Bush Honorees' Impacts Can't Be Missed
June 24, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Detroit’s Vic Michaels, Novi’s Brian Gordon, Bronson’s Jean LaClair and Portland’s Kevin Veale all have impacted high school students as teachers, coaches and administrators over decades in their respectively communities. To honor their often unsung work in creating athletic opportunities, all four have been named recipients of the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award for 2019.
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 28th year of the award, with selections made by the MHSAA's Representative Council.
“The Bush Award was created to recognize the frequent behind-the-scenes efforts that go into creating worthwhile experiences for Michigan high school athletes. But it’s impossible to not see the impacts this year’s honorees have made in their communities,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We are pleased to honor them and celebrate their work in promoting educational athletics and all of its benefits.”
Michaels, who has served as director of the Detroit Catholic High School League since 2003, is the longest-serving director in Catholic League history and one of only seven directors since its formation in 1926. He came to the Archdiocese of Detroit league office as associate director in 1995 after serving as athletic director, assistant principal, teacher and coach at Center Line St. Clement since 1978. He coached St. Clement’s boys basketball varsity from 1978-95 and the girls varsity from 1980-85 and earned Coach of the Year recognition leading both programs.
As director of the Catholic League, Michaels oversees all aspects of competition for 27 schools across 30 sports, in addition to the Catholic Schools Office of Health, Athletics, Physical Education and Safety. While his local imprint is large, he provides expertise at the statewide level as well. Michaels has represented non-public schools on the MHSAA Representative Council since 2003 and serves as the Council’s secretary-treasurer and as part of its Executive Committee. He served as president of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) in 2008 and also has held roles of vice president, secretary and board member. He’s served as coordinator for the Southeast Michigan Leagues Advisory Council (SEMLAC) and on various MHSAA sport and officials selection committees.
Michaels was named statewide Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA and received a regional award from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) in 2010 after previously being chosen for MIAAA regional recognition in 2001. While at St. Clement, Michaels was named Catholic League Athletic Director of the Year in 1988 and inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame in 1990. Michaels graduated from Detroit St. Ambrose High School, then attended Detroit Institute of Technology and finished his bachelor’s degree at University of Detroit Mercy. He earned his certified athletic administrator (CAA) designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA).
“Vic Michaels is as good a leader as we have in high school sports in our state,” Uyl said. “While he represents the private and parochial schools on the Representative Council, he works with everybody and sees the big picture – but also can get to a granular level with our rules, which he knows inside and out. He is one of the most insightful voices in Michigan educational athletics.”
Gordon is completing his third decade in education, have begun as a physical education and health teacher for Royal Oak Schools in 1990. He moved into the athletic director/assistant principal role in 2010 and then became director of athletic and physical education at Novi High School in 2012. He’s taught at the elementary and middle school levels, and supervised physical education and served as a health advisory chairperson at the district level. Including a season while still a college student, he also has coached baseball, football, basketball and track & field from the junior high to varsity levels, including a stint as Royal Oak Kimball and Royal Oak High varsity baseball coach from 1995-2010. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
At Novi, Gordon oversees the athletic program for more than 1,700 students in grades 7-12, plus more than 140 coaches. He has made Novi a home for playoff events, hosting more than 150 league and MHSAA tournament competitions at all levels including Boys Tennis and Girls Lacrosse Finals this spring and the 115-team Oakland County Track Meet multiple times. Under his leadership, Novi has hosted multiple levels of the MHSAA Coaches Advancement Program (CAP), and he has served on a variety of sport, officials and site selection committees for the Association in addition to local committee work. He also is a major promoter of Special Olympics Unified Sports in his community and league, hosting his conference’s first basketball tournament this past winter.
Gordon was named Oakland County Athletic Director of the Year for this school year by the Oakland County Athletic Directors Association, and he served as the OCADA president in 2014-15 and on its board from 2010-16. He’s served as vice president of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association and president of the Kensington Conference since 2012. Gordon has been a member of the MIAAA since 2008 and NIAAA since 2010, and was named a Regional Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA in 2018. He graduated from Clawson High School and earned his bachelor’s degree at Central Michigan University and master’s in sports administration and school leadership from Wayne State University. He also has achieved CAA status.
“Brian Gordon is one of the most positive people I’ve met in athletics,” Uyl said. “From his days coaching in Royal Oak to his move into an athletic director role, he’s always championed kids and school sports. He always sees what we do as a glass half full – and his willingness to host absolutely anything shows his continuing commitment to this work.”
LaClair is one of the most successful volleyball coaches in Michigan high school history, ranking fifth all-time for wins with a record of 1,180-361-96 at Midland Dow, Pinconning and most recently Bronson. She took over the Vikings’ program in the fall of 2000 and has led Bronson to five MHSAA championships, with its Division 3 title this past fall the varsity team’s fourth straight. She also led Pinconning to a Class B runner-up finish in 1997-98. LaClair has received various coaching honors and in 2017 was a finalist for the NHSACA’s national volleyball Coach of the Year award.
While best-known for her achievements on court, LaClair has served 24 years as a highly-respected athletic administrator and assistant principal at Bronson High School. She received the MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Award in 2015 and previously had spoken at WISL conferences in 2006 and 2008. She has hosted a variety of MHSAA tournament events in addition to sitting on a number of MHSAA and MIAAA committees. She also has instructed at MHSAA CAP sessions and been a registered game official for 18 years. LaClair received the George Lovich State Award of Merit this year for her leadership and standing within the MIAAA and NIAAA. She also was named a Regional Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA in 2009.
In addition to the national coaching recognition mentioned above, LaClair was inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and has served as MIVCA’s president, vice president and on its board. She also was inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017. LaClair is a graduate of Midland Dow High School and Saginaw Valley State University, and earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Central Michigan University. She has earned the Certified Master Athletic Administrator (CMAA) designation.
“As an athletic director, Jean is incredibly consistent,” Uyl said. “Her leadership as an athletic director is so effective because she knows what matters in school sports and she treats all programs the same, including the volleyball program. That isn’t always easy when an athletic director also is a coach, and that consistency is really impressive.”
Veale is completing his 19th year as Portland Public Schools athletic director after previously teaching and serving as the girls track & field coach and as a football assistant at the high school. He has initiated a variety of efforts during his two decades in the district, founding the high school’s coaches association, captains’ club and athletic Hall of Fame among sports-related endeavors. He also has served as a volunteer coach for local recreation teams and given his time to assist in various community events. But his influence has stretched as well to league, regional and statewide levels.
Veale has served in leadership roles in multiple leagues over his tenure, as executive secretary for the Ingham County League in 2001-02 and then president of the Capital Area Activities Conference in 2008-09. He’s hosted at Portland more than 100 MHSAA postseason events from the District-Quarterfinal levels, while also serving on multiple MHSAA committees including assisting in selection of MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award winners. He served as membership committee chairperson for the MIAAA in 2005-06 and has been part of its scholarship committee since 2008.
Veale graduated from Iron Mountain High School and earned bachelor and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University, the latter in athletic administration. He also has achieved CAA designation and was named an MIAAA Regional Athletic Director of the Year in 2010.
“Kevin has really become the face of Portland Raiders athletics after 19 years in that community,” Uyl said. “He brings a great deal of positivity and high energy to the job every day. His teams have had great success, and he’s another administrator who sees all programs being equally important.”
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.
Rep Council Adjusts, Expands Out-of-State Competition Opportunities at Spring Meeting
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 12, 2023
Substantial changes to the rules governing out-of-state competition by Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools were among the most notable actions taken by the MHSAA’s Representative Council during its annual Spring Meeting, May 6-7 in Gaylord.
The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,500 member schools is generally the busiest of its sessions each year. The Council considered 31 committee proposals and dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.
The most far-reaching changes approved by the Council shifts the MHSAA rules regarding competitions against out-of-state opponents. Moving forward, MHSAA member schools may continue to compete against teams from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario – but also may compete against teams from elsewhere in the United States as long as those competitions take place in Michigan, one of those five contiguous states or Ontario. The Council voted to remove the allowance for MHSAA member schools to travel up to 300 miles to play an out-of-state opponent; MHSAA member schools still can compete against those opponents, but competition must take place in Michigan or one of the states/province listed above. Any event including schools from outside of Michigan or those contiguous states/province must receive approval by the MHSAA and each state high school association with a team involved in order for MHSAA member schools to be allowed to participate.
