If Mark Uyl needs some advice as the new executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, he doesn’t need to go much farther than the kitchen table.
The MHSAA announced Tuesday that Uyl, 44, will succeed Jack Roberts in August, when Roberts will retire after 32 years as the executive director.
“The foundation that Jack has built is the strongest of any state association office in the country … it defines why we do what we do,” Uyl said. “It is the culture that we’ve built in Michigan.
“I expect to use that foundation as a launching pad, but I’ve had some pretty unique experiences the past 20 years that will help guide me in what we need to do to keep school-based sports important and keep it as pure as we can, but still look for new and innovative ways to grow our programs.”
Uyl lives in DeWitt with his wife, Marcie, and their three children: Jackson (17), Grant (15) and Madison (11). Marcie Uyl has served as a high school varsity basketball coach since 1994.
“Over the past 20 years, I’ve gone from student-athlete to teacher, coach, administrator, husband and parent,” Uyl said. “My wife has been a basketball coach, so every day I see high school basketball through the prism of a high school coach.
“Over the past decade-plus, I’ve watched my kids participate in different club sports and high school sports. I understand and have been involved in organized athletics in just about every way.”
But Uyl is best known as one of the top baseball officials in the country, working the College World Series in 2014 and 2017.
“I’ve been a college umpire for 20 years, so I’ve gotten a thick skin,” Uyl said. “I may have to give that up, but it might be a good thing. I’ve had 20 years of being gone every spring weekend. I love the on-field stuff, but having three kids at home, missing games and concerts and family things … it might be time to give it up.”
Uyl has also officiated college football for 12 seasons and has registered to officiate at least three MHSAA sports every year since 1992.
He is currently the high school representative for the Officiating Development Alliance, which includes supervisors of officials for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, CFL, MLS and NCAA Division I sports.
At the MHSAA, Uyl coordinated approximately 10,000 officials statewide and served as the director for baseball, cross country and wrestling. Uyl was also the administrator of the association’s catastrophic and concussion care insurance plans.
“Out of 10,000 officials, you’ll get feedback about ‘here’s what Mark and the department did well, here’s what he didn’t,'” Uyl said. “I’m smart enough to know some rocks come with the farm.
“But recruitment and retention remain at the top of the list. I would love the new person to do what I never had time to do. I believe we need to go full hog into online training for officials. We need resources to use the technology available to constantly provide education and training for officials. It’s something I wanted to do, but it didn’t get done.”
Before joining the MHSAA staff in 2004, Uyl taught, coached and worked as the athletic director and assistant principal at Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg High School. He also was the athletic director at Caledonia in 2000-01.
Uyl graduated from Caledonia High School in 1992 and from Calvin College in 1996 with a degree in history and physical education. At Calvin, he was a four-year starter on the baseball team, earning all-conference honors twice. He earned a master’s degree from Grand Valley State in educational leadership.
Uyl, who is the MHSAA’s assistant director, will become just the fifth executive director in the association’s 94-year history, following Charles Forsythe, Allen Bush, Vern Norris and Roberts.
“It should be a very smooth transition,” Uyl said. “Make no mistake … Jack Roberts is our director for the next three months. I’ve had hundreds of conversations with Jack. I feel I’m uniquely positioned and prepared for this job.
“I’ve had 14 years of work here, knowing what the very public functions of the MHSAA are, but also having a handle on the behind-the-scenes functions. For the next three months, I will look to pick the brain of the smartest man I’ve ever met, Jack Roberts. Outside of my two parents, I can’t think of anyone who has had a bigger impact on me both personally and professionally that Jack has had over the past 14 years.
“I’m excited about this opportunity. It’s an exciting time.”
Originally published: http://www.mlive.com/sports/saginaw/index.ssf/2018/05/longtime_assistant_mark_uyl_na.html