2020 Bush Awards Honor Dedicated ADs
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
October 21, 2020
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.
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.