East Grand Rapids’ Tim Johnston, Maple City Glen Lake’s Mark Mattson, Vicksburg’s Michael Roy and Gaylord’s Christian Wilson all lead programs that frequently earn headlines for success in competition.
But these four athletic directors also are known in their local and statewide sports communities for the positive experiences they help provide students, their own as well as those who take part in the same leagues or tournament events they frequently host.
To honor their often unsung work in creating these experiences for athletes, all four have been named recipients of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Allen W. Bush Award for 2020.
Al Bush served as executive director of the MHSAA for 10 years. The award honors individuals for past and continuing service to prep athletics as a coach, administrator, official, trainer, doctor or member of the media. The award was developed to bring recognition to men and women who are giving and serving without a lot of attention. This is the 29th year of the award, with selections made by the MHSAA's Representative Council.
“Leaders among peers, ceaseless dedication, never saying ‘no’ when needed – these are how this year’s Bush Award honorees are described by their colleagues, and how we’ve come to know them as well,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “What they give willingly for school sports goes far beyond awards they’ve received, and at the same time often receives little attention. We’re delighted to recognize all of their continuing contributions.”
Johnston has begun his 39th year in education, with the last eight for East Grand Rapids Public Schools, where he has led one of the state’s most successful athletic programs – EGR, which offers 34 varsity sports, was named a Michigan Exemplary Athletic Program in 2018 by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Johnson was chosen as his region’s Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA in 2017. He previously served as a teacher and coach at Grand Rapids Catholic Central, and then as an athletic director and principal at Hastings.
He has made significant contributions to Michigan’s largest high school league, having served as president, vice president, secretary and realignment chairperson for the Ottawa-Kent Conference, and hosted various MHSAA Tournament competitions for the District, Regional and Finals rounds. Johnston also has served on multiple MHSAA sport committees and its board of canvassers, and as part of the Scholar-Athlete Award selection committee. Additionally, he has served as an instructor for the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program (CAP) and as a program presenter at conferences for both the MIAAA and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) – and served as Michigan’s delegate to the latter.
After graduating from Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Johnston earned an associate degree from Grand Rapids Junior College and a bachelor’s from Grand Valley State University, and then a master’s in education leadership from Michigan State University. He earned his certified athletic administrator (CAA) designation from the NIAAA.
“Tim has always been incredibly positive in advocating for kids,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “I’ve known Tim for years as a principal and as an athletic director, and there’s absolutely no one who better sees the big picture of how academics and athletics fit together.”
Mattson is into his 22nd year coaching, teaching or serving as an administrator in Michigan high schools, and in his second tenure as athletic director at Maple City Glen Lake. He previously served in the same role and others at Marquette High School for 11 years and then as athletic director at Traverse City Central before returning to Glen Lake as athletic director and assistant principal. He also coached and taught in Rhinelander, Wis., to begin his career, and served as an undergrad men’s basketball assistant coach at Northern Michigan University.
Mattson also is a frequent MHSAA Tournament host and participated on sport committees for skiing, football, basketball, cross country and track & field, and has served as an MIAAA regional representative and as secretary for the Big North Conference. He received MIAAA regional Athletic Director of the Year awards in both 2008 and 2018, and was selected as the Upper Peninsula Athletic Director of the Year in 2006.
A current member of the MHSAA Representative Council – representing Class C and D schools in the northern Lower Peninsula – Mattson is a graduate of L’Anse High School and earned his bachelor’s degree and then his master’s in educational administration both from NMU. While at NMU and into his tenure at Marquette, Mattson also was a registered MHSAA official in football and basketball for a decade and briefly for softball and volleyball.
“Mark, having served his career in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, always brings a unique perspective on how the largest schools survive in northern Michigan,” Uyl said. “Schools like Marquette and Traverse City Central face a unique challenge. He’s always been an advocate for schools with those unique circumstances – but also for all schools up north, and especially now as part of the Representative Council.”
Roy is a graduate of Paw Paw High School who returned to Michigan after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees – the latter in curriculum and instruction – at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he also was a member of the football team for two years. He is into his 22nd year as an athletic administrator, serving three years at Lawton before joining the Vicksburg administration at the start of the 2001-02 school year. He has hosted more than 100 MHSAA postseason events and numerous CAP sessions while also serving as a CAP instructor, and his Vicksburg program received the Exemplary Athletic Program award in 2020.
Roy served as president of the MIAAA during the 2019-20 school year and has made vast contributions as part of the athletic directors’ professional organization with more than 15 years as a regional representative and 10 times serving as the state’s NIAAA delegate at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) national conference. He has served more than a decade as a Leadership Training Institute instructor for the MIAAA and as part of the NIAAA national teaching faculty.
He has received three certifications from the NIAAA including the certified master athletic administrator designation in 2005. Roy was named his region’s Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA in 2009 and state Athletic Director of the Year in 2012 – when he was also a finalist for national Athletic Director of the Year from the National High School Coaches Association.
“Mike has been incredibly giving with his time, especially with his leadership with the MIAAA,” Uyl said. “He has a can-do attitude, whether it be in hosting events or with other problem-solving he’s provided our entire MHSAA staff over many years.”
Wilson is into his 19th year in education, serving as athletic director and assistant principal for Gaylord Community schools; he also briefly served as athletic director at Novi High School and as high school athletic director in Mount Gilead, Ohio, and taught in Auburndale, Wis.
