan.

That next morning, an outpouring of Charlevoix community members, including the school’s athletic boosters, came out to volunteer and make sure every detail was covered to provide a few more hundred athletes a championship experience.

“The irony is Christian and Gaylord host everything under the sun for the MHSAA. They come to the rescue for us all the time,” Inglis said. “This time, somebody came to his aid and after he’s come to ours and schools’ aids so many times.”

Also important to note: During that first hour, Inglis heard from three more schools in addition to Charlevoix that offered to host Saturday’s Regional if needed.

Charlevoix also collected a significant donation from fans that day for Gaylord High School to use to help families that suffered loss the previous afternoon.

“(Travis) called Monday and I told him thank you again, and he said people came out of the woodwork on Saturday for this,” Inglis said. “It’s another example of how in tough times, schools step up. And Charlevoix and Travis deserve a ton of credit because they went above and beyond.”

PHOTO Runners prepare for the start of a race while the field fills up Saturday at Charlevoix during the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Regional previously scheduled to be competed in Gaylord. (Photo courtesy of the Charlevoix athletic department.)

3 Receive National Honors from NHSACA, Coaching Pair Named to Hall of Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.

Additionally, longtime softball coaches Kay Johnson of Morenci and Kris Hubbard from Ottawa Lake Whiteford were inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame. Johnson went over 1,000 career wins this spring and has led her program since 1993, including to Class C championships in 1985 and 1986. Hubbard retired after the 2019 season with an 865-380-3 record since taking over in 1974, with Class D titles in 1984, 1985 and 1987.