Berry named Vern L. Norris Award winner

Lyle Berry of Rockford is pictured with MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts (left) and former Exectuive Director Vern L. Norris (right), for whom the award is named.
Lyle Berry of Rockford is pictured with MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts (left) and former Exectuive Director Vern L. Norris (right), for whom the award is named.

Rockford’s Lyle Berry, an official for more than 50 years and a longtime contributor to multiple officials associations, has been selected to receive the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Vern L. Norris Award for 2012.

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 served as executive director of the MHSAA from 1978-86 and was well respected by officials on the state and national levels.

Berry continues to officiate both cross country and track and also has officiated basketball over more than five decades. He also has served both as president and rules chairperson for both the West Michigan Officials Association and the Association of Track Officials of Michigan.

Berry was honored at the Officials’ Awards & Alumni Banquet on May 5 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

“Lyle Berry has dedicated a lifetime to bringing a fair and objective voice to our competitions,” said MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts. “His dedication to that mission is obvious as he continues into his sixth decade of officiating. Lyle actively recruits new officials, and through additional duties with ATOM has worked to keep his colleagues current on rules changes. We are pleased to recognize Lyle Berry with the Vern L. Norris Award.”

Berry began both his education and officiating careers in 1960. Also a former teacher and coach, he worked for Tawas, Farwell, Wayland Union and Wyoming Godwin Heights schools before retiring in 1992. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Berry received ATOM’s Presidential Leadership Award in 2009 and its Bob Bloomer Award in 2009. He was the WMOA Basketball Official of the Year in 1988 and continued as a basketball officials evaluator for the OK Conference.

Berry is a graduate of Grand Rapids Central High School, Grand Rapids Community College and Central Michigan University (CMU). He earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at CMU. He also volunteered as the broadcast announcer for football and basketball games on the WKTV community access channel in the Grand Rapids area from 1992 to 2007.

High school game officials with 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50 years of service also were honored at the Officials’ Awards & Alumni Banquet. Eight officials with 50 or more years of service were honored, along with 23 officials with 45 years. A 40-year award was presented to 39 officials. In addition, 102 officials with 30 years, and 184 officials with 20 years of experience, were honored. With the induction of this year’s group of 356, the honor roll of officials who have aided young student-athletes grows to 8,648 since the inception of the banquet in 1980.

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