Legacy Speaks for Allen's Service

January 31, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Randy Allen was a face seen and a voice heard by thousands during the first two decades of his career in athletics, when he worked as a TV sports anchor and radio play-by-play personality.

But it’s fair to assume his son Dean has watched his dad at work more than anyone over the latter’s most recent 20-plus years serving high school athletic associations, including the last 13 as an assistant director at the MHSAA.

Dean Allen, now an assistant athletic director at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, remembers many trophy presentations over the years and how his dad would step back and make sure the tournament manager or athletic director was the one handing the hardware to those who deserved the spotlight.

Randy Allen embraced a behind-the-scenes role after joining the high school association side in 1992. And as he retired from the MHSAA on Friday, it was no doubt the athletic directors, officials and coaches who worked with him behind the scenes over the last 13 years who most appreciated his many contributions to making his seasons run smoothly.

“The biggest smile you’d see on him was when the tournament was over and the kids were out there tackling each other, the excitement, the smiles on their faces when they get their medals and raise the trophy,” Dean Allen said. “For him, that’s most worth it. To see it run well, and when it’s over, seeing the kids and the community and parents and coaches, celebrating the successes they’ve had. Seeing the smiles on kids’ faces is really what it’s all about.”

Randy Allen’s name surely isn’t as recognizable to sports fans in Michigan as it was during the 1970s and 80s in Wisconsin.

That was by design.

Allen set that tone almost immediately at his first meeting as a member of the MHSAA staff – during the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association annual summer retreat.

“I remember telling them how glad I was to be here, and how much I looked forward to serving the membership. I just felt that was our main focus here, was to serve schools,” Allen said. “I’ve kept that thought in mind day in and day out.”

Allen knew only a handful of Michiganders when he joined the MHSAA staff. But he knew the job – and was ready for the challenges of fulfilling an aspiration while gaining knowledge of his new home on the fly.

His roots in high school athletics already dug deep.

Allen officiated baseball and softball for 25 years and also some of both at the college level. He also worked as a TV sports anchor at multiple stations near Madison, Wis., for 15 years while radio broadcasting high school football, basketball, baseball and hockey games on three networks and University of Wisconsin hockey games during the era of legendary coach Bob Johnson.

Allen went on to work in various other media roles as a producer, director and station manager, and broadcasted and produced Wisconsin high school tournament games – which led in part to his joining the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association staff as communications director in 1992. 

In 2000, Allen became a seven-state regional director for iHigh.com. But an opportunity at the MHSAA two years later allowed him to pursue a goal going back to his days at the WIAA.

“I had always hoped I would get a chance to manage a sport in a state association,” Allen said. “When I came here, I went to heaven. I got to manage sports, and they were sports I knew like the back of my hand.”

Allen joined the MHSAA staff as assistant director in charge of baseball, softball, hockey and team wrestling. But that was just a start; Allen later traded in baseball and team wrestling for golf and played a leading role in the addition of bowling, which he has directed since its inception.

Allen also coordinated the junior high/middle school and MHSAA awards committees and served as staff liaison to the MIAAA, among other duties.

“Randy has been a perfect fit for his major sport responsibilities here,” MHSAA executive director Jack Roberts said. “He is a very hard worker, and he is very well liked by the coaches, officials and administrators he has served so well.”

It was during a trip to visit potential Hockey Finals sites roughly a decade ago that Roberts first brought up to Allen the possibility of bowling becoming the next MHSAA tournament addition – and the question of who on staff could run it. Roberts asked if Allen had experience in the sport.

Allen had an uncle in the bowling business and had been rolling since he was 4. “Bowling has been in my DNA since I was (a child),” Allen said. “I speak their language.”

He directed the MHSAA’s first Bowling Finals in 2004. Participation in the sport has continued to grow to 6,700 students in 2012-13.

Bowling also played a big part in making Allen something of an ambassador for the MHSAA, in that he reached out to an entire group of sports people who had not been in MHSAA conversations before. 

He played a similar key role in serving others who also often work under the radar, providing training to the athletic department secretaries and middle school athletic directors during MIAAA conferences. And his experience in multiple states allowed him to provide a valuable and varied perspective.