In an effort to strengthen the undue influence regulation, the Council approved a change making it a violation for coaches or their representatives to connect via social media with students from another high school or with a student prior to ninth grade who has not yet enrolled in a high school or participated in an athletic practice or competition as a high school student. Violations of this rule include connecting via social media with a “follow,” “friend request” or “direct message” to a student. The Council also expanded the portion of the undue influence regulation that doesn’t allow coaches and representatives to visit prospective athletes and their families at the families’ homes to not allow them to visit athletes and families at “other locations” as well.
The Council approved an expansion in the use of video to determine penalties when there is a bench-clearing situation or other incident where team members enter the area of competition during an altercation. MHSAA staff, based on video evidence, will be allowed to assess additional penalties including ejections and suspensions to team members, coaches and other staff who enter those areas to participate or engage in such an altercation.
Concerning specific sports, changes to three stand out from several adopted by the Council.
The Council approved three Bowling Committee recommendations affecting postseason competition in that sport. The first reorganizes Regional competition to eight sites, with each qualifying the top two teams and top seven singles for both girls and boys competitions to the Finals (instead of the previous six sites qualifying three teams and 10 singles for both girls and boys). The Council also approved a proposal to change the Team Finals match play to a head-to-head, best-of-five Baker game format. Finally, the Council approved a proposal to adopt the Phantom II oil pattern for all MHSAA Tournament competitions.
In girls volleyball, the Council approved a Volleyball Committee recommendation to begin seeding the top two teams in each District beginning with the 2024-25 school year. As is done currently with girls and boys basketball and girls and boys soccer, the top-two seeded teams in each District will be placed on opposite sides of the bracket, guaranteeing they will not play each other before the District Final. Seeding will be determined using the Michigan Power Rating (MPR) formula which takes into account regular-season success and strength of schedule. MPR is used to seed Districts in the same way in basketball and soccer.
In wrestling, the Council approved a Wrestling Committee recommendation adding two regular-season dual meets to the allowed number of wrestling contest dates. These must be dual meets and may not be converted into three-team (tri) or four-team (quad) meets. Teams and individuals now will be allowed 16 days of competition with no more than eight of those days allowed for tournament-type events where a wrestler competes more than twice.
Here is a summary of other notable actions taken by the Representative Council at the Spring Meeting, which will take effect during the 2023-24 school year unless noted:
• The Council approved a classification-related change for the MHSAA’s smallest member schools, allowing them to request participation of eighth and seventh-grade students, based on the high school’s enrollment. Schools with fewer than 125 students (instead of the previous 100) may request an MHSAA Executive Committee waiver to use eighth-grade students in all sports except football, ice hockey and wrestling. Schools with fewer than 75 students (instead of the previous 50) may make the same request to use seventh and eighth-grade students in all sports except those three. Schools requesting a waiver must show cause and rationale for those students’ participation.
• The Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee proposal requiring middle school head coaches to have valid, current CPR certification. Similar to the high school requirements for head coaches at all levels, this addition at the middle school level will ensure each team has at least one coach at each level present who is CPR-certified. This requirement will take effect with the 2024-25 school year, and schools will attest to its completion by the established deadline for each season.
• The Council approved an Officials Review Committee recommendation adjusting the minimum requirements for postseason consideration in wrestling, competitive cheer and soccer. In wrestling, officials must receive 75 coaches ratings (instead of the previous 100) to be considered for working a postseason meet. In girls competitive cheer, judges must be members in good standing of a Local Approved Association. In soccer, officials must work a minimum of five regular-season games (down from the previous 10) to be considered for the postseason.
• The Council also approved a Committee recommendation increasing the amount paid when an official arrives on site prior to a competition before receiving notice that competition has been canceled due to an “act of God” including weather that results in unplayable conditions. In these situations, officials will receive one-half of the contract fee (instead of the previous one-third).
• For baseball, the Council approved a change to when trophies will be awarded to Regional champions. Those trophies will be presented to both Regional champions after the Quarterfinal is concluded, as Regional Finals and the ensuing Quarterfinal are played at the same site on the same day and both Quarterfinal participants will have earned a Regional championship earlier that day.
• In addition to the Regional and Finals changes for bowling explained above, the Council also approved a Bowling Committee proposal seeking common start dates for practice and competition for Lower and Upper Peninsula teams. For the 2023-24 season, bowling teams in both peninsulas will begin practice Nov. 9 and competition Nov. 25. Previously, Upper Peninsula teams were allowed to begin their seasons slightly earlier – this past season four days sooner for practice and a week earlier for competition than their Lower Peninsula counterparts.
