MHSAA Announces 2015-16 Concussion Data

September 12, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has completed an unprecedented yearlong collection of head injury reports from its member schools, mandated in 2015-16 for the first time as part of an effort to identify and reduce the incidence of those types of injuries in educational athletics.

The MHSAA requested that member schools report, by sport, possible concussions by their student-athletes during both practice and competition. Reporting for the 2016-17 school year is underway, and schools again are required to designate if potential concussions occurred during competition or practice and at which level – varsity, junior varsity or freshman.

The full report of all head injuries experienced during 2015-16 by student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools – including percentages by sport (per 1,000 participants), gender and team level, as well as data tracking when athletes returned to play – is available on the Health & Safety page of the MHSAA Website.

The MHSAA received data from more than 99 percent of its member high schools after the end of the fall, winter and spring seasons, and continued to track each injury report through its conclusion this summer. Member junior high and middle schools also were allowed, although not mandated, to report their potential head injuries; those findings are not part of the published report.

It is the hope that universities, health care systems and the National Federation of State High School Associations will take part in analyzing the data. The MHSAA will work, in particular, with Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports to explore these findings and their relation to possible changes and additions in coaches education.

“We know that school sports are safer than they’ve ever been, thanks to advances in equipment, increased and more complete coaches education and rules designed to bring higher levels of safety to both practices and competition,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. “However, this unprecedented effort will allow us for the first time to set a baseline by which we can determine year-to-year progress as we work to reduce the incidence of head injuries in school sports, while providing questions we will seek to answer with assistance from our research partners.”

Student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools encountered during 2015-16 a total of 4,452 head injuries – or 5.9 per member school. Total participation in MHSAA sports for 2015-16 was 284,227 – with students counted once for each sport he or she played – and only 1.6 percent of participants experienced a head injury. Boys experienced 3,003 – or 67 percent – of those injuries, although boys participation in sports, especially contact sports, also was higher than girls.

More than half of head injuries – 54 percent – were experienced by varsity athletes. A total of 2,973 – or 67 percent – came in competition as opposed to practice. More than half took place during either the middle of practice or middle of competition as opposed to the start or end, and nearly 56 percent of injuries were a result of person-to-person contact. The largest percentage of athletes – 28 percent – returned to activity after 6 to 10 days, while 20 percent of those who suffered head injuries returned after 11-15 days of rest.

Not surprisingly, contact sports revealed the most head injuries. Ranking first was 11-player football with 49 head injuries per 1,000 participants, followed by ice hockey with 38 and 8-player football with 34. However, girls soccer was just behind with 30 injuries per 1,000 participants, and girls basketball ranked fifth with 29 injuries per 1,000.

A startling disparity in the number of reported head injuries suffered by girls and boys playing the same sports was the most significant finding revealed by the concussion reporting. Soccer, basketball and baseball/softball are played under identical or nearly identical rules, and in those sports females reported significantly more concussions than males playing the same or similar sport.

Female soccer players reported 30 concussions per 1,000 participants. Male soccer players, meanwhile, reported only 18 concussions per 1,000 participants. Female basketball players reported 29 concussions per 1,000 participants; male players reported 11. Softball players reported 11 concussions per 1,000 participants, and baseball players reported four per 1,000.

“Experts tell us that it’s not surprising that girls report more head injuries than boys. But we found it stunning how many more head injuries were reported for girls than boys,” Roberts said. “As we delve deeper into the data, we hope to identify what physiological, social and psychological factors may contribute to this disparity – and how we can better prepare school personnel and especially coaches to watch for over- or under-reporting.”

Schools report possible concussions online via the MHSAA Website. Reports are then examined by members of the MHSAA staff, who follow up with school administrators as those student-athletes continue to receive care and eventually return to play. Student privacy is protected. 

The reporting of possible concussions is part of a three-pronged advance by the MHSAA in concussion care begun during the 2015-16 school year which is producing data related to the frequency and severity of head injuries. The MHSAA in fall 2015 launched the largest-ever state high school association sideline concussion testing pilot program, with 62 schools taking part by using one of two screening tests designed to detect concussions. One of the objectives of the pilot was to increase awareness of concussions and improve sideline detection, and results indicated that the average number of possible concussions reported by pilot schools exceeded the average reported by schools outside the pilot group. For the 2016-17 school year, 34 schools are taking part in one of the two pilot programs as the project was concentrated to include schools which were diverse in size and location and able to best conduct the pilots to completion. The pilots will focus on sports for which most concussions occur, according to the mandated reporting by all schools during the 2015-16 school year.

The MHSAA also is the first state association to provide all participants at every member high school and junior high/middle school with insurance intended to pay accident medical expense benefits – covering deductibles and co-pays left unpaid by other policies – resulting from head injuries sustained during school practices or competitions and at no cost to either schools or families. During 2015-16, a total of 159 claims were made – with more than half coming in football (55) or girls basketball (29).

Previously, the MHSAA also was among the first state associations to adopt a return-to-play protocol that keeps an athlete out of activity until at least the next day after a suspected concussion, and allows that athlete to return to play only after he or she has been cleared unconditionally for activity by a doctor (M.D. or D.O.), physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 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. 

Detroit PSL’s McEvans, Comstock’s Ansel & KLAA’s Masi Named 2024 Bush Award Recipients

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

July 23, 2024

Detroit Public School League assistant director Anika McEvans, Comstock Public Schools athletic director Justin Ansel and Kensington Lakes Activities Association commissioner Bryan Masi all have served educational athletics for multiple decades in high-profile positions – but as is common in those roles, with much of their difference-making work taking place behind the scenes.

To recognize their efforts and celebrate those vast contributions to school sports, they have been named the 2024 recipients of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Allen W. Bush Award.

Al Bush served as executive director of the MHSAA for 10 years. The award honors individuals for past and continuing service to school athletics as a coach, administrator, official, trainer, doctor or member of the media. The award was developed to bring recognition to people who are giving and serving locally, regionally or statewide without a lot of attention. This is the 33rd year of the award.

McEvans finished her fifth school year this spring serving in the Office of Athletics for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, which administers programs for the Detroit PSL. She is responsible for planning and implementation of the PSL’s sports offerings for 72 elementary and middle schools in addition to her several responsibilities supporting the league’s 20 high schools.

Anika McEvans headshotThe 1994 Detroit Renaissance graduate, and three-sport athlete there, came to the PSL from Southfield Public Schools, where she served as athletic director from 2012-15 for the former Southfield High School and then as district athletic director through 2017-18. As district director, she supervised more than 100 coaches, staff and volunteers and assisted in the merger of Southfield High and Southfield-Lathrup into Southfield Arts & Technology High School for the start of the 2016-17 school year. She previously served as well in several roles at Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences from 2006-12, and also as director of business operations and then general manager for the Detroit Demolition/Detroit Danger women’s professional football franchise from 2002-06 and as assistant general manager for the Motor City Mechanics minor league hockey team from 2004-06.

McEvans has provided valuable input on a variety of MHSAA committees over the last decade, including athletic equity, junior high/middle school, scholar-athlete and as part of multiple officials and site selection committees and as a key voice on the MHSAA Multi-Sport Task Force during the last half of the last decade. The mother of three – with two current college athletes and a college freshman-to-be – also served as head girls basketball coach at Academy of Arts & Sciences, assistant girls basketball coach at Southfield and assistant boys basketball coach and assistant softball coach at Renaissance. She has a bachelor’s degree in sports management & communication from University of Michigan and a master’s in business administration from University of Detroit Mercy.

“Anika McEvans has provided a valuable voice in a variety of subjects of statewide importance, but especially on topics impacting students as they transition from middle school to high school – relying not only on her experiences as an administrator, but also as a parent helping her children navigate their paths in athletics,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Her work on the Junior High/Middle School Committee and Multi-Sport Task Force directly led to the creation of more opportunities for our younger athletes, but with a continuing focus on providing them with a well-rounded athletic experience.”

Ansel has served the last 17 years as athletic director for Comstock Public Schools, and during his time in the district also has coached varsity girls basketball and boys soccer and middle school girls and boys basketball, soccer and cross country. Both of his Colts varsity programs won multiple league championships under his guidance. Ansel came to Comstock after a decade at Onaway, where he taught and coached all 10 years and also served as athletic director over the final five.

Justin Ansel headshotHis vast experiences on the sidelines and in the athletic office have made Ansel a valuable contributor on several MHSAA committees as well, including most recently the Junior High/Middle School Committee, and he’s also served as Southwest 10 Conference president and in multiple leadership roles with the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Locally, Ansel has raised from than $60,000 for various projects at Comstock, several highlighting the school’s athletic history.

A Monroe High graduate, Ansel earned a bachelor’s degree from Spring Arbor University in 1997, master’s degrees in education from Marygrove College in 2003 and educational leadership from Grand Valley State University in 2005, and he completed GVSU’s educational specialist in leadership program in 2018. He also has earned his certified master athletic administrator designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and completed the master elite level of the MHSAA Coaches Advancement Program (CAP).  Ansel was nominated by the MIAAA for the NIAAA’s Jim Teff Professional Development Achievement Award in 2019, and he was named the MIAAA’s Region 4 Athletic Director of the Year in 2023.

“Justin Ansel is known in his community, league and by those who have served with him across the state for his hands-on approach to providing enriching experiences for the communities he serves,” Uyl said. “His style as an administrator reflects what he’s provided as a coach – he’s known as an insightful team builder always working to move his programs forward.”

Masi just completed his fourth year as commissioner of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association, which is made up of 16 of the largest suburban schools in Metro Detroit, with his responsibilities including serving as liaison for the league locally and at the state level. He also previously served as the KLAA’s football commissioner from the league’s start in 2008.

Bryan Masi headshotHe previously served as athletic director at Northville for 17 years, where he created the Northville Athletic Community Service Initiative that has raised thousands of dollars and provided goods and services for needy individuals and community service groups. He also started Northville’s unified sports program and hosted one of the MHSAA’s first junior high/middle school cross country Regional meets during the pilot stage of that program. Northville also hosted several MHSAA postseason events and sessions of the Coaches Advancement Program under his leadership.

A teacher previously and longtime coach as well, Masi was named Michigan Secondary Teacher of the Year in 1997 by the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAPHERD) and selected to coach in the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association East/West All-Star Game in 1998. He was named MIAAA Region 11 Athletic Director of the Year in 2013 and MIAAA Middle School Athletic Director of the Year in 2019, and inducted into the Northville Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021. Masi also has served on several MHSAA committees including for football, gymnastics and junior high/middle school sports.

Masi graduated from Dearborn Edsel Ford, then earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University, his master’s from Wayne State University and his certified athletic administrator (CAA) designation.

“Bryan Masi has brought the leadership, perspective and ingenuity he employed to build Northville’s success to the KLAA, and those qualities continue to show as he leads one of the state’s most high-profile leagues,” Uyl said. “Bryan is admired and respected by his counterparts, locally and across the state, not only for how he leads but the values he promotes in doing so.”