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Norris Award Presented to James Danhoff At Officials Awards Banquet

09 norris

EAST LANSING, Mich. –April 6 – A leader in the recruitment and education of high school game officials, James Danhoff of Richland has been selected to receive the Michigan High School Athletic Association's Vern L. Norris Award for 2009. He is pictured above with former MHSAA Executive Director Vern Norris (left) and current MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts (right).

The Norris Award is presented annually to a veteran official who has been active in a local officials association, has mentored other officials, and has been involved in officials’ education. It is named for Vern L. Norris, who was executive director of the MHSAA from 1978-86, and well-respected by officials on the state and national levels.  Danhoff will be presented the award at the MHSAA’s 30th annual Officials’ Awards and Alumni Banquet on April 18 at the Radisson Hotel Lansing, which begins at 7 p.m.

The role of the game official in high school sports is that of an educator – someone who not only administers the rules of the game, but who helps maintain the educational atmosphere of the event.  Danhoff has not only been in the role of a teacher-official for 44 years, but has spent that same amount of time as a teacher-coach and school administrator in northeastern and southwestern Michigan. 

Following his graduation from Otterbein College in 1965, Danoff was a teacher and two-sport coach at Alpena High School for seven years.  He then served as principal at Hopkins High School and Plainwell High School over a 21-year span.  Since 1993, he’s been a part-time professor in Education at Western Michigan University, and he’s also a Truant Officer in Kalamazoo County.

As a basketball official, Danhoff received the opportunity to work an MHSAA Boys Championship game in 1982, but has left his mark in the southwestern part of the state by coordinating, educating and recruiting other officials.

Since 1993, Danhoff has been an assignor, trainer, clinician and observer of officials in basketball and football for three conferences – the Southwestern Michigan Athletic (Big 16), Wolverine and Kalamazoo Valley Association – serving 36 schools.  He will be retiring from that role at the conclusion of the 2008-09 school year.

Danhoff has received distinguished service awards from the Wolverine Conference and the KVA.  Western Michigan University honored him with a Teacher Excellence Award in 2005.  His community involvement includes membership in the Plainwell Rotary and Optimist Clubs, working with the Plainwell youth community programs in basketball and baseball, and as a Palliative Care Visitor for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  He also earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Central Michigan University in 1970.

“The leadership Jim Danhoff has provided to the Big 16, Wolverine and Kalamazoo Valley conferences has been exemplary,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA.  “He has successfully recruited, trained and directed officials, and the level of officiating in that part of the state has improved greatly because of Jim’s outstanding leadership, organization and commitment.  He is the epitome of what a Norris Award winner should be.”

“Jim Danhoff is out observing and assisting officials every night games are being played in his leagues, and he’s been the most visible local officiating assignor and supervisor we have in this state,” said Mark Uyl, assistant director of the MHSAA.  “It’s obvious that Jim’s successful career as a high school principal has served him well in working with school personnel and officials in resolving many difficult situations that come about through athletic competition.  He is one of the true officiating leaders in our state, and we wish him well as he heads into retirement.”

Previous recipients of the Norris Award are:
1992 – Ted Wilson, East Detroit
1993 – Fred Briggs, Burton
1994 – Joe Brodie, Flat Rock
1995 – Jim Massar, Flint
1996 – Jim Lamoreaux, St. Ignace
1997 – Ken Myllyla, Escanaba
1998 – Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo
1999 – Richard Kalahar, Jackson
2000 – Barb Beckett, Traverse City; Karl Newingham, Bay City
2001 – Herb Lipschultz, Kalamazoo
2002 – Robert Scholie, Hancock
2003 – Ron Nagy, Hazel Park
2004 – Carl Van Heck, Grand Rapids
2005 – Bruce Moss, Alma
2006 – Jeanne Skinner, Grand Rapids
2007 – Terry Wakeley, Grayling
2008 – Will Lynch, Honor

High school game officials with 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50-years of service will also be honored at the Officials’ Awards & Alumni Banquet on April 18 at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing.

Nine officials with 50 or more years of service will be honored, along with 15 officials with 45 years. A 40-year award will be presented to 27 officials.  In addition, 115 officials with 30 years, and 191 officials with 20 years, of experience, will be honored.  With the induction of this year’s group of 357, the honor roll of officials who have aided young student-athletes grows to 7,568 since the inception of the banquet in 1980.

This year’s banquet will again feature brief multimedia presentations prior to the introduction of each group of  recipients, with historical highlights from 1989, 1979, 1969, 1964 and 1959.

Tickets for the banquet are available to the public and are priced at $20.  Tickets will not be sold at the door.  For additional information, contact Faye Verellen at 517-332-5046.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 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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