Participation Data Published for Abbreviated 2019-20 School Year

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 26, 2021

Data collected from Michigan High School Athletic Association schools for the annual national participation study has been published, noting that comparisons of overall participation and Spring sports data to past years must include the context that Spring sports teams had not begun competition before sports were halted March 16, 2020, and eventually canceled, and that reporting for those sports may be incomplete.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) did not publish results of its national survey for the 2019-20 school year. However, the data collected for MHSAA sports has been posted to the MHSAA Website; results from the 2000-01 school year to present may be viewed at by clicking on Schools > Administrators > Sports Participation Listing.

A total of 274,126 participants competed or had begun practices in MHSAA-sponsored sports during the 2019-20 school year. The overall MHSAA participation totals count students once for each sport in which they participate, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.

Boys participation fell 2.7 percent to 157,323, and girls participation also decreased, by three percent to 116,803. However, both measures include totals received for Spring sports, which saw reduced participation reported in eight of nine sports offered and the majority by significant percentages indicating the effect of the COVID-19 stoppage.

However, data collected for the Fall and Winter revealed mostly consistent comparisons with eight sports showing increases in participation from 2018-19 and 11 showing decreases (not counting girls tennis, which is played in Fall in the Upper Peninsula but by the great majority of the state’s teams in the Lower Peninsula during Spring). Girls and boys bowling both set participation records with the girls total of 3,134 athletes up 1.3 percent over the previous season and the boys total of 4,495 up 3.8 percent over 2018-19.

Girls alpine skiing and wrestling enjoyed the second-largest percentage increases in participation in 2019-20 of three percent each, girls skiing to 786 athletes (the sport’s most since 2004-05) and wrestling to 9,777 participants. Volleyball bounced back from a dip in 2018-19 with an increase of nearly a percent to 19,248 participants, and boys swimming & diving similarly bounced back with a 1.1-percent increase to 5,059 participants. Girls golf (0.6 percent, 3,610 total participants) and boys tennis (1.3 percent, 6,339 athletes) also saw increases despite Upper Peninsula seasons in those sports not being played. Girls lacrosse, with 3,224 participants, was up 1.4 percent and set a record despite the sport being halted prior to the start of competition.

Of the 11 Fall and Winter sports that saw decreases in participation from 2018-19, eight were by 1.6 percent or less. Football, with 34,339 participants during the 2019 season, remained the most-played sport despite a 3-percent decrease from the previous year. Boys track & field (21,650) and boys basketball (21,016) had the next-highest totals of participants reported. Volleyball (19,248) remained the most popular girls sport by participation, followed by girls track & field (16,274) and girls basketball (15,133).

The following chart shows participation figures for the 2019-20 school year from MHSAA member schools for sports in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament:





Schools (A)


Schools (A)

Participants (B)
















Competitive Cheer





Cross Country





Football - 11 player




















Ice Hockey

























Swimming & Diving










Track & Field















(A) The first number is the number of schools reporting sponsorship on the Sports Participation Survey, including primary and secondary schools in cooperative programs as of May 15, 2020. The second number indicates the number of schools that had girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys.

(B) The second number indicates the number of additional girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys and entered in boys competition.

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.

Crowley, Lintner & Smelis Named 2022 Bush Award Recipients

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

August 11, 2022

Lowell’s Deanne Crowley, Owosso’s Dallas Lintner and Fenton’s Mitch Smelis all have provided more than two decades of service to Michigan educational athletics, Crowley as a highly-regarded coach and administrator, Lintner also as an administrator and educational leader and Smelis as an athletic trainer and prominent voice in the sports medicine community especially in its service to school sports.

To recognize their significant and continued contributions to educational athletics, Crowley, Lintner and Smelis have been named recipients of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Allen W. Bush Award for 2022.

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 without a lot of attention. This is the 31st year of the award, with selections made by the MHSAA's Representative Council.

Crowley began her coaching career at Lake Odessa Lakewood in 1987 with subvarsity basketball, and she took over Lowell’s girls varsity program in 2000 after previously beginning her teaching career there in 1998. She remained the Red Arrows’ coach through 2006, that season leading her team to the Class A Semifinals – and she also was named Class A Coach of Year in 2004 by The Associated Press. Crowley became an assistant principal at Lowell in 2010 and the high school’s athletic director in 2013.

Deanne CrowleyShe earned her certified athletic administrator designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) in 2018 and was named Region 4 Athletic Director of the Year this past school year by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Previously, she was named Athletic Director of the Year by the Michigan Wrestling Association for the 2018-19 school year and by the West Michigan Officials Association in 2021. Crowley also is a significant contributor to Lowell’s nationally-recognized Pink Arrow Pride program that raises funds annually for cancer awareness, education and support within the Lowell community; she organizes and coordinates the education program, which among other goals provides scholarships for Lowell graduates pursuing careers in medicine. She also was a co-founder in 2000 of the Lady Arrows Varsity Club, which provides leadership training for female student-athletes who have earned a varsity letter.

Crowley graduated from Lakewood High School in 1983 and earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Western Michigan University in 1997 and a master’s in educational administration from Michigan State University in 2002.

“I have known Dee for over 20 years, and she has always been incredibly dedicated to finding opportunities for all students, especially female student-athletes,” Uyl said. “Her years as a coach and administrator have shown a solid record of finding ways for kids to compete.”

Lintner is returning to Owosso High School as principal this fall after finishing the second half of 2021-22 as interim athletic director at Fenton High School. He first joined the staff at Owosso as a teacher in 2001-02, went to Linden as athletic director for two years beginning with fall of 2008, then returned to Owosso as athletic director and assistant principal from 2010 through the 2020-21 school year. He served as principal at Owosso Lincoln High School last school year until leaving for Fenton.

Dallas LintnerEducation has been a focus of Lintner’s work, and he received a doctorate in educational leadership from University of Michigan-Flint in 2017. He has a certified master athletic administrator designation and has served as a leadership training instructor for the NIAAA since 2015. He also has served as a facilitator for the Love and Logic parenting program.

Lintner has been an active participant with the MIAAA as well, serving as its constitution committee chairperson since 2009. He was a member of the executive board from 2015-20, including serving as president during the 2018-19 school year. As athletic director, he was a frequent host of MHSAA postseason events and a contributor to various committees, and he previously was an MHSAA registered official for track & field and coach in multiple sports. Prior to earning his doctorate, Lintner graduated from Vassar High School in 1995, then earned a bachelor's degree in education from Saginaw Valley State University in 2000 and a master’s in athletic administration from Central Michigan University in 2005.

“Dallas has provided years of solid leadership in Owosso,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “This consistent approach has led to numerous improvements, and during his tenure as athletic director his school won its first state championship, with the softball program (in 2021).”

Smelis has served as an athletic trainer for 25 years with Fenton Area Public Schools, for the last decade through NovaCare Rehabilitation. He was named High School Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society (MATS) in 2017 and serves as co-chairperson of its Secondary School Committee.

Mitch SmelisAlso a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and Great Lakes Athletic Trainers Association (GLATA), Smelis has become a key connection between the training community and MHSAA. He has contributed as a MATS liaison on multiple MHSAA sport committees, and serves on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and as an instructor for the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program (CAP). He also has presented at the MIAAA’s annual and summer conferences on a variety of physical health and safety and mental health topics.

Smelis graduated from Imlay City High School in 1991 and earned a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine from Central Michigan University in 1997. He is a certified American Heart Association instructor for CPR, first aid and basic life support and has served as lead instructor in CPR and first aid for Fenton’s coaches and staff.

“Mitch has been incredibly dedicated to keeping kids safe while playing all sports,” Uyl said. “He also has been responsible for further strengthening the good relationship between the MHSAA and Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society, and he continues to provide valuable insight as part of our coaches education efforts.”