By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its commitment today to play Winter sports when current restrictions are lifted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
Winter contact sports – girls and boys basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling – are allowed presently to participate in non-contact activities only, per an MDHHS emergency order restricting contact activity and competition due to COVID-19.
Non-contact Winter sports – girls and boys bowling, girls gymnastics, girls and boys alpine skiing and girls and boys swimming & diving – are able to participate in those activities fully.
The MDHHS limitations on Winter contact sports were set to expire at the end of January, but were extended last week by MDHHS through Feb. 21.
“Each week, we see hundreds of examples of children and families competing in non-school competition, both in-state and out-of-state,” Uyl said. “This not only is in violation of current MDHHS orders, but sending all of these families into different states will only become an impediment to getting students back in school fulltime.
“But we can contribute to students returning to in-person learning by allowing MHSAA member schools to begin full activities, participating locally and against more local competition, and under the guidance of trained, professional educators.”
This past weekend the MHSAA concluded its remaining Fall tournaments with 11-Player Football Finals. Earlier this month, Girls Volleyball, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving and 8-Player Football Finals were competed to conclude those seasons. All four were allowed to complete their seasons because those teams took part in the MDHHS rapid testing pilot program.
Results of that program were overwhelmingly positive. A total of 5,376 individuals (athletes, coaches, team personnel, cheerleaders, etc.) were tested, and 57 – or 1 percent – tested positive at some point in the pilot. Nearly 30,000 rapid antigen tests were administered – and 99.8 percent were negative. (All four data points were through Jan. 19 and provided to the MHSAA by the MDHHS.)
As of Monday (Jan. 25), Winter contact sports had begun in 38 states, including border states Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Elections were completed recently to fill positions on the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s legislative body, its Representative Council, with six members receiving re-election, another rejoining the Council after previously serving and two being selected for the first time – one of those two as part of a special election.
Five of the six re-elected members ran unopposed. Midland athletic director Eric Albright was re-elected to continue representing Class A and B schools in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula, Portage Northern athletic director Chris Riker was re-elected to continue representing Class A and B schools in the southwestern section of the Lower Peninsula, and Brighton athletic director John Thompson was re-elected to continue representing Class A and B schools in the southeastern section of the Lower Peninsula.
Calumet faculty member and past athletic director Sean Jacques was re-elected to continue representing the Class C and D schools in the Upper Peninsula. Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, was re-elected to continue representing private and parochial schools. Grand Haven superintendent Scott C. Grimes was re-elected for a statewide at-large position from an original pool of four candidates.
Bangor athletic director Fredrick J. Smith will be rejoining the Council after previously serving from 2005-17 while athletic director at Comstock, Buchanan and Benton Harbor. He was elected to represent junior high and middle schools. Harbor Springs athletic director Anna Rigby will join the Council for the first time and was elected to represent Class C and D schools in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula. All eight were elected to serve two-year terms.
Camden-Frontier superintendent Chris Adams also will be joining the Council for the first time. He was selected as part of a special election to serve a one-year term representing Class C and D schools in the southeastern section of the Lower Peninsula. He will finish the term of former Ottawa Lake Whiteford athletic director and coach Jason Mensing, who now serves at Class A Westland John Glenn.
The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members 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 Council meets three times annually, and these elections take effect with the Fall 2022 meeting. Five members of the Council convene monthly during the school year to form the MHSAA’s Executive Committee, which reviews appeals of Handbook regulations by member schools.
Additional elections took place to select representatives to the Upper Peninsula Athletic Committee. Lake Linden-Hubbell athletic director and varsity girls basketball coach Jack Kumpula was elected to represent Class D schools, and West Iron County principal, athletic director and varsity football coach Mike Berutti was elected to represent athletic coaches. Powers North Central principal David Florenski was selected in a special election to serve a one-year term representing Class D schools.
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.