Wilson also is a frequent host of MHSAA Tournament events – he hosted more than 10 during the 2019-20 school year alone – and also has served on various MHSAA committees. He has served as president of the Big North Conference and provided his expertise to the local Little League and youth football boards. He was named his region’s Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA in 2016.
A graduate of Chassell High School, Wilson then earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University and a master’s in athletic administration from Western Michigan University. Prior to beginning his career in education, Wilson served as an assistant men’s basketball coach at both Michigan Technological University and Western Michigan. He played at Michigan Tech before finishing his career at NMU.
“Christian has been a successful administrator for many years because of his outstanding temperament and the way he connects with people,” Uyl said. “He’s someone who takes the work seriously, but never takes himself too seriously. He has served as a mentor to so many, and he’s very gifted at building relationships. At the end of the day, that’s what our business is about – those relationships.”
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.
Lowell’s Deanne Crowley, Owosso’s Dallas Lintner and Fenton’s Mitch Smelis all have provided more than two decades of service to Michigan educational athletics, Crowley as a highly-regarded coach and administrator, Lintner also as an administrator and educational leader and Smelis as an athletic trainer and prominent voice in the sports medicine community especially in its service to school sports.
To recognize their significant and continued contributions to educational athletics, Crowley, Lintner and Smelis have been named recipients of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Allen W. Bush Award for 2022.
Al Bush served as executive director of the MHSAA for 10 years. The award honors individuals for past and continuing service to school athletics as a coach, administrator, official, trainer, doctor or member of the media. The award was developed to bring recognition to people who are giving and serving without a lot of attention. This is the 31st year of the award, with selections made by the MHSAA's Representative Council.
Crowley began her coaching career at Lake Odessa Lakewood in 1987 with subvarsity basketball, and she took over Lowell’s girls varsity program in 2000 after previously beginning her teaching career there in 1998. She remained the Red Arrows’ coach through 2006, that season leading her team to the Class A Semifinals – and she also was named Class A Coach of Year in 2004 by The Associated Press. Crowley became an assistant principal at Lowell in 2010 and the high school’s athletic director in 2013.
She earned her certified athletic administrator designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) in 2018 and was named Region 4 Athletic Director of the Year this past school year by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Previously, she was named Athletic Director of the Year by the Michigan Wrestling Association for the 2018-19 school year and by the West Michigan Officials Association in 2021. Crowley also is a significant contributor to Lowell’s nationally-recognized Pink Arrow Pride program that raises funds annually for cancer awareness, education and support within the Lowell community; she organizes and coordinates the education program, which among other goals provides scholarships for Lowell graduates pursuing careers in medicine. She also was a co-founder in 2000 of the Lady Arrows Varsity Club, which provides leadership training for female student-athletes who have earned a varsity letter.
Crowley graduated from Lakewood High School in 1983 and earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Western Michigan University in 1997 and a master’s in educational administration from Michigan State University in 2002.
“I have known Dee for over 20 years, and she has always been incredibly dedicated to finding opportunities for all students, especially female student-athletes,” Uyl said. “Her years as a coach and administrator have shown a solid record of finding ways for kids to compete.”
Lintner is returning to Owosso High School as principal this fall after finishing the second half of 2021-22 as interim athletic director at Fenton High School. He first joined the staff at Owosso as a teacher in 2001-02, went to Linden as athletic director for two years beginning with fall of 2008, then returned to Owosso as athletic director and assistant principal from 2010 through the 2020-21 school year. He served as principal at Owosso Lincoln High School last school year until leaving for Fenton.
Education has been a focus of Lintner’s work, and he received a doctorate in educational leadership from University of Michigan-Flint in 2017. He has a certified master athletic administrator designation and has served as a leadership training instructor for the NIAAA since 2015. He also has served as a facilitator for the Love and Logic parenting program.
Lintner has been an active participant with the MIAAA as well, serving as its constitution committee chairperson since 2009. He was a member of the executive board from 2015-20, including serving as president during the 2018-19 school year. As athletic director, he was a frequent host of MHSAA postseason events and a contributor to various committees, and he previously was an MHSAA registered official for track & field and coach in multiple sports. Prior to earning his doctorate, Lintner graduated from Vassar High School in 1995, then earned a bachelor's degree in education from Saginaw Valley State University in 2000 and a master’s in athletic administration from Central Michigan University in 2005.
“Dallas has provided years of solid leadership in Owosso,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “This consistent approach has led to numerous improvements, and during his tenure as athletic director his school won its first state championship, with the softball program (in 2021).”
Smelis has served as an athletic trainer for 25 years with Fenton Area Public Schools, for the last decade through NovaCare Rehabilitation. He was named High School Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society (MATS) in 2017 and serves as co-chairperson of its Secondary School Committee.
Also a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and Great Lakes Athletic Trainers Association (GLATA), Smelis has become a key connection between the training community and MHSAA. He has contributed as a MATS liaison on multiple MHSAA sport committees, and serves on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and as an instructor for the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program (CAP). He also has presented at the MIAAA’s annual and summer conferences on a variety of physical health and safety and mental health topics.
Smelis graduated from Imlay City High School in 1991 and earned a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine from Central Michigan University in 1997. He is a certified American Heart Association instructor for CPR, first aid and basic life support and has served as lead instructor in CPR and first aid for Fenton’s coaches and staff.
“Mitch has been incredibly dedicated to keeping kids safe while playing all sports,” Uyl said. “He also has been responsible for further strengthening the good relationship between the MHSAA and Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society, and he continues to provide valuable insight as part of our coaches education efforts.”