EAST LANSING, Mich. – Jan. 31 – A fixture in Comstock Park athletics for 40 years, Janet Gillette previously has been recognized on local, regional and statewide levels for her contributions mostly as the high school’s athletic director. On Sunday (Feb. 5), she’ll also be named the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s 25th Women In Sports Leadership Award recipient.

Each year, the Representative Council considers the achievements of women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics. The award will be presented during the Women In Sports Leadership Conference banquet at the Lexington Lansing Hotel.

Gillette is a 1973 graduate of Comstock Park, and began coaching at the school just a year later. A four-sport athlete in high school, she eventually coached girls tennis, softball, volleyball and middle school basketball while also joining the district’s teaching staff in 1977. Gillette then served as the high school athletic director from 1990 until retiring after the 2009-10 school year.

“One of my quotes that people always hear is there’s no greater privilege in life than to have an impact on a young person. I got to do that every day,” Gillette said. “And they impacted my life as well.”

Under her leadership, Comstock Park served host to numerous MHSAA postseason tournaments, including 15 Lower Peninsula Track and Field Finals and multiple Girls Competitive Cheer Finals. Gillette also was active with the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, serving as a presenter at numerous conferences and developing a coaches handbook.

“Few administrators have such a long record of hosting MHSAA Finals, evidence again of Janet Gillette’s drive to contribute not only at Comstock Park, but to high school sports on a larger scale,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. “Her involvement with female athletics dates back nearly to their inception. Jan’s impact will continue to be felt for years to come, and her contributions set a high standard for administrators in the future. We’re proud to honor her with the Women In Sports Leadership Award.”

Gillette is a member of the Comstock Park Athletic Hall of Fame. She also was recognized as Regional Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA, Athletic Director of the Year by the Michigan Competitive Cheer Coaches Association and the West Michigan Basketball-Football Association, and Comstock Park Employee of the Year in 2004. She received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2006 for her service to high school athletics.

In the community, Gillette has served as a coach in the Northwest Little League and has been active with the Alpine Baptist Church as an AWANA Director and a Sunday School teacher. She earned an Associate’s Degree from Grand Rapids Community College in 1975, where she also played basketball and softball, and a Bachelor’s Degree in physical education from Grand Valley State University in 1977.

The first Women In Sports Leadership Award was presented in 1990. Past recipients are:
1990 – Carol Seavoy, L’Anse
1991 – Diane Laffey, Harper Woods
1992 – Patricia Ashby, Scotts
1993 – Jo Lake, Grosse Pointe
1994 – Brenda Gatlin, Detroit
1995 – Jane Bennett, Ann Arbor
1996 – Cheryl Amos-Helmicki, Huntington Woods
1997 – Delores L. Elswick, Detroit
1998 – Karen S. Leinaar, Delton
1999 – Kathy McGee, Flint
2000 – Pat Richardson, Grass Lake
2001 – Suzanne Martin, East Lansing
2002 – Susan Barthold, Kentwood
2003 – Nancy Clark, Flint
2004 – Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, Grand Rapids
2005 – Barbara Redding, Capac
2006 – Melanie Miller, Lansing
2007 – Jan Sander, Warren Woods
2008 – Jane Bos, Grand Rapids
2009 – Gail Ganakas, Flint; Deb VanKuiken, Holly
2010 – Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2011 – Ellen Pugh, West Branch; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,600 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 approximately 1.6 million spectators each year.


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