For years now, Brighton High School has been known for the quality of its athletic programs.
Recently, the school’s athletic department got validation from a statewide association of athletic directors.
Earlier this year, Brighton athletic director John Thompson learned Brighton was named a recipient of the Exemplary Athletic Program from the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
Last week, Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director John Roberts recognized the program in an appearance at a Brighton Area Schools board meeting.
“What it does is it just shows the commitment the district has to everything,” board president Jay Krause said. “We focus on academics, athletics and the arts equally, and it shows we have systems in place and a culture that drives these results.”
The MIAAA recognized two schools this year, Brighton and Calumet, schools more than 500 miles apart that, as it turns out compete against each other in hockey every January.
They are among 21 schools that have earned the award since it was first awarded in 2000.
“It’s always good to have confirmation that the district is doing the right things and tries to stay ahead of the curve,” Thompson said. “You can’t have a quality program without everyone contributing. We have a direct buy-in from everyone, and that’s crucial.”
The process began with a self-evaluation based on three years of data submitted to the MIAAA.
“They review the report, and if they see enough good things, they have a site visit,” Thompson said.
“There was no script,” Krause said. “We didn’t know what they wanted. We talked about our community’s involvement in sports day to day, but we let what we do speak for itself. We didn’t have a plan as to how to convey a message.”
Among the programs cited was the school’s emphasis on coaches’ education.
“We take a lot of pride in that,” Thompson said. “No one likes to give up time to sit in a classroom, but our coaches do and our program is better for it.”
Brighton is the second school in the KLAA to be honored; Novi won the award in 2008.
“It’s a prestigious award,” Krause said. “It just shows we take every aspect of our school seriously.”
Every coach will tell you that you don’t have success without fundamentals.
Thompson, a former college football coach, says the award was a team effort. Copies of the proclamation will be displayed in buildings throughout the district.
“This kind of recognition isn’t an individual thing. It takes everyone,” he said. “It’s all of their contributions that make us what we are.
“It’s a tribute to hard work done by many,” he added. “I just try to bring them together. When you bring everyone to work together great things can happen.”