EAST LANSING, Mich. – Dan Flynn of Escanaba has advocated for Michigan high school student-athletes both in the Upper Peninsula and throughout Michigan during his more than 40 years as a coach, official and athletic administrator. In recognition of his service, Flynn has been named the 2014 recipient of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Charles E. Forsythe Award.
The annual award is in its 37th year and is named after former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe, the Association’s first full-time and longest-serving chief executive. Forsythe Award recipients are selected each year by the MHSAA Representative Council, based on an individual’s outstanding contribution to the interscholastic athletics community. Flynn will receive his honor during the break after the first quarter of the MHSAA Class A Boys Basketball Final on March 22 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.
He joins five other Upper Peninsula recipients since 1978 to be honored with the award – William Hart of Marquette in 1984, Irving Soderland of Norway in 1986, Webster Morrison of Pickford in 1990, John Duncan of Cedarville in 1993 and Jerry Cvengros of Escanaba in 2000.
Flynn, 67, joined the staff at Escanaba High School as a teacher and coach in 1971 and eventually served as the varsity wrestling coach from 1973-84, varsity football coach from 1984-2011 and varsity boys track and field coach from 1992-2002. He also served as athletic director from 1983-96 and as an assistant principal for five years.
Flynn also represented the Upper Peninsula as an elected member of the MHSAA Representative Council from 1988-2010.
“He’s a coach at heart. He was very student-athlete oriented in his thinking about MHSAA policies and programs and was a dependable voice to bring up the student perspective,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “While he spent his career in the Upper Peninsula, he was capable of thinking about the good for the state as a whole. We’re proud to honor Dan Flynn with the Forsythe Award.”
Before beginning at Escanaba, Flynn taught and coached at Ishpeming High School, including leading the wrestling program from 1967-71. He coached Ishpeming to an MHSAA Upper Peninsula wrestling championship in 1971 and then Escanaba’s wrestling team to six MHSAA U.P. titles in nine seasons. As an assistant football coach for the Eskymos he helped lead the team to the MHSAA Class A title in 1981 and a runner-up finish in 1979.
He also served as a track and field official for 42 seasons, and this fall returned to coaching as a football assistant at Marquette High School.
“My focus has been taking care of kids and helping kids have success. It’s the essence of education, the essence of coaching,” Flynn said. “The coaches help, the schools help, the parents help provide the programs. But the reason is the kids.”
Flynn received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2000 for his contributions to the association. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001, the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
His contributions to his community have reached outside athletics as well. Flynn has participated with the Youth Assistance Program and American Heart Association in Delta County and as a CPR instructor for the Superior Upper Peninsula chapter of the American Red Cross.
Flynn grew up in Chicago and received his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Northern Michigan University in 1969 and a master’s from NMU in 1993, and played football for the Wildcats as an undergrad. He also studied at Utah State University and the University of Oregon.