12 Leaders in High School Activity Programs Receive NFHS Citations

Twelve leaders in high school activity programs across the country have been selected to receive National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Citations.

An award designed to honor individuals who have made contributions to the NFHS, state high school associations, athletic director and coaching professions, the officiating avocation and fine arts/performing arts programs, the NFHS Citation is one of the most highly regarded achievements in high school athletics and performing arts.

The 2014 NFHS Citation recipients received their awards July 1 at the 95th annual NFHS Summer Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Eight of the 12 award winners represent NFHS-member state high school associations. The other four Citation recipients represent NFHS professional organizations for officials, coaches, music leaders and speech/debate/theatre directors.

The eight state association recipients are Paul Hoey, associate executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference; Brad Cashman, retired executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association; Gary Phillips, assistant executive director of the Georgia High School Association; Sandy Searcy, assistant commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association; Debra Velder, assistant director of the Nebraska School Activities Association; Wadie Moore, assistant executive director of the Arkansas Activities Association; Marie Ishida, retired executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation; and Gary Matthews, executive director of the Alaska School Activities Association.

Other Citation recipients are Jeff Hilyer, Official Citation recipient, football official, Opelika, Alabama; Tom Zimorski, Coach Citation recipient, retired deputy director of the Virginia High School League; Rosanne Malek, Music Citation recipient, fine arts coordinator for the Iowa Department of Education; and Ken Pickering, Speech/Debate/Theatre Citation recipient, retired assistant executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Following is biographical information on the 2014 NFHS Citation recipients:


Paul Hoey 

Section 1 

Paul Hoey has served as associate executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) since 2004 after a 35-year career as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal at four Connecticut schools.

In addition to serving as CIAC liaison for soccer, football, basketball, baseball and golf, Hoey handles all eligibility appeals and game officials’ contracts. He also coordinates the CIAC sportsmanship and cooperative team programs.

Hoey began his career in education as a teacher at Granby (Connecticut) Memorial Junior-Senior High School in 1969. After 12 years as a teacher and assistant principal at Granby Memorial, Hoey became principal of East Granby (Connecticut) Middle and High School in 1981. He then served as principal of Rocky Hill (Connecticut) High School for three years before assuming the role of principal of Newington High School in 1990, where he worked until joining the CIAC in 2004.

During his years as a high school principal, Hoey chaired some of the CIAC’s most important boards and committees, including the CIAC Board of Control and Financial Development Committee. He also chaired the Girls State Swimming Committee for 24 years and was a member of the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) Board of Directors for six years. Hoey was named Connecticut High School Principal of the Year in 1998.

At the national level, Hoey is president of the Council of New England Secondary School Principals Association, and he was a member of the NFHS Citizenship and Equity Committee from 2006 to 2010.

Hoey, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Sacred Heart (Connecticut) University and his master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University, received a distinguished service award from the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors in 2009.

Brad Cashman 

Section 2 

Brad Cashman retired in 2012 after 32 years on the staff of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). He joined the PIAA staff in 1980 and served as assistant executive director for five years and associate executive director for eight years before leading the PIAA as executive director for 19 years.

The PIAA experienced tremendous growth under Cashman’s leadership. Some of his major accomplishments include expanding membership to include Philadelphia public schools and private schools associated with the Philadelphia Catholic League, establishing and/or expanding state championships for 10 athletic teams and increasing interscholastic athletic opportunities for female athletes with the addition of five new championships in girls sports since 1993.

Before joining the PIAA, Cashman held the positions of business education teacher, head football coach, assistant basketball coach and assistant track and field coach at Northern York High School in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. Cashman was also a PIAA-registered sports official in the sports of football, basketball and track and field.

Nationally, Cashman was a member of the NFHS Football Rules Committee for 30 years, including a four-year term as chairman, and he chaired the Football Equipment Subcommittee for five years. He also served a one-year term on the NFHS Board of Directors in 2008-09. Cashman was also a recipient of the NFHS Outstanding Service Award for his contributions to football.

A college football honorable mention All-American and all-Southern Conference offensive lineman, Cashman earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration accounting in 1968 from the College of William and Mary after transferring from George Washington University when the school discontinued football. In retirement, Cashman has officiated interscholastic and intercollegiate track meets, including the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

Gary Phillips 

Section 3 

Gary Phillips succeeds Ralph Swearngin as executive director of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) on July 1 after 13 years as assistant executive director. Phillips joined the staff in 2001 and has handled eligibility, coaches education, cross country, track, golf and wrestling.

Prior to joining the GHSA, Phillips was a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal for 33 years at five different schools in Georgia, including 24 years at Fayette County High School.