“He always was willing to talk to someone – answer an MHSAA rules or regulation question, provide a quick fix to a school/league issue, give an anecdote to make a bad day better with a smile,” said Bear Lake athletic director Karen Leinaar, who also serves on the MHSAA Representative Council and is assistant to the executive director of the MIAAA. “And he always was a welcoming voice on the phone. No question, no person was ever a bother. He always took time and provided some type of direction.” 

He’ll continue to do so.

Allen will begin Monday as commissioner of the Capital Area Activities Conference, the 27-school league that includes most of the biggest in the Lansing and Jackson areas. 

“My entire life has been school sports. Not college sports, not professional sports. School sports,” Allen said. “It was my passion, what I was comfortable with as an official; I coached a little bit, I played a little bit (and) as a broadcaster.”

PHOTO: Retired MHSAA assistant director Randy Allen (left), with official Dan Dicristofaro, managed his final Hockey Finals in 2013.

Finalists Announced for 2022-23 MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

January 18, 2023

The 120 finalists for the Michigan High School Athletic Association's Scholar-Athlete Awards for the 2022-23 school year, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance, have been announced.

The program, in its 34th year, has recognized student-athletes since the 1989-90 school year and again this winter will honor 32 individuals from MHSAA member schools who participate in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament.

Farm Bureau Insurance underwrites the Scholar-Athlete Awards and will present a $2,000 scholarship to each recipient. Since the beginning of the program, 896 scholarships have been awarded.

Scholarships will be presented proportionately by school classification, with 12 scholarships to be awarded to Class A student-athletes, six female and six male; eight scholarships will be awarded to Class B student-athletes, four female and four male; six scholarships will be awarded to Class C student-athletes, three female and three male; and four scholarships will be awarded to Class D student-athletes, two female and two male. In addition, two scholarships will be awarded at-large to minority recipients, regardless of school size.

Every MHSAA member high school could submit as many applications as there are scholarships available in its classification and could have more than one finalist. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood has four finalists and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix and Midland Dow have three finalists this year. Twelve schools have two finalists: Ada Forest Hills Eastern, Cass City, Fenton, Hillsdale Academy, Holland, Holland Christian, Milford, Negaunee, Northville, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, South Lyon East, and Tecumseh.

Multiple-sport participation remains the norm among applicants. The average sport participation rate of the finalists is 2.88. There are 74 three-plus sport participants in the finalists field, and all but two of the 28 sports in which the MHSAA sponsors postseason tournaments are represented.

Of 421 schools which submitted applicants, 25 submitted the maximum allowed. This year, 1,440 applications were received. All applicants will be presented with certificates commemorating their achievement. Additional Scholar-Athlete information, including a complete list of scholarship nominees, can be found on the Scholar-Athlete page. 

The applications were judged by a 65-member committee of school coaches, counselors, faculty members, administrators and board members from MHSAA member schools. Selection of the 32 scholarship recipients will take place in early February. Class C and D scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 7, Class B scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 14 and Class A scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 21. All announcements will be made on the MHSAA Website.

To be eligible for the award, students must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 (on a 4.0 scale) and previously have won a varsity letter in at least one sport in which the MHSAA sponsors a postseason tournament. Students also were asked to respond to a series of short essay questions, submit two letters of recommendation and a 500-word essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.

Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan was founded in 1949 by Michigan farmers who wanted an insurance company that worked as hard as they did. Those values still guide the company today and are a big reason why it is known as Michigan’s Insurance Company, dedicated to protecting the farms, families, and businesses of this great state. Farm Bureau Insurance agents across Michigan provide a full range of insurance services—life, home, auto, farm, business, retirement, Lake Estate®, and more—protecting nearly 500,000 Michigan policyholders.

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. 

2022-23 Scholar-Athlete Award Finalists

Daria Igonin, Belleville
Ella Blank, Birmingham Groves
Ella Thomas, Brownstown Woodhaven
Keira Tolmie, Clarkston
Nora Chamas, Dearborn
Miryam El-Saghir, Dearborn Edsel Ford
Abigail Frushour, DeWitt
Rachel Williamson, East Grand Rapids
Naomi Sowa, East Lansing
Adrienne Staib, Fenton
Abigail Cumings, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
Ella Eitniear, Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
Sophia Borowski, Grosse Pointe North
Eva Whiteman, Holland
Ana Dunfee, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Wendy Miedema, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Colleen Blackwood, Linden
Kathleen Doneth, Mason
Caroline Colt, Milford
Leah Merriam, Milford
Sophia Hekkema, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
Jane Barnett, Royal Oak
Kate Mazur, South Lyon East
Amyla Eberhart, South Lyon East

Henry Jackson, Bloomfield Hills
Connor Anderson, Cadillac
Isaac David Clark, Caledonia
Braylen Himmelein, Davison
Nathan Katic, Fenton
Isaac Postema, Grand Haven
Ryan Lee, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
Brayden Ryan LaCroix, Grandville
Brendan Downey, Grosse Pointe South
James R. Baer, Holland
Treyton William Carr, Hudsonville
James Rocco, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
James Patterson Jr., Lake Orion
Shubhan Nagarkar, Midland Dow
Danny Safadi, Midland Dow
Jack Bakus, Midland Dow
Gavyn Stout, Muskegon Mona Shores
Abhinav Attaluri, Northville
David Whitaker, Northville
Samuel Gibson, Plainwell
Harsimmer Sohi, Portage Central
Shane Pitcher, Saline
Ian Robertson, Traverse City West
Trevor Wallar, Zeeland West

Devin Johnston, Almont
Rylie Haist, Big Rapids
Jordan Richie, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Anna Smith, Clawson
Carney Salo, Escanaba
Ella Wagner, Essexville Garber
Lauren Harrold, Flint Powers Catholic
Tiffany Keller, Frankenmuth
Ainsley VandenBrink, Holland Christian
Claire Filpus, Houghton
Elaina Bortolini, Kingsford
Matelyn Midkiff, Midland Bullock Creek
Rachel Niskanen, Negaunee
Molly McNitt, Paw Paw
Chesney Wilke, Tecumseh
Allison Tate, Whitehall

Sreejay Ramakrishnan, Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Jacob Pallo, Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Aiden Eric Smith, Adrian
Evan Jose Evans, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
John Kersh, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Nathan Hooker, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Jacob Fenbert, Dundee
Michael App, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
James Oosterhouse, Holland Christian
Matthew Bowman, Milan
Philip Nelson, Negaunee
Grant H. Harkness, Newaygo
Nicholas Liparoto, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
Isaiah Pelc, Portland
Aldo Barba, Tecumseh
Camden Johnecheck, Williamston

Tailor Onstott, Beal City
Saylar Cuthrell, Cass City
Kylie McGrath, Cass City
Claire Scholten, Charlevoix
Ruby Sierer, Clinton
Quinn Watts, Fowler
Danni Swihart, Hanover-Horton
Aziza Burgoon, Iron Mountain
Abigail Meyer, Marlette
Alaina Andrews, Ottawa Lake Whiteford
Laina Harger, St. Charles
Samantha Dietz, Watervliet

Logan Pflug, Cassopolis
Seth Vanderwest, Kent City
Ethan Green, Kingston
Andrew Mleczko, Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Grant Mason, Manistique
Blake O'Connor, Maple City Glen Lake
Brock Murphy, Menominee
Riley DeSarbo, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central
Ty Kohlmann, New Lothrop
Noah Etnyre, Plymouth Christian Academy
Brennan Cannaday, Royal Oak Shrine Catholic
Dirk Rierson, Unionville-Sebewaing

Kylie Quist, Athens
Kasandra Lynn Waldi, Chesterfield Austin Catholic
Megan Roberts, Hillsdale Academy
Emma Case, Kinde North Huron
Monique Brisson, Munising
Makennah Uotila, Ontonagon
Gabriella Wenzel, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary
Macey Springer, Three Oaks River Valley

Ryan McDonell, Bay City All Saints
Luke Walker, Clarkston Everest Collegiate
Amos Norland, Dollar Bay
Brody Appelgren, Hillman
Caleb Diener, Hillsdale Academy
Matthew Zammit, Marine City Cardinal Mooney
James Blackburn, Martin
Caleb Munson, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary

PHOTO A group including 27 of last season's 32 MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award winners take a photo together during the banquet at Breslin Center.