CAP Begins 2014-15 on Record Pace

August 22, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Gretchen Mohney has come to recognize coaches who think they already know it all.

Then she begins a Coaches Advancement Program lesson by describing an orange banging around inside a fishbowl – a metaphor to explain the brain inside an athlete’s skull when he or she suffers a concussion.

Her most powerful lessons have moved pupils to tears. And it’s always gratifying to witness the “Aha” moments that make the CAP educational experience so powerful.

“My favorite is when they admit that they’ve done something wrong, and they want to know how to do something better,” said Mohney, a highly-respected trainer and strength and conditioning coach who also serves as an instructor for the athletic training program at Western Michigan University. “It’s a pretty awesome moment when they realize there’s more to learn.”

More current and aspiring coaches than ever before are taking advantage of that opportunity as the 2014-15 school year kicks off. 

Since this training year began July 25 at Battle Creek Lakeview, 273 current or aspiring coaches have completed CAP sessions – nearly twice as many coaches as this point a year ago and with the last session of August planned for Saturday at New Buffalo. That makes this the busiest start in CAP history, according to MHSAA assistant director Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, who joined the MHSAA staff in 2004, developed CAP for the 2004-05 school year and continues to oversee the program.

This first month’s total attendance also represents 33 percent of the 818 total CAP units completed at high schools and the MHSAA office during all of 2013-14.

“I think the big thing continues to be word of mouth that this is a quality program,” said Hamilton athletic director Jerry Haggerty, a CAP instructor for nine years. “It’s good for all coaches of all experience levels.”

Setting a standard

Since the program’s inception, nearly 6,300 coaches have completed at least the first-level unit. More than 1,000 have advanced through CAP 4.

The CAP program is broken into six levels, each addressing a set of topics:

  • CAP 1: Coaches Make the Difference, The Coach as Teacher, Sports Medicine and First Aid.

  • CAP 2: Effective Communication, Legal Responsibilities, Psychology of Coaching.

  • CAP 3: Additional Coaching Responsibilities, Effectively Working with Parents, The Coach as Performer.

  • CAP 4: Understanding Athletic Development, Strength and Conditioning, Preparing for Success.

  • CAP 5: Healthy Living, Teaching Emotional Toughness, Resolving Conflicts in Athletics.

  • CAP 6: Current Issues and Topics in Educational Athletics.

“Individuals who go through this have a better understanding of their philosophy, their school’s philosophy, their role and responsibility as well as the meaning behind MHSAA rules,” said Westdorp, a former principal, athletic director, teacher and coach in the Grand Rapids area who was named 2013 Coach Educator of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for her work with the program.

She trains and evaluates all presenters and instructors, including those who last school year administered 1,238 CAP sessions at seven universities and colleges across both peninsulas.

The non-college CAP sessions are taught by 20 instructors who pride themselves on being available anywhere there’s interest. CAP has been presented at 10 Lower Peninsula schools over the last month, with Upper Peninsula sessions planned for this fall. August 9 was particularly busy – units were taught at Jonesville, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Riverview Gabriel Richard – but Westdorp sees the possibility of presenting at up to five sites on the same day.

Flexibility also is an option; a group of mostly non-school coaches took CAP 2 last week in Baldwin, and were able to complete the course over two days instead of one so they could do so without interrupting their fulltime jobs. For coaches working in schools, CAP units can qualify as continuing education credits with the State Department of Education.

Colleges and universities in Michigan are licensed to present up to five levels through their undergraduate or graduate studies, and the list of those who completed courses the last few years is filled with recognizable names of former high achievers on MHSAA courts and fields. Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac will offer courses for the first time this fall.

Certification in the program occurs after completion of CAP 1 and 2, and then after each subsequent unit, with those completing CAP 6 earning Masters Elite Certification.

The topics of CAP sessions “bleed” into each other, Mohney said, and come with plenty of first-person examples to make them relevant to coaches who then realize they aren’t alone facing issues most encounter.

“I talk to them because I’ve been there. … (I say,) ‘Now, let’s talk real.’ I place them in a real situation,” Mohney said. “’The biggest thing is you guys don’t have to know everything. You just need to coach, be aware of this, this and that. And these are some ideas to go about your plan so you can decrease your stress.’

“Any time a coach hears that, it’s a beautiful thing. Because I’m not sure what coach in high school is in coaching for the money.”

Raising the bar

Certainly, some of this month’s heightened CAP participation can be attributed to an MHSAA Representative Council action in March. Beginning Aug. 1, 2016, varsity head coaches hired for the first time at an MHSAA member school must have completed CAP 1 or CAP 2. Westdorp said some who wish to become head coaches in that near future are getting a jump by completing CAP courses now.

But that’s only a slice of the success story.

Haggerty has directed Hamilton’s athletic department for 15 years and said all of his coaches have taken either CAP 1 or 2. Many coaches take the courses on their own; others are required to do so by their athletic directors.

The Capital Area Activities Conference will offer CAP 1 three times this school year, with 100-150 coaches from their 20 member schools expected for each session. Others leagues and conferences are designing similar arrangements.

Michael Roy coached boys basketball at Lawton and girls hoops at Vicksburg and was certified under the predecessor to CAP – the MHSAA’s former Program for Athletic Coaches’ Education (PACE). He’s beginning his 13th year as Vicksburg’s athletic director, and after hosting several CAP classes over the years decided to begin the program himself this month.

“The need for knowledgeable and experienced coaches is greater than ever before. I thought if I was going to make it mandatory for my coaches to become CAP certified, that I needed to get CAP certified and lead by example,” Roy said. “The heart of any athletic team or program is its coaching staff.  CAP is the surest way for coaches to access everything they need to know how to be a good coach. They learn the art of effective coaching through one of the best-designed coaches education programs in the country. CAP is second to none.”  

Haggerty has spoken with athletic directors who have completed the program and then recognize when their coaches employ strategies learned at CAP sessions. An increasing pool of coaching candidates are heading into interviews with CAP certification in hand, and Westdorp has seen coaches bringing their CAP binders to practices to have those lessons available for quick reference. She’s also watched many CAP graduates using their skills at the highest level – the MHSAA Finals.

A comment by Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski sits at the front of those CAP binders: “A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on x’s and o’s as compared to time spent learning about people.” 

Haggerty starts each session telling his pupils, “I do this for two reasons; one because I think it’s important to look at the non-x and o coaching realms; and two, because this is great fun for me.’”

And those coaches who come into CAP thinking they know enough? Mohney said most finish the first unit looking forward to beginning the next.

“CAP has a lot to do with understanding what you’re about, understanding your role and responsibility in athletics and your leadership role,” Westdorp said. “When I start programs, I talk about my work roles in life, and then (I tell coaches), ‘I want to tell you where I felt I was more influential, and that was as a coach.

“’And don’t ever forget it..’”

Click for more on the Coaches Advancement Program.

PHOTOS: These coaches, counter-clockwise from top left, all have completed at least one CAP unit: Bay City Western softball coach Rick Garlinghouse, St. Ignace girls basketball coach Dorene Ingalls, Ypsilanti Community boys basketball coach Steve Brooks, Beal City baseball coach Brad Antcliff and Mattawan softball coach Alicia Smith. 

2023 Forsythe Award Celebrates Leinaar's 40 Years Dedicated to School Sports

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.