"We held our breath every day;" MHSAA completes three seasons

One-on-One with Executive Director Mark Uyl
MHSAA completes all three sports despite pandemic
Posted at 7:34 PM, Jul 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-18 19:34:45-04

(WXMI) — It's certainly not the way that Mark Uyl had envisioned for his third year as MHSAA Executive Director after going through a pandemic.

However, all three seasons saw championships crowned in every sport despite the roller coaster ride of shutdowns and suspensions of play.

"We literally held our breath every day," Uyl told FOX 17, "as you know going back to last August, the plan was for all three seasons to all reach the finish line. There were a lot of challenges, a lot of hurdles and we're just thankful that we were able to get all three in the finish line."

One-on-One with Mark Uyl of the MHSAA

Throughout the suspensions, Uyl had parents, coaches and even athletes criticizing himself and the MHSAA.

He says it's been a crazy journey.

"I think what stands out the most is just how important high school sports are to so many kids, so many parents, so many families, and probably most importantly, so many communities," Uyl added.

"It's the day that we live in, that whenever something you don't agree with you got to blame somebody I think that's really been brought out by social media. Personally, I've grown incredibly thick skin being a 20 year college baseball umpire, you just keep moving forward and I think some of the criticism too was by a lot of people that had nowhere near all the facts."

And Uyl says he never wavered on all three seasons having championships.

"There were certainly some times of doubt," he admitted, "we were so close with fall sports in November with three weeks to go in football one week to go in volleyball and one day to go in girls swimming and diving and those ultimately got delayed for two months. Really from the start, I was most concerned about winter sports because we knew being indoors would be problematic and winter really had to be the most patient things got delayed, but we were able to finish all of our winter tournaments."

After the spring postseason was completed with full capacity, many turned from criticizing to celebrating the MHSAA or silence.

"They were either patting us on the back or very very quiet," Uyl joked, "But you know, but that's the way it goes, you need thick skin, a healthy sense of humor and really at the end of the day you put what's best for kids first."

As we get set to head into the fall season in a few weeks, many are hopeful for full stadiums and a full return to normalcy.

Uyl says that is also his hope after learning from last year.

"I have a great deal more confidence than a year ago," he added, "I think the narrative that got spun a bit was that sports are spreading the virus but the science and the data has proven that that simply is not true. So, we're planning for as normal and fall as possible and I think one of the saving graces is everything but volleyball and girls swimming and diving is outdoors."