• The Council also approved a start date change in girls competitive cheer, proposed by the Competitive Cheer Committee, moving the practice start date to the second Monday before Thanksgiving. This shortens the season by one week, but also allows a more comfortable gap between the fall sideline cheer and winter competitive cheer seasons. This change will take effect with the 2024-25 school year.
• Also in cheer, the Council approved a Committee recommendation that adjusts the restricted period at the end of competitive cheer season to the Monday following Memorial Day, which will allow athletes to try out for sideline cheerleading for the upcoming season after the completion of the majority of spring-sport competitions.
• Additionally, the Council approved an exception to the MHSAA’s all-star regulation that will allow for individual competitive cheer and sideline cheer athletes to participate in an event that is “all-star” in name only as long as the selection components of the event comply with MHSAA regulations.
• In cross country and track & field, the Council approved Cross Country/Track & Field Committee recommendations to eliminate a pair of uniform-related rules adaptations designating the types of head attire that previously could be worn during cross country races and body adornments that previously were allowed to be worn during competitions in both sports.
• In golf, the Council approved a Golf Committee recommendation to require athletes to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that athlete’s school team in an MHSAA postseason golf competition. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hold events.
• A Council action in gymnastics will better define how athletes are assigned a division for the individual portion of the MHSAA Finals. Athletes are assigned either Division 1 or Division 2 based on past experience and skill level – Division 1 for those with the most – and the Council approved the allowance of the Xcel levels of Sapphire and Diamond to be part of the determining criteria. Athletes who have previously competed in a non-school event at either of these levels would be required to compete in the Division 1 level for MHSAA postseason competition.
• In tennis, the Council approved a Tennis Committee recommendation allowing in the Lower Peninsula for a No. 1 doubles pair from a non-qualifying team to advance from Regional to Finals competition if that pair finishes first or second at the Regional and the No. 1 singles player from that team also has qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play. (Upper Peninsula tennis does not play a Regional.)
• The Council approved a Swimming & Diving Committee recommendation restructuring how qualifying times for Finals are determined in an effort to provide more entries in swimming events at the championship level. Moving forward, qualifying times will be determined based on the past five years of MHSAA race data, but also will account for past numbers of qualifiers in each swim race; qualifying times will be shifted to allow for more athletes to advance to the Finals in events where fields have not been full over the previous five seasons.
• The second swimming & diving recommendation approved by the Council assigned specific breaks during Finals competitions. During Friday preliminaries (swam in the Lower Peninsula only), 10-minute breaks will be placed between the 200-yard medley relay and 200 freestyle races, and between the 200 freestyle relay and 100 backstroke, with a 15-minute break between the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. The same 10-minute breaks will be mandated for Saturday Finals competitions, with a 15-minute break during Finals coming between the conclusion of diving and 100 butterfly races.
• For girls volleyball, the Council also approved a Volleyball Committee recommendation to permit the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA) a 3-minute on-court presentation during the MHSAA Finals to recognize that season’s Miss Volleyball Award winner. The presentation will take place between the second and third sets of the Division 1 championship match.
Junior High/Middle School
• The Council voted to make permanent cross country and track & field competitions that have been conducted at a Regional level as part of a pilot program during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years. The Council also voted to expand the number of sites per Junior High/Middle School Regional to allow for large-school (Divisions 1 and 2) and small-school (Divisions 3 and 4) meets for each of the eight Zones. Each participating junior high and middle school will be classified for its Regional meet based on the enrollment of the high school with which the junior high/middle school is connected.
The Council also reviewed reports on membership, with 750 senior high schools and 767 junior high/middle schools in 2022-22 plus 63 elementary schools with 6th-grader participation; cooperative programs, with 376 high school programs for 692 teams during 2023-23; eligibility advancement applications, which totaled three; the use of Educational Transfer Forms, of which there were 127; school violations, attendance at athletic director in-service workshops and Coaches Advancement Program sessions; officials’ registrations, rules meetings attendance and officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons. The Association’s $13.3 million budget for the 2023-24 school year also was approved.
The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
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 1.3 million spectators each year.