Phillips was a teacher and coach at Fayette County for seven years to begin his career in education, followed by similar roles at West Rome High School, Macon Central High School, Johnson County High School in Wrightsville and Fulton County Schools in Atlanta. As head football coach at Johnson County High School in 1979, he coached the team led by legendary running back Herschel Walker to the GHSA Class A State Championship.

Phillips returned to Fayette County in 1984 to begin his administrative career as assistant principal. After two years in that role, Phillips was promoted to principal of Fayette County High School and served in that capacity for 15 years before assuming his duties at the GHSA.

After graduating from Maryville (Tennessee) College in 1968, Phillips went on to earn his master’s in educational administration from Georgia State University and his Ed.S. degree in educational administration from the University of West Georgia.

Among his many honors, Phillips was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He was selected Class A Football Coach of the Year in 1978-79 and Principal of the Year in 1998 by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals. In addition, Phillips recently concluded a four-year term on the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

Sandy Searcy 

Section 4 

Sandy Searcy has served as assistant commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) for the past 15 years, which followed a 14-year career in the athletic department at Bloomington (Indiana) North High School.

Since joining the IHSAA staff in 1999, Searcy has been responsible for the sports of softball, boys and girls swimming and diving, and volleyball. She also has administered the IHSAA Student Advisory Committee and the IHSAA Student Leadership Conference.

After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she competed on the IU women’s swimming team, Searcy was a teacher, coach and girls athletic director at Bloomington North High School. She was girls swimming coach for 14 years, boys swimming coach for 12 years and girls athletic director for 11 years. She also was a physical education teacher.

With her expertise in swimming, Searcy also assisted with the boys and girls teams at Bloomington South High School, Tri-North Middle School, the Indiana University Swim Camp, as well as the Bloomington Aquatic Club and Bloomington Swim Club.

As a member of the IHSAA staff, Searcy has been very involved at the national level on NFHS committees. She has served on the Gymnastics Rules Committee, Softball Rules Committee, Volleyball Rules Committee, National Student Leadership Planning Committee and Spirit of Sport Selection Committee.

Searcy has served on the Indiana University Alumni Association Executive Council since 2011, was the I Association Board President for two years and received the I Association President’s Award in 2012. She was president of the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association (ICGSA) in 1997-98 and was ICGSA Coach of the Year twice. She also chaired the ICGSA Swimming Committee for 10 years.

While serving at Bloomington North, Searcy was a member of the IHSAA Rules Proposal Committee for 10 years and the IHSAA Girls Advisory Board for five years.

Debra Velder 

Section 5 

Deb Velder is a lifelong Nebraskan who has contributed 40 years of service to the young people of the state. After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1974, Velder went right to work as the assistant city director of athletics/intramurals for the Lincoln Public Schools. In 1981, she was named assistant director of the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA), where she has remained since.

As the current associate director of the NSAA, Velder oversees the sport of tennis, as well as speech, theatre and journalism. She is also the administrator of sanctioning, the NSAA coach education program and the classification process. Velder previously administered the sports of volleyball, gymnastics and swimming and diving, as well as debate. She is one of several longtime state association leaders who have helped advance girls sports across the nation.

Velder’s involvement with the NFHS includes terms on the Girls Gymnastics Rules Committee, the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee, the Equity Committee and the Volleyball Rules Committee. She has also been a workshop presenter at the NFHS Summer Meeting and the National Athletic Directors Conference.

At the local level, Velder participates in the Lincoln East Parent Advisory Board and the Lincoln/Lancaster Women’s Commission on Girls in Sports. In addition, Velder has been an NSAA volleyball official and spent one season as an assistant volleyball coach at Lincoln Pius X High School.

A graduate of Crete (Nebraska) High School, Velder earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Among her honors, she earned the Nebraska Speech Communicator Award and the Girls and Women in Sport Pioneer Award.

Wadie Moore 

Section 6 

Wadie Moore is in his 20th year as an assistant executive director of the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) after a 25-year career as a sportswriter. His duties at the AAA include marketing, public relations, media relations and all publications.

A Little Rock native, Moore began his journalism career in 1968 at the Arkansas Gazette, where he served as the high school editor from 1971 to 1991. He went on to become the sports editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial for two years until joining the AAA in 1994. During his time at the AAA, Moore compiled the Arkansas High School Record Book and revised the Arkansas Review of Sports Book. He also created the AAA Media Distinguished Service Award and the AAA Media Handbook.

Locally, Moore served a 10-year term on the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Board and another 10 years on the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame Board.

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At the national level, Moore served on the initial NFHS Coaches Publications Committee, which was responsible for producing the NFHS Coaches’ Quarterly. He also served on the NFHS National Records Committee.

Moore’s list of honors is long and distinguished. During his sportswriting career, he won two first-place awards from the Associated Press for feature sportswriting and sports column writing. In 1994, Moore received the Society of Professional Journalists First Place Award for sports column writing. The Arkansas High School Coaches Association, Arkansas Officials Association Hall of Fame and the Arkansas High School Athletic Administrators Association, among others, have honored him with distinguished service awards.

