EAST LANSING – A pair of administrators who combined have served high school athletes for more than 60 years on local, state and national levels – Bear Lake athletic director Karen S. Leinaar and Buchanan athletic director Fredrick J. Smith – have been named recipients of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Allen W. Bush Award for 2014.
Al Bush served as executive director of the MHSAA for 10 years. The award honors individuals for past and continuing service to prep athletics as a coach, administrator, official, trainer, doctor or member of the media. The award was developed to bring recognition to men and women who are giving and serving without a lot of attention. This is the 23rd year of the award, with selections made by the MHSAA’s Representative Council.
This year’s honorees have much in common. Both have served multiple school districts during careers each stretching more than three decades. Both have hosted a variety of MHSAA tournament events at multiple levels, including Leinaar managing MHSAA Volleyball and Competitive Cheer Finals.
Both also have been registered MHSAA game officials for 29 years and continue to serve as elected members of the Representative Council – Leinaar since 2000 and Smith since 2005.
“One quality that both Karen and Fred share is their willingness to serve others,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. “No local athletic administrator has worked at more MHSAA Finals venues than Karen, and no one has conducted more leadership training for athletic administrators than Fred.”
A multiple-sport standout while attending Delton-Kellogg High School, Leinaar joined that school’s staff in 1982 and served as athletic director and recreation director during a tenure stretching more than 16 years. She later served as athletic director at both Gaylord and then Benzie Central before taking her current position in 2010 at Bear Lake, where she organizes athletic programs for students in grades 5-12.