By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor
As we begin another calendar year, let's take a brief look at how the mission of school sports has (or hasn’t) changed since 1955, when former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe presented this practicum to the University of Michigan.
The following is an excerpt:
Presented by Charles E. Forsythe
Practicum in Physical Education
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Tuesday, June 21, 1955
WHY DO WE HAVE INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETICS IN OUR SCHOOLS?
- To meet the urge for competition which is a basic American tradition – let’s keep it.
- To provide a “whole school” interest and activity, bring in students other than athletes, enlist many student organizations.
- To teach students habits of health, sanitation, and safety.
- Athletics teach new skills and opportunities to improve those we have; this is basic educationally.
- To provide opportunities for lasting friendships both with teammates and opponents.
- To provide opportunity to exemplify and observe good sportsmanship which is good citizenship.
- Athletics give students a chance to enjoy one of America’s greatest heritages, the right to play and compete.
- One of the best ways to teach that a penalty follows the violation of a rule is through athletics.
- There must be an early understanding by students that participation in athletics is a privilege which carries responsibilities with it. Awarding school letter to a student is the second-highest recognition his school can give him – his diploma at graduation is the highest.
- To consider interscholastic athletic squad as “advanced” classes for the teaching of special skills – similar to bands, orchestras, school play casts, members of debating teams, etc. There is no reason why a reasonable amount of attention should not be given to such groups – as well as to those in the middle and lower quartiles in our schools. Both leaders and followers must be taught.
PHOTOS: (Top) Fans filled the arena for this MHSAA boys basketball tournament game. (Middle) Charles Forsythe served as the first executive director of the MHSAA.
Kent City cross country coach Jill Evers has been named the 2021-22 National Coach of the Year for girls cross country by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.
Evers was selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The following brief bio includes an excerpt from Evers’ coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.
Jill Evers joined the Kent City athletic staff as an assistant cross country coach in 1991 after previously coaching a season each at Allegan High School and Allegan Middle School. She took over Kent City’s girls and boys varsity cross country programs in 1993 and also has served as head girls track & field coach since 1993. She led Kent City’s girls cross country team to a Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final runner-up finish in 2021, the program’s second runner-up finish under her leadership, and she’s also guided Kent City’s girls program to 15 league and seven Regional titles and nine total top-eight Finals finishes. She previously was named an NFHS Section Coach of the Year for girls track & field in 2006 after leading Kent City’s girls track & field team to its first MHSAA Finals championship in that sport, and inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012. Evers also is a longtime science teacher at Kent City and advisor and mentor for a variety of school activities in addition to coaching.
“I know people say, ‘Athletics is an extension of the classroom,’ but I believe it's so much more than that. While participating in sports, young people can learn about themselves and others, challenge themselves and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Athletics is where we learn life lessons, such as how to lose with grace, cheer for teammates and even opponents, win with humility, deal with adversity, empathize with others, respect all those involved, be grateful for healthy bodies and opportunities to compete and push ourselves beyond what was originally thought possible. Success is different for each person, but I believe cross country lends itself to individual success. Everyone can improve and learn lifelong healthy habits. Everyone can set and achieve goals. Those who aren't as fast often earn the respect of the more gifted runners because of their perseverance. It is my job as a coach to encourage, motivate, and challenge all students who want to participate, and then congratulate them for a job well done.”
Three more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Mark Posey was honored in boys golf after leading Big Rapids to a 10th-place finish in Lower Peninsula Division 3 in 2022 after four straight Finals runner-up finishes. (There was no LP boys golf season in 2020 due to COVID-19.) Lake Orion boys lacrosse coach Ronald Hebert was honored after guiding his team to the Division 1 Quarterfinals last spring after taking the Dragons to the Semifinals in 2021. Scott Werner was honored in girls track & field after leading Pewamo-Westphalia to a runner-up finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. P-W shared the LPD3 Finals championship in 2021 and has won titles four of the last nine seasons (not counting 2020).
The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.