Tomlin Sells Opportunity at Alma Mater
July 11, 2013
By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor
Edward Tomlin had it all. Or, at least, everything he wanted when he left Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, to launch himself into the real world.
“I was in sales. My big thing in college was that I wanted a company car, and a laptop, and I wanted to travel. That was it,” Tomlin recalled on a cold February morning this winter. “Well, 25 pounds later, I realized, ‘You know what? This is not all it’s cracked up to be.’ It was a lot of fun for a guy coming right out of college, but it really wasn’t meaningful.”
The erstwhile traveler is now firmly entrenched in a first-floor office at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, selling the most precious of all commodities: opportunity to student-athletes.
He recalls going into work one day during his prior life and thinking there must be something else to do.
A phone call to his mother was all it took.
“She said, ‘Well then, quit.’ And, I quit, that day,” Tomlin said. “It’s funny because my mom told me before I left college I should get certified to teach, and I said, ‘Nah, I’m going into sales.’”
Well, mother knows best. In Tomlin’s case, both his mother, Jacqueline, and his father, Kern, were lifetime educators.
And, now, so is he.
After beginning as a substitute teacher within a week after retiring his sales briefcase, he landed his first teaching gig at Detroit Crockett High School.
A solid golfer, Tomlin was never at a loss to find people seeking to fill out a foursome during his sales travels. So, he put that talent to use as the Crockett golf coach during that first year.
“I started to coach golf in the fall of 1994 and found that I enjoyed it,” Tomlin said. “Plus I got to hit my golf ball a little bit and show some kids that they could play.”
A year later, his coaching path took a duck-hook if ever there was one when he arrived at his alma mater, Cass Tech. It was then that one of his dad’s friends told Tomlin the Technicians needed help with girls volleyball.
“About all I knew was what I’d seen in the Olympics. So over the next three or four years I learned to coach volleyball, and we went from being a good program to a bad program,” Tomlin laughed, while adding that Cass Tech had just won an MHSAA Regional and had some solid individual talent when he stepped in.
“But, through MIVCA (the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association), and some additional training and sports performance videos, I’ve turned into a better coach,” he added.
Such is Tomlin’s approach to administration. As he was trying to find his way during the early years, and continues to do to the present, he leaned on the network of people and resources available.
Tomlin had worked closely with long-time Cass Tech athletic director Robert Shannon, and early in his educational career was introduced to the Michigan Interscholastic Administrators Association by Doris Rogers, then AD at Crockett.
“I started going to MIAAA and taking leadership courses and training,” said Tomlin, now in his second year as Cass Tech’s AD. “It really opened up a side of interscholastic athletics that I had not been exposed to. Going to those conferences has really helped me to develop my philosophies and helped establish what we try to do here at Cass.”
There is so much more that he’d like to do, but like all ADs in the Detroit Public School League, there are time limitations.
“One of the things holding us back in the Detroit Public Schools is that our position has turned into a stipend position,” Tomlin said. “I’ve got five Algebra I classes, so I’m in class until 2 (p.m.) every day. The things that I really want to do with this program in terms of moving it forward by finding more sponsorships for new teams and facilities suffer a bit due to time.”
As such, much of the responsibilities placed on athletic directors at other schools statewide fall to the coaches in the PSL. Cass Tech has won two straight MHSAA Division 1 football titles, something other coaches at Cass aspire to do. But, warns Tomlin, there’s a price to pay.
“Everyone likes the end result of a state championship, but the support and the effort it takes to get there is totally on the coaches here. They deserve all the credit,” Tomlin said. “The coaches have huge tasks because, hey, your AD has five classes so you have to be really passionate about what you’re doing; if you’re not, this isn’t the job for you.”
Hiring the right coaches is paramount today, as expectations of parents and students seem to be at odds with reality.
“Parents’ and students’ expectations have changed so much. Everyone wants that scholarship, or this level of athlete, but are they willing to put in the work?” Tomlin said.
Tomlin knows a bit about parental expectations, and hopes to instill all he’s learned in daughter Montana (16) and son Chase (11) as they continue to enjoy athletic participation.
When it’s time, Tomlin might even try to sell them on a career in education, as his mother did to him years ago.
PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech athletic director Edward Tomlin stands in his school's gymnasium. He returned to his alma mater as volleyball coach in 1995.
This is the fourth installment of a series, "Career Paths," focusing on the unsung contributions of athletic directors. See below for earlier installments.
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.