In addition, Moore has been inducted into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame for sportswriting and in 2011, was inducted into the Arkansas Sportscasters/Sportswriters Hall of Fame.

Marie Ishida 

Section 7 

Marie Ishida retired as executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) in 2012 after 11 years in the position. She was president of the CIF from 1994 to 1996 – the first female to hold that elected position. She also is the first female to head the state CIF office and was the fourth female nationally to head a state high school association.

Ishida began her educational career in California in 1971 as a teacher and a track and field, volleyball, basketball and softball coach at Faye Ross Junior High in Artesia. From there, she went to Lakewood Artesia High School as a basketball and softball coach and subsequently was promoted to assistant athletic director and assistant dean of students. As athletic director and assistant principal at Santa Cruz High School, Ishida also served as the CIF softball rules interpreter and began nine years of service on the Central Coast Section (CCS) Board of Managers.

From 1986 to 1995, Ishida was principal at Carmel (California) High School and chaired the CIF Basketball Advisory Committee. In that role, Ishida assumed an eight-year term on the CCS Executive Committee. Ishida’s accolades include the NFHS Outstanding Service Award, the CIF Extraordinary Service Award and the California Coaches Association’s highest honor – the William S. Rockwell Distinguished Service Award.

Ishida served two terms on the NFHS Board of Directors. She was an at-large member from 1998 to 2002, and the Section 7 representative from 2006 to 2010.  She also served on the NFHS Hall of Fame Screening Committee, including one year as chair. 

At the state level, Ishida was responsible for implementing a state championship in football, as well as soccer and girls wrestling. She also played a key role in the CIF negotiating a 15-year deal with Time Warner Cable to televise regional and state championship events in boys and girls sports.

 Gary Matthews 

Section 8 

Gary Matthews is retiring this summer after 21 years as executive director of the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA). He is the longest-tenured executive director in ASAA history and nationally is fifth in years of service among state association directors.

Matthews started his career at the high school level in 1966, serving as a music teacher at New Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Redbank Valley High School. Two years later, he moved to Haines, Alaska, to begin a 46-year career in education in Alaska.

Matthews was a music teacher for 11 years, and then served as principal and activities director at Haines High School for 14 years before joining the ASAA as executive director in 1993. While in Haines, he was an active volunteer throughout the community.

During his years at Haines, Matthews was selected principal of the year and served on the boards of the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals and the ASAA. Upon retirement from the Haines School District, he received an Honorary High School Diploma from students at the high school.

At the national level, Matthews served a term on the NFHS Board of Directors from 1997 to 2000. He also served on the Football Rules Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and Appeals Committee.

During his career at the ASAA, Matthews helped expand services to member schools, increased the number and size of state tournaments and tripled the staff with an increased operating budget of 500 percent. He helped establish the Alaska Endowment for Youth Activities, adopted a coaches education program, implemented legislation on concussion management and home school participation, established the Alaska High School Hall of Fame and promoted the “Play for Keeps, Win for Life” tobacco, alcohol and controlled substance program.

Matthews has served as president of the Special Olympics Alaska Board of Directors, and was a trustee for the Alaska Endowment for Youth Activities.

Jeff Hilyer 

NFHS Officials Association 

Although an attorney and accountant by profession, Jeff Hilyer has been involved in sports since his days in high school and now spends a large amount of his time on the playing field as an official.

At the high school level, Hilyer has been a licensed football official with the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) since 1980 and has officiated three AHSAA state championships and two all-star games. Within the AHSAA, Hilyer was president of the Big East Football Officials Association for 10 years and president of the Phenix City Football Officials Association for five years. He also has served as an instructor at a football officials camp for the past 20 years.

In addition, Hilyer officiates football at the collegiate level and currently is a regular member of the Sun Belt Conference. He was previously a regular member of the Ohio Valley Conference and Gulf South Conference, and a supplemental official in the Southeastern Conference. Hilyer officiated the 2005 Ohio Valley Conference Football Championship and the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Football Championship. He was the referee for the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco and the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. 

Hilyer also officiated softball for a number of years. He was president of the Opelika Umpires Association for nine years and was an umpire in six Amateur Softball Association national tournaments.

Nationally, Hilyer was a member of the NFHS Officials Association Board of Directors from 1998 to 2002 and was president in 2000. He also served on the NFHS Officials Education Committee for two years. Currently, he is serving a term as the NFHS Officials Association representative on the NFHS Hall of Fame Screening Committee. Hilyer also served on the AHSAA Officials Conference Organization Committee for two years.

Among his awards, Hilyer has been honored by the AHSAA three times, including District Football Official of the Year (2002), State Football Official of the Year (2002) and the Distinguished Service Award (2012).

