Vicksburg AD Roy Honored Nationally for Service to School Sports
By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com
February 15, 2022
VICKSBURG — Accepting an award on a national stage is an impressive feat for any athletic director.
But it was even more special for Vicksburg AD Mike Roy, who shared that stage with his mentor and good buddy.
While Roy was presented a Distinguished Service Award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association in December, retired AD Mike Garvey was inducted into its Hall of Fame.
“This award from the NIAAA was exceptionally special to me because Mike got inducted the very same night into the NIAAA Hall of Fame,” Roy said.
“To be able to receive that award with someone who means so much to me and has guided me and been so influential in my career was the icing on the top, the cherry.”
Garvey said to be mentioned as Roy’s mentor “is an amazing compliment. When the Hall of Fame asked me to send some photos, I had to have him in one.”
The two men first connected 23 years ago when Garvey left Lawton High School for the AD’s job in Delton. Roy filled the Lawton position.
“Mike took me under his wing,” Roy said. “He introduced me to another great friend, Fred Smith.
“Just a couple guys who are awesome gentlemen who are recognized throughout the country.”
Garvey reflects that admiration.
“Mike Roy has been recognized in Michigan and it’s time the rest of the country knows how great he is.” Garvey said.
“It was wonderful to share the stage with him. He’s a high-energy person who attacks everything with vigor. He gets things done.”
Two years ago, Roy received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush for service, prompting a Roy-like comment.
“With my joking, sarcastic system, I said to myself, ‘I must be getting old because I’m starting to get these awards and being recognized for it,’” he said.
“But, really, upon hearing it, you just sit back and are really taken aback and humbled by it.”
Rooted in Paw Paw
Roy started his athletic career in Paw Paw with football, basketball, baseball and track in high school.
After turning down offers from Division III schools, Roy accepted a football scholarship to University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which was an eye-opener.
“I found out very quickly when I got to UNLV to play football that I was no longer the big fish in the pond,” he said. “I was a very small fish in a very big pond.
“Going to UNLV forced me to grow up. Sometimes when reality smacks you in the face, it kind of wakes you up.”
That experience helps him guide high school athletes today.
“Looking back now, there are some things I wish I had done on the academic side of it,” he said. “I wasn’t a great student; I wasn’t a terrible student. I wish I had done better.
“My career goal at that time, wishful as it was, was to be an NFL player.”
At UNLV, Roy earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health with an endorsement in driver’s education and a master’s in instructional and curricular studies.
Once back in Michigan, Roy coached golf and strength and conditioning at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, taught strength classes at Western Michigan University and was an assistant to Kalamazoo College men’s basketball coach Joe Hacklin.
Roy applied for a job at Vicksburg High School — which he did not get.
Instead, he was hired to replace Garvey at Lawton, also teaching strength and conditioning, and coaching varsity basketball.
Three years later, Roy became AD at Vicksburg, a job he has had for the last 20 years.
Accolades began piling up, including the certified master athletic administrator designation from the NIAAA in 2005, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association (MIAAA) Athletic Director of the Year in 2012, MIAAA president in 2019-20, NIAAA delegate at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) national conference for 10 years and being named a finalist for National Athletic Director of the Year from the National High School Coaches Association.
At the NHSCA ceremony, Roy said he noticed one of the other finalists.
“One of the guys, when I looked, I said ‘Oh my gosh. He’s been an AD for 45 years.’
“Here I’m sitting with not even half that under my belt, wondering if I’m going to get 45 years in.”
Ever humble, Roy makes a point several times of mentioning that any award he receives is a culmination of efforts from a great support staff.
“I tell people in my joking way, ‘It’s my ugly face that gets the award, but when people come to Vicksburg they meet my ticket-taker or see my game management is on point,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be able to get half this stuff if I didn’t have the athletic secretary (Rhonda VanderKamp) I have. She’s phenomenal.”
VanderKamp, who has worked with Roy all 20 years, said they work well together.
As for sharing in any awards, “I’m honored but truly he deserves those awards,” she said. “We just complement each other.
“I’m so honored when I attend some of the conferences and they go around the room and ask you how many years you’ve been an athletic secretary and how many ADs have you been through. I can say only just one. It’s awesome.”
Showing off a great home
Under Roy, Vicksburg has hosted more than 100 MHSAA postseason events, and he takes pride in the workers and facilities.
“I’ve always been big on the appearance of our facilities,” he said. “Unfortunately, the outside community doesn’t get to see our library. They don’t get to see our science labs and all the other wonderful things we have going on in the building.
“When they come to Vicksburg, they’re drawing their assumptions on how they’re treated when they walk through the gate, how do the facilities look, are the trash cans overflowing, are things broken.”
He said when the MHSAA asks or looks for people to step up and host tournaments, “We have always been willing to do that. I ask our people and they say yes, we want to bring people to Vicksburg and show off our facilities.”
Roy also implements ideas he hears at various conferences.
“I always try to network and find out who’s doing something better than I’m doing and borrow that,” he said. “The neat thing about athletic directors in our association is we’re willing to share everything.
“We’re different than coaches who have a secret play or a playbook and don’t want anybody to know those plays.”
He noted that not everyone is cut out to be an athletic director.
“Most think all I do is sit around and eat popcorn, a hot dog and watch contests and how cool that is,” he said, laughing.
He said they do not see the contact with officials and support staff, refilling of concession supplies, setting up transportation to away games, notifying parents of any changes or problems and working on game schedules for next year.
As for non-AD duties, Roy spends time with his two children: Harper, a 5-foot-8 seventh grader whom he coaches on a 12-and-under softball team; and Ryker, a fourth grader involved in football, basketball, wrestling and baseball.
Doing things the right way
Roy said former Gull Lake AD Mike Foster helped craft his philosophy that high school sports are more than just winning.
“To me, in high school educational athletics, we’re here to grow the whole child and just not teach him how to win,” he said.
“I’m hiring my coaches who are going to be the best role models for my kids. We do want to win, because it’s important, but it’s not the ultimate goal for me.”
Speaking of coaches, Roy noted that his mentor is now an employee.
“Funny thing,” he said. “Mike Garvey’s my golf coach here. I always try to surround myself with some talented individuals.”
Garvey said Roy is the only reason he agreed to coach the boys golf team, and he would not consider doing it for anyone else.
“With his coaches, they’re a family and he’s like the patriarch who shows a lot of love and respect,” Garvey said.
Garvey was one of 10 inductees making up the 13th class of the NIAAA Hall of Fame honored in December. Garvey served as an athletic administrator for 24 years through 2018 with stops at Lawton, Delton Kellogg, Otsego and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep. He received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2015 and Charles E. Forsythe Award in 2020. He also was an assistant coach on two MHSAA Finals wrestling championship teams and as head coach led Lawton to the Class D title in 1990.
Garvey has been an active member of both the MIAAA and NIAAA and the Michigan Wrestling Coaches Association, and a member of the faculty for the NIAAA’s Leadership Training Institute while also serving as Michigan’s coordinator for the program. In retirement, he has continued to contribute to school sports in a variety of other ways as well including as a meet manager of the MHSAA’s Team Wrestling Finals at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.
Among additional accolades at the state and national levels, Garvey received the NIAAA’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award and the George Lovich State Award of Merit in 2009 from the MIAAA.
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy gives much credit to his secretary Rhonda VanderKamp, his assistant during the entirety of his two decades at the school. (Middle) Roy takes a minute to take a photo with Donald Duck during a conference in Orlando, Fla. (Below) Roy and his children Harper and Ryker await the presentation of his MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award. (Photos courtesy of Mike Roy.)
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.