'Retired' Garvey Remains Eager to Give

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 18, 2020

Earlier this week, Mike Garvey told his wife she can't let him quit all that he does to contribute to school sports across the state of Michigan, even if he is officially "retired."

But after 40 years serving in a variety of roles, he really doesn't have plans to stop. And she wasn't intending to make that request. 

"I married the best girl in the world," Garvey said, "and she’s supportive and urges me to do the stuff that I enjoy."

And that has stretched over tenures at four Michigan high schools, serving as a teacher, coach and administrator, and continuing today in various roles at the local and statewide levels. 

To celebrate his devotion and many contributions, Garvey has been named the 2020 recipient of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Charles E. Forsythe Award.

The annual award is in its 43rd 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.

Garvey, who grew up mostly in Detroit, began his educational career in 1980 teaching at Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock, Ill., before returning to Michigan in 1985 to teach at Lawton High School. While at Lawton, he helped the Blue Devils’ wrestling program continue a dominating run as an assistant coach on Lower Peninsula Class D championship teams in 1986 and 1987 and runner-up teams in 1988 and 1989, and then as head coach of the 1990 Class D title winner. He also served as athletic director at Lawton from 1994-99 before leaving for the same position at Delton Kellogg, where he served from 1999-2006. Garvey then was athletic director at Otsego from 2006-10, and he then served as athletic director at Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep from 2010-18.

He earned a number of accolades during his time as a coach and administrator, including the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2015 for his many contributions to educational athletics that often went unsung despite their great importance. Garvey also has been a registered MHSAA official for 35 years, in softball for all 35 and for a mix of seasons in baseball, basketball, volleyball, wrestling and track & field. He continues to instruct as part of the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program (CAP) and has served as tournament manager for the MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals since their 2018 move to Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. 

“I never looked at my jobs as jobs. I always looked at it as I had a mission and was trying to complete a mission,” said Garvey, who continues to reside in Lawton. “I think I can still help people, so maybe my mission isn’t complete. 

“It’s a blast. I just feel like it’s a chance to give. Schools and athletics and everything have given so much to me. Plus the human interaction – working with kids and coaches and officials, it just fits me and I enjoy it.” 

Among accolades at the state and national levels, Garvey received the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) 2016 Distinguished Service Award and the George Lovich State Award of Merit in 2009 from the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA).

Garvey remains an active member of both the MIAAA and NIAAA and the Michigan Wrestling Coaches Association. He remains on the faculty for the NIAAA’s Leadership Training Institute and has served as Michigan’s coordinator for the program. He’s been a long-serving member of the MHSAA’s Wrestling Committee and hosted more than 75 tournament events while an athletic director. He served as co-commissioner of the former Kalamazoo Valley Association and currently is the executive secretary of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.

He’s also rejoined the coaching ranks, taking over as head coach of Vicksburg High School’s girls and boys golf teams this school year.

“Even in ‘retirement,’ Mike Garvey continues to serve students, coaches and administrators with enthusiasm,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “He continues to pass on to our current coaches the best practices he’s learned over decades, and he has played a sizable role in making the Team Wrestling Finals a record-setting event for attendance the last few seasons. His brings a genuine enjoyment to these activities, and we’re fortunate to have him continuing to take leading roles.”

Garvey began classes at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice as a high school freshman, but after less than a month moved overseas as the family followed his father’s job with Chrysler. Garvey matriculated in Geneva, Switzerland, and then completed high school at The American School in London, England. Once back in the United States, Garvey earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Michigan University. He remains active in community service through his church and lake association.

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

PHOTO: Teams take the mat for this season's MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals at Wings Event Center, again managed this winter by Mike Garvey. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

MHSAA High School Sports Participation Continues to Exceed Population Ranking Nationally

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 15, 2023

Michigan continued to rank 10th nationally in high school-aged population during the 2022-23 school year and continued to best that ranking in participation in high school sports, according to the annual national participation study conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

Michigan ranked ninth for overall participation nationally, based on a total of 268,070 participants who competed in sports for which the MHSAA conducts postseason tournaments. The total counts students once for each sport played, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.

Michigan also ranked ninth nationally for both girls (111,569) and boys (156,501) participation separately, while ranking ninth for high-school aged boys population and 10th for girls according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Michigan’s national rankings in seven sports improved from 2021-22, while nine sports saw lower national rankings than the previous year. The biggest jumps came in girls volleyball and boys soccer, which both moved up two spots – volleyball to fourth-highest participation nationally, and boys soccer to eighth. Girls golf (fourth), softball (seventh), girls track & field (seventh), girls swimming & diving and boys swimming & diving (both eighth) also moved up on their respective national lists.

Participation in several more MHSAA sports also continued to outpace the state’s rankings for high school-aged population.

For girls, participation in bowling (fourth), tennis (fourth), cross country (sixth), basketball (seventh), competitive cheer (ninth) and soccer (ninth) all ranked higher than their population listing of 10th nationally. Among boys sports, bowling (second), ice hockey (fourth), tennis (fifth), golf (fifth), basketball (sixth), track & field (sixth), cross country (seventh), football – all formats combined (seventh) and baseball (eighth) exceeded that ninth ranking for population.

Only 11 states sponsor alpine skiing, but Michigan ranked third on both the girls and boys lists for that sport. Wrestling, with boys and girls totals counted together, ranked eighth.

Participation nationally rose more than three percent from 2021-22 to 7,857,969 participants, the first upward movement in participation data since the all-time record of 7,980,886 in 2017-18, which was followed by the first decline in 30 years in 2018-19 and the two-year halt in data collection by the NFHS related to the pandemic. (The MHSAA continued to collect and report its data during this time.) The national total includes 4,529,789 boys and 3,328,180 girls, according to figures obtained from the 51 NFHS member state associations, which include the District of Columbia.

Eleven-player football remained the most popular boys sport, and most popular participation sport overall, with the total climbing back over one million participants. The total of 1,028,761 participants marked an increase of 54,969 and 5.6 percent from the previous year. This year’s increase was the first in the sport since 2013 and only the second increase since the all-time high of 1,112,303 in 2008-09. There also was a slight gain (34,935 to 35,301) in the number of boys in 6-, 8- and 9-player football.

Next on the boys list were outdoor track & field, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, cross country, tennis, golf, and swimming & diving, respectively.

On the girls side, outdoor track and field (up 6.5 percent) and volleyball (3.6) remained in the top two spots, while basketball reclaimed the third position. Cross country ranked fourth, followed by softball, soccer, golf, tennis, swimming & diving and competitive spirit, respectively.

Texas remained atop the list of state participation with 827,446, but California closed the gap in second adding 25,000 participants to climb to 787,697. New York is third with 356,803, followed by Illinois (335,801), Ohio (323,117), Pennsylvania (316,587), Florida (297,389), New Jersey (272,159), Michigan (268,070) and Minnesota (219,094), which climbed into the top 10 past Massachusetts.

The participation survey has been compiled in its current form by the NFHS since 1971.