Tom Zimorski 

NFHS Coaches Association 

Before retiring in 2013, Tom Zimorski’s impact on high school students extended beyond his position as the Virginia High School League’s (VHSL) football rules interpreter and onto the field as a football and golf coach, and as a longtime football official.

Zimorski served the VHSL in a variety of capacities for 13 years beginning in 2000 as the assistant director for compliance. In 2002, he was named VHSL Deputy Director. During his time at the VHSL, he provided eligibility interpretations and coordinated VHSL eligibility appeals for school divisions, principals, athletic directors, coaches, parents and students. He was also instrumental in reviewing and rewriting the VHSL Handbook and Policy Manual, and he coordinated VHSL sportsmanship programs.

In 2003, Zimorski became the VHSL football rules interpreter and clinician. It was also the first year that he served as a member of the NFHS Football Rules Committee, a committee on which he still serves.

Prior to joining the VHSL, Zimorski spent 30 years in the Charlottesville and Albemarle County school systems as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and his master’s from the University of Virginia.

An interscholastic football official for 25 years, Zimorski spent three years as commissioner of his local officials association. He has also officiated at the collegiate level, working as a National Collegiate Athletic Association football official for more than 20 years in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (seven years), Atlantic 10 Conference (two years) and Atlantic Coast Conference (13 years). Zimorski concluded his on-field career as the referee of the officiating crew at the 2013 Cotton Bowl and now serves as an ACC replay booth official. In addition to football, Zimorski also officiated high school lacrosse.

Rosanne Malek 

NFHS Music Association 

Rosanne Malek’s passion for music began in her youth after she took piano lessons when she was 7 years old. Now, she shares that passion with students in Iowa through her position as the fine arts coordinator for the Iowa Department of Education. Through her leadership, music is now recognized as a core academic subject in Iowa schools, which has afforded arts education a firm place in the state’s curriculum during budget crunches.

One of Malek’s biggest accomplishments is the development of the “Model of Excellence” mentoring program for first-year arts educators. This nationally recognized program has helped hundreds of novice educators during the past eight years and is being considered by the Department of Education as a model for other academic areas. Malek developed and secured funding for the program, which was developed in 2004.

Prior to joining the staff at the Iowa Department of Education, Malek held positions with several districts and schools in Wyoming, Maryland and Colorado. Her positions varied from teaching middle school and high school choirs to serving as principal of Corpus Christi Catholic School in Colorado Springs.

Malek’s personal accolades include being named Who’s Who Among American Teachers in 1990 and participating in a Chinese bridge delegation in Beijing, China, in 2007. She has presented at various conferences since 1989 including the Iowa Talented and Gifted State Conference (2001-09) and the National Association for Gifted Children Conference (2004-09, 2011-12).

She served as the past president (2010-12), president (2008-10) and president-elect (2006-08) of the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted. Malek currently serves as an advisory board member of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, the Iowa Music Educators Association and the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association. She is also a member of the National Association for Music Education and the American Choral Directors Association.

Ken Pickering 

NFHS Speech, Debate and Theatre Association 

Ken Pickering retired from the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) in 2012 after an outstanding 48-year career in secondary education.

Almost half of Pickering’s career as an educator was spent with the SDHSAA. During his 22 years as assistant executive director of the state association, Pickering was responsible for administering the organization’s speech, drama, music, journalism and student council activities.

In addition to his day-to-day duties at the SDHSAA, Pickering was involved with many speech and debate organizations at the state and national levels. He was president (1968-71) and secretary-treasurer (1975-79) of the Speech Communication Association of South Dakota and was South Dakota’s voting delegate at the annual Debate Topic Selection Meeting.

Pickering also served as secretary-treasurer of the South Dakota Forensics Coaches Association (SDFCA) and was a member of the SDHSAA Speech Advisory Committee for 12 years. Nationally, Pickering served a term on the NFHS Speech Committee and was a frequent speaker at the NFHS Summer Meeting, NFHS Music Conference and NFHS Speech Directors Meeting.

Before joining the SDHSAA in 1989, Pickering taught social studies and English, coached speech and debate, and directed theatre activities for 26 years at Clear Lake (South Dakota) High School. His teams won the SDHSAA State Policy Debate Championship six times and finished second six other times. Thirteen of his students won individual event championships at the state tournament, while an additional 20 students placed second. Pickering’s Oral Interpretation teams won 26 consecutive district championships.

Pickering was the recipient of the SDHSAA Distinguished Service Award for 2011-12, and he was recognized by the South Dakota Music Educators Association in 2011 for his years of dedicated service to music. He has been honored by the SDFCA three times, including Coach of the Year in 1979-80, Distinguished Service Award in 1984 and induction into the SDFCA Hall of Fame in 1989.

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