43 Percent of Athletes are Multi-Sport
August 19, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Nearly 43 percent of athletes at MHSAA member high schools continued to participate in two or more sports in 2018-19, according to the Multi-Sport Participation Survey, reinforcing similar data collected for the first time two years ago and providing a foundation for work by the MHSAA’s Multi-Sport Task Force as it prepares to continue efforts this fall to promote the multi-sport high school experience.
Early and intense sport specialization has become one of the most serious issues related to health and safety at all levels of youth sports, as overuse injuries and burnout among athletes have been tied to chronic injuries and health-related problems later in life. In early 2016, the MHSAA appointed the Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation as part of a continued effort to promote and protect participant health and address the issues leading to early sport specialization.
The multi-sport participation survey was created in 2018 to provide data on the prevalence of sport specialization at MHSAA member high schools. This year’s survey received responses from 82.9 percent of member high schools and measured how multi-sport participation exists at schools. The collection of survey results annually is expected to show how schools are succeeding in promoting a multi-sport high school experience, providing another tool as schools work to guide students toward a well-rounded interscholastic sports career.
From schools that responded to this year’s survey, 42.9 percent of students participated in athletics in 2018-19 – 46.3 percent of boys and 39.5 percent of girls. The overall participation number was up nearly half a percent from 2017-18 (42.5), with the boys percentage holding steady and the girls increasing nearly a full percent from a year ago. Class D schools – those with the smallest enrollments – again enjoyed the highest percentage of athletes among the entire student body, at 57.1 percent, followed by Class C (50.7), Class B (45.8) and Class A (39.4).
Of those athletes counted by responding schools, 43 percent participated in more than one sport – including 45.1 percent of boys and 40.4 percent of girls – with all three of those percentages nearly identical to those derived from the first survey a year ago. Class D again enjoyed the highest percentage of multi-sport athletes, 61.8 percent, followed by Class C (56.7), Class B (48.7) and Class A (35.4).
Similar results for overall sport participation and multi-sport participation relative to enrollment size were seen by further breaking down Class A into schools of fewer than 1,000 students, 1,000-1,500 students, 1,501-2,000 students and more than 2,000 students. Similarly to 2017-18 for both sport participation as a whole and multi-sport participation specifically, the smallest Class A schools continued to enjoy the highest percentages, while percentages then decreased for every larger size group of schools.
Also of note, the percentage of two-sport athletes at every school measure around one-third of athletes – from 29.2 percent at Class A schools to 35.7 at Class B, 37.2 at Class C and 35.6 at Class D. However the number of athletes participating in three sports decreased substantially relative to the increase in school enrollment, with 22.5 percent of Class D athletes playing three sports, 18.2 in Class C, 12.4 in Class B and 6.0 percent in Class A.
The MHSAA Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation will be meeting this fall to discuss creating a program to measure multi-sport participation at MHSAA member schools and to recognize “achievers” – that is, schools that surpass the norm given their enrollment and other factors that affect school sports participation.
For 2018-19, in Class A, Marquette posted the highest percentage of multi-sport athletes with 85.9 percent, up 3.3 percent from its top-ranking Class A percentage from 2017-18. Grand Rapids Northview also topped 80 percent multi-sport participation, with 83.1 percent of its athletes playing two or more sports. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Detroit East English and Gibraltar Carlson all saw multi-sport participation from at least 70 percent of their athletes.
In Class B, four schools again achieved at least 80 percent multi-sport participation – Coloma (87.2 percent), Gladstone (86.7), Flat Rock (83.2) and Dundee (80.2), while 10 schools had 70 percent or more athletes playing at least two sports.
Six Class C schools reported more than 80 percent of its athletes taking part in more than one sport – Schoolcraft (87.1), Mayville (86.2), Manton (85.3), Houghton Lake (84.9), Cass City (84.7) and Decatur (83.5) – and 12 schools total with 75 percent or more athletes participating in multiple sports. There were 14 Class D schools with multi-sport participation at 80.9 percent or higher, with Gaylord St. Mary (93.2), Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (91.5) and Watersmeet (90.3) topping the survey not just for Class D but among all schools that responded.
The full summary report on the Multi-Sport Participation Survey is available on the “Health & Safety” page of the MHSAA Website.
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.