INDIANAPOLIS — The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) will award NFHS Citations to eight high school athletic directors December 12 in Nashville, Tennessee, during luncheon festivities at the 53rd annual National Athletic Directors Conference sponsored jointly by the NFHS and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA).
NFHS Citations are presented annually to outstanding athletic directors in recognition of contributions to interscholastic athletics at the local, state and national levels. State associations nominate athletic directors for NFHS Citations, and the NFHS Board of Directors approves recipients.
The 2022 award recipients are Tom Dolan, CAA, retired associate director, Virginia High School League, Charlottesville, Virginia; Kevin Garner, CAA, retired assistant executive director, Missouri State High School Activities Association; Michael Hughes, CMAA, assistant principal/athletic director, Lakewood (Colorado) High School; Everett Kelepolo, CMAA, director of athletics, Nebo School District, Spanish Fork, Utah; Darryl Nance, CMAA, director of athletics, Greenville (South Carolina) County School District; Robert Palazzo, CMAA, athletic administrator, Classical High School, Providence, Rhode Island; Peggy Seegers-Braun, CMAA, athletic director, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Kris Welch, CMAA, assistant executive director, Oregon School Activities Association.
Following are biographical sketches on the 2022 NFHS citation recipients:
Tom Dolan, CAA
Tom Dolan, CAA, holds 44 years of experience in education, including 25 as an athletic administrator. He recently retired as associate director of the Virginia High School League (VHSL).
Dolan is a 25-year member of the NIAAA, and in addition to being a moderator and presenter at the 19 National Athletic Directors Conferences he has attended, he has held roles as Virginia representative to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly (four years) and Section 2 representative to the National Athletic Directors Conference Advisory Committee (four years).
For the NFHS, he has chaired both the NFHS Baseball Rules and NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rules Committees and was a part of the original NFHS National Coach of the Year Committee formed in 1999, while also serving as Section 2 representative to that committee from 2009 to 2013. He was the Virginia representative to Section 2 meetings from 2005 to 2007 and had oversight of the Virginia National Coach of the Year selection process from 1999 to 2003 and from 2008 to 2018.
At the state level, Dolan has been a member of the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA) Board of Directors since 1999, while also serving as president (2007-08), state conference audio/visual chair (24 years), policies and procedures chair (8 years), state leadership luncheon chair (3 years), awards vice chair (3 years), and professional development chair (two years). He has also handled the association’s matters related to membership benefits and presented at its state conference and new athletic directors workshop several times.
In addition to his associate director position at the VHSL, Dolan has been heavily involved in committee work, spending time on the Indoor Track Standards Committee, the Out of Season Practice Committee and the Swimming and Diving Advisory Committee, while also serving as golf rules interpreter from 2000 to 2020.
Locally, Dolan has been a member of the Eastern Virginia Athletic Directors Association (EVADA) since 1997 and served as president of the association from 2002 to 2004. Dolan, who served the VHSL for 15 years, was inducted into the Virginia High School Hall of Fame in 2020 and earlier this year, received the NFHS State Association citation for Section 2.
Kevin Garner, CAA
Kevin Garner retired last year after 33 years as a high school teacher, coach, activities director and state administrator with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA).
After graduating from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, in 1988, Garner began his secondary education career as a teacher and coach in the Richland R-IV School District in Missouri. In 1990, he moved to the Clark County R-1 District in Kahoka, Missouri, and coached basketball and track there for four years, followed by four years in Sullivan, Missouri and boys basketball and track coach.
In 1998, Garner was named activities director of the Rolla (Missouri) Public Schools, where he supervised more than 50 coaches and sponsors, helped in the planning of a new sports complex and was selected Athletic Director of the Year by the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) in 2004.
After seven years at Rolla, Garner was named assistant executive director of the MSHSAA in 2005. During his 16 years with the Missouri state association, Garner was the administrator for the sports of basketball and soccer, worked with student transfers and school compliance and was the state association’s liaison with high school athletic directors and the MIAAA.
During his time with the MSHSAA, Garner coordinated state tournaments for basketball and soccer and assisted with football, cross country, track and field, and tennis championships. He also coordinated the MIAAA/MSHSAA Summer AD Workshop, and for the past four years, he has been the leader in organizing and developing the Midwest Basketball Showcase for Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas as a part of the June Scholastic Events.
Among his awards, Garner received the MSHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2021, and nationally, he served a four-year term on the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Evangel, Garner earned a master’s degree from the U.S. Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama, and an education specialist degree from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri.
Michael Hughes, CMAA
Michael Hughes, CMAA, has nearly 25 years’ experience as an athletic administrator at various high schools in Colorado. But his influence has reached far beyond the school walls to the state and national levels.
Hughes is a leader in Jefferson County, Colorado, where he currently is the assistant principal/athletic director of Lakewood High School. Hughes is the current chair of the Jefferson County Track and Field and Football Committees, and previously chaired the county’s volleyball committee. In addition, he currently sits on the Jefferson County Professional Development Committee.
At the state level, Hughes has served on the Colorado Athletic Directors Association (CADA) Executive Committee since 2006 and currently serves at its secretary. In 2013-14, he completed a term as CADA President.
He also has extensive service to the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), including 15 years as a member of its Legislative Council. Hughes has served as the CHSAA State Track and Field Championship administrator since 2005, and had terms on the officials, football, golf and basketball committees.
Hughes has made the most of his 16 years as an NIAAA member. Since 2015, he has been a member of the NIAAA Publications Committee, and currently serves as vice-chair. As a part of that committee, Hughes edits the Media Minute column in IAA Magazine.
Hughes is on the National Teaching Faculty for LTC 723 of the Leadership Training Institute and previously served on the NIAAA Strategic Planning Committee on its Finance Subcommittee. Hughes has presented on five occasions at the National Athletic Directors Conference and been Colorado’s representative to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly eight times.
In 2010, Hughes earned the NIAAA State Award of Merit.
Everett Kelepolo, CMAA
Spanish Fork, Utah
Everett Kelepolo is in his second stint as director of athletics for the Nebo School District in Spanish Fork, Utah. He was Nebo athletic director from 2007 to 2015, followed by five years as principal of Springville (Utah) High School. He returned to the Nebo School District in 2020, where he serves five high schools and seven junior high schools.
Kelepolo, a native of Hawaii and raised in Arizona, began his career coaching football, wrestling, track and a host of other sports at Spanish Fork High School (1995-99) and Lehi High School during the first decade of his career.
Kelepolo was instrumental in creