Rep Council Wrap-Up: Spring 2017

May 18, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The adoption of a change in how basketball and volleyball teams will be classified for Michigan High School Athletic Association tournaments was among notable actions taken by the Representative Council during its annual Spring Meeting, May 7-8, in Glen Arbor, in addition to MHSAA Finals site changes announced in a previous release May 9

The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,400 member schools is generally the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 29 committee proposals and dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.

The tournaments in girls and boys basketball, and volleyball – the last to be organized based on traditional Class (A-B-C-D) enrollment breaks – instead will be conducted using equal divisions (1-2-3-4) beginning with the 2018-19 school year. The Council approved this change in response to a proposal by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan; Michigan’s interscholastic volleyball community also has expressed openness to equal divisions in the past. All other MHSAA tournaments, except for football, are conducted using equal divisions based on enrollment and determined prior to the school year. Football is the only sport requiring teams to qualify for postseason play, and its equal divisions are not determined until after the regular season ends.

After previously approving the addition of a second division to the 8-Player Football Playoffs for 2017-18 at its Winter Meeting, the Council approved the selection of the field after the ninth week of the regular season and based on playoff point average. The 32 teams with highest playoff point averages will be listed by enrollment, with the largest 16 placed in Division 1 and the smallest 16 in Division 2 of the 8-Player tournament.

Also concerning tournament setup, the Council chose to not adopt a Basketball Committee proposal that would have seeded both the girls and boys tournaments at the District and Regional levels. Instead, the Council instructed staff to examine seeding options for the District level only, to be presented at Council meetings during the 2017-18 school year.

Continuing a focus on athletes’ health and safety, and in the case of football reducing the number of collisions experienced by players, the Council approved a Football Committee recommendation that, after the first game of the regular season, limits teams to no more than 90 total minutes of collision practice in any week. Similar to the previous rule limiting teams to two days of collision contact per week after the first game, blocking and tackling techniques are allowed by the new rule – but full-speed contact is limited to players versus pads, shields, sleds or dummies. Players may continue to wear helmets and other protective pads for non-collision practice sessions.

Here is a summary of other actions taken by the Representative Council at the Spring Meeting, which will take effect during the 2017-18 school year unless noted: 

Sport Matters

• In competitive cheer, the Council approved a committee recommendation to allow forward/backward suspended rolls, in a double-braced pyramid, to be transitioned directly to a stunt. Those rolls are allowed to a cradle, sponge or stunt, but not the cheering surface.

• In football, the Council approved two recommendations, one by committee and one by staff, regarding the later rounds of the playoffs. For Semifinals and Finals, the home team and visitor will be determined by playoff point average instead of the previous Regional advancement. In addition, the Council also voted to allow 11-player Semifinals to be played either Friday night or Saturday, as opposed to only on Saturday.

• In golf, the Council approved a committee recommendation requiring a Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) rules official be present at each Lower Peninsula girls and boys Regional tournament to assist with rules issues and challenges.

• For hockey, the Council approved a recommendation that allows a 23rd active player to be dressed in uniform if that player is a goaltender. Previously, only 22 active players could dress and sit on the bench.

• Also for hockey, the Council approved a committee recommendation to add an MHSAA adaptation to a National Federation rule mandating helmets be worn by players and officials at all times on the ice, except while standing for the national anthem. The MHSAA adaptation adds postgame award ceremonies as another exception allowing helmets to be removed.

• In lacrosse, both boys and girls, the Council approved a recommendation from both sports’ committees to allow for multi-team tournaments on days not followed by school days (generally Fridays); currently they are allowed only on non-school days.

• In soccer, a committee recommendation was adopted eliminating overtime periods and shootouts during the regular season. Leagues and conferences will be allowed an overtime option for their end-of-season bracketed tournaments, but overtime in those cases must not exceed two 10-minute periods plus a shootout. Multi-team regular-season tournaments also may receive waivers to employ a shootout if it is used to determine the winner of a game.

• A swimming & diving committee recommendation was approved that reduces the number of regular-season wins required by a diver from five to four for that diver to qualify for the Diving Qualification Meet. A diver also may qualify for the Diving Qualification Meet if he or she places ahead of all divers from opposing schools in varsity competition in at least four meets, even if he or she does not finish ahead of his or her teammates.

• In tennis, the Council approved to adjust the limited team membership rule as it applies to tennis to go into effect on the first allowable date of competition for any student, as opposed to the current first day of allowable practice.

• In girls volleyball, a committee recommendation was approved allowing graduating 12th-grade athletes with no remaining interscholastic eligibility in any sport to wear school uniforms in one all-star game sponsored and conducted during the summer by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, effective immediately.

• The Council approved two Wrestling Committee recommendations. The first changes the Team Regional hosting format so that a host will be selected from the four qualifying teams based on a yearly rotation among those Districts.

• The Council also approved a recommendation to revise the Weigh-In Form/Process to include a section for inspection, where all participating wrestlers would be subject to inspection by officials.

Junior High/Middle Schools

• The Council approved a Junior High/Middle School Committee recommendation urging each MHSAA sport committee to consider opportunities to add more games and dates to middle school schedules while not extending the length of the 13-week season for those sports. This likely would include expanding the number of multi-game events (all games played on the same day and on a day not followed by a day of school) from two to four events.

• For both girls and boys junior high/middle school lacrosse, the Council approved committee recommendations to increase the number of multi-team tournaments allowed. Both will be allowed four multi-team tournaments. One-day multi-team tournaments in both boys and girls lacrosse will be counted as one competition date. Also approved for boys junior high/middle school lacrosse were committee proposals upping the number of maximum game dates from 12 to 15 over the same 13-week season, and an increase in running time minutes during multi-team events from 150 to 160 minutes to allow for four games with 20-minute running-time halves.

The Council also reviewed reports on membership, with 750 senior high schools and 740 junior high/middle schools in 2016-17 plus 24 elementary schools with 6th-grader participation; eligibility advancement applications, which totaled five for the second straight school year; the use of Educational Transfer Forms, which fell 13 percent this year; 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 $11.1 million budget for the 2017-18 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 1,400 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. 

2023 Forsythe Award Celebrates Leinaar's 40 Years Dedicated to School Sports

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 8, 2023

Few people in Michigan have had a longer-lasting influence on the rules and policies of educational athletics than Frankfort’s Karen Leinaar, who has served in several roles locally, statewide and nationally over more than 40 years contributing to the school sports community.

Thank you, Bill Baker.

The longtime teacher, coach, principal and superintendent during a career that stretched across multiple schools – including Leinaar’s growing up, Delton Kellogg – made an impression on the standout multi-sport athlete before she graduated from high school in 1977. Baker’s philosophy and work led Leinaar to study education at Michigan State University and then brought her back as Delton’s athletic director to begin four decades of making the same impact on children in her hometown and eventually in hometowns all over Michigan and beyond.

Baker died in 2009, but not before continuing to mentor Leinaar through many good times and tough ones.

“The man had two daughters that I grew up with, his wife was a teacher, and he demonstrated to all of us – he never missed an event – that we were important to him. That even though we weren’t his kids, we were his kids and athletics was a way to help kids become better people – and for some kids it was the only thing that they had positive in their life,” Leinaar said. “And he made it known just to that individual kid how important their participation was and their involvement, and how that helped them become the person that they were.

“That to me was such an example of how to help people be good people, that I just took that role on.”

It’s a role in which she continues to serve. Leinaar began her career as an athletic administrator in 1982, and as the interim athletic director currently at Frankfort High School is serving her fifth district in that position. Since June 2019, she also has served as executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), the professional organization for school sports administrators in the state with a membership of nearly 700.

Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998. To recognize that longtime and continuing impact, Leinaar has been named the 2023 honoree for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Charles E. Forsythe Award.

The annual award is in its 46th year and named after former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe, the Association's first full-time and longest-serving chief executive. Forsythe Award recipients are selected each year by the MHSAA Representative Council, based on an individual's outstanding contributions to the interscholastic athletics community.

Leinaar also served 22 years on the MHSAA’s Representative Council and a four-year term from 2009-13 on the Board of Directors for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and just last week was named to the 2023 class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Hall of Fame.

“It is impossible even to estimate the number of students, coaches, administrators and others who have been affected by the work Karen Leinaar has done to make school sports the best they can be – not only in her communities, but across Michigan and throughout the country,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “There are few who have equaled her dedication and her support and promotion of the ideals of school-based sports. She has always placed an emphasis on being in the room, on the field or at the arena, actively participating in her leadership roles, and our programs are better for it.”

Leinaar first served as athletic director at Delton Kellogg for nearly 17 years, from March 1982 through October 1998. She spent three years at Gaylord, then 8½ at Benzie Central before taking over at Bear Lake in November 2010 and spending the next decade organizing athletic programs for students in grades 5-12 before retiring in January 2021. She came out of retirement to return to the athletic director’s chair this past fall as interim AD at Frankfort. She has completed nearly four years as MIAAA executive director, moving into that position after previously serving nine years as an assistant to the executive.

Leinaar began her service on the Representative Council in Fall 1999 and completed her last term as a statewide at-large representative at the Fall 2021 meeting.

She has been honored several times for her contributions. She received the MHSAA’s Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998, a Citation from the NFHS in 2000, and she was named MIAAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2001. She received an MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2014 – recognition given for work done generally behind the scenes and with little attention.

“This is the top of the mountain, per se. This one does mean so much,” Leinaar said of the Forsythe Award. “The names that are associated with this over the years, I never thought I’d be put in that group.”

Leinaar remains a continuous source of support at a multitude of MHSAA championship events, and during her time on Council was one of the most frequent representatives handing out trophies and medals to champions and runners-up at Finals events. She began while athletic director at Delton Kellogg hosting the MHSAA Volleyball Finals in Class B and Class C and continues to assist with those championships now played at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

She also hosted Competitive Cheer Finals at Delton Kellogg in 1996 and 1997, Ski Finals while at Gaylord, and many more championship events across the Lower Peninsula. She continues to assist at the MHSAA’s Lower Peninsula Cross Country and Track & Field Finals.

After attending Delton Kellogg High School, Leinaar earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and recreation, with a minor in driver education, from MSU in 1982. She completed a master’s in athletic administration from Western Michigan University in 1994.

Leinaar has been a member for 40 years of both the MIAAA and NIAAA, and has served as chairperson of the MIAAA Annual Conference and awards chairperson for both the state and national bodies. She’s also served as chairperson of the MIAAA’s Exemplary Athletic Program.

Past recipients of the Charles E. Forsythe Award 

1978 - Brick Fowler, Port Huron; Paul Smarks, Warren 
1979 - Earl Messner, Reed City; Howard Beatty, Saginaw 
1980 - Max Carey, Freesoil 
1981 - Steven Sluka, Grand Haven; Samuel Madden, Detroit
1982 - Ernest Buckholz, Mt. Clemens; T. Arthur Treloar, Petoskey
1983 - Leroy Dues, Detroit; Richard Maher, Sturgis 
1984 - William Hart, Marquette; Donald Stamats, Caro
1985 - John Cotton, Farmington; Robert James, Warren 
1986 - William Robinson, Detroit; Irving Soderland, Norway 
1987 - Jack Streidl, Plainwell; Wayne Hellenga, Decatur 
1988 - Jack Johnson, Dearborn; Alan Williams, North Adams
1989 - Walter Bazylewicz, Berkley; Dennis Kiley, Jackson 
1990 - Webster Morrison, Pickford; Herbert Quade, Benton Harbor 
1991 - Clifford Buckmaster, Petoskey; Donald Domke, Northville 
1992 - William Maskill, Kalamazoo; Thomas G. McShannock, Muskegon 
1993 - Roy A. Allen Jr., Detroit; John Duncan, Cedarville 
1994 - Kermit Ambrose, Royal Oak 
1995 - Bob Perry, Lowell 
1996 - Charles H. Jones, Royal Oak 
1997 - Michael A. Foster, Richland; Robert G. Grimes, Battle Creek 
1998 - Lofton C. Greene, River Rouge; Joseph J. Todey, Essexville 
1999 - Bernie Larson, Battle Creek 
2000 - Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo; Jerry Cvengros, Escanaba 
2001 - Norm Johnson, Bangor; George Lovich, Canton 
2002 - John Fundukian, Novi 
2003 - Ken Semelsberger, Port Huron
2004 - Marco Marcet, Frankenmuth
2005 - Jim Feldkamp, Troy
2006 - Dan McShannock, Midland; Dail Prucka, Monroe
2007 - Keith Eldred, Williamston; Tom Hickman, Spring Lake
2008 - Jamie Gent, Haslett; William Newkirk, Sanford Meridian
2009 - Paul Ellinger, Cheboygan
2010 - Rudy Godefroidt, Hemlock; Mike Boyd, Waterford
2011 - Eric C. Federico, Trenton
2012 - Bill Mick, Midland
2013 - Jim Gilmore, Tecumseh; Dave Hutton, Grandville
2014 - Dan Flynn, Escanaba

2015 - Hugh Matson, Saginaw
2016 - Gary Hice, Petoskey; Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2017 - Chuck Nurek, Rochester Hills
2018 - Gary Ellis, Allegan
2019 - Jim Derocher, Negaunee; Fredrick J. Smith, Stevensville
2020 - Michael Garvey, Lawton
2021 - Leroy Hackley Jr., Byron Center; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2022 - Bruce Horsch, Houghton

PHOTOS (Top) Karen Leinaar, left, awards the 2022 Division 4 volleyball finalist trophy to Indian River Inland Lakes coach Nicole Moore. (Middle) Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998.