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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Feb. 27 – A registered Michigan High School Athletic Association official for 30 years, Traverse City’s Barbara Beckett may be best known in that circle as the first woman to officiate an MHSAA Boys Basketball Final, in 1995. But her contributions in athletics are many and continue to be far-reaching, and they will be celebrated when she receives the MHSAA’s 26th Women in Sports Leadership Award on March 16 at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.  

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. 

Beckett will receive her award during halftime of this season’s MHSAA Girls Basketball Class A Final. She was on the crew that called the 1995 Class C Boys Basketball Final between Ishpeming and Lakeview, and she achieved another MHSAA first in 2000 when she became the first female selected for the Vern L. Norris Award for her work as an official. She also was named to the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Honor in 2006.

Beckett also has worked three MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals and three Softball Finals, twice serving at the latter as umpire in chief, and was an alternate for a number of other championship games. She has officiated several Boys and Girls Basketball Semifinals and Softball Quarterfinals during her career, and continues to serve as president of both the Grand Traverse Area Umpires Association and the Northern Sports Officials Association. She also serves as an assigner of girls and boys basketball and softball officials in the Traverse City area.

“Barbara Beckett is a demonstrated leader, evidenced by her previously being awarded the Norris Award for her efforts in recruiting and training officials,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. “In that regard, she’s a trailblazer for women in the officiating family, and her influence continues to be felt. We’re pleased to honor her with the Women In Sports Leadership Award.”

Beckett’s contributions to the Traverse City community sports scene are similarly significant. She’s served as program director for the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA for 28 years, and during that time has developed women’s, men’s and co-ed softball leagues that have grown to include more than 1,500 players and a men’s recreational basketball league with more than 250 participants. Under her guidance, the YMCA’s Pop Warner football league has grown to become one of the largest in the Midwest with 2,500 players.

Beckett also has served as commissioner of District 19 of the Michigan Amateur Softball Association since 1992, and has been instrumental in hosting four women’s, two men’s and one co-ed state final. She’s officiated both women and men’s MASA state finals and received that body’s Award of Excellence in 1996.

“My purpose always has been to be an advocate for the officials and game participants,” Beckett said. “I try to be an active advocate all the time. And working for the Y too, we’re all about participation. My time 24 hours a day is actively advocating for game participants and officials.” 

Beckett is a 1971 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School and a 1973 graduate of Northwestern Michigan College.

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
2012 – Janet Gillette, Comstock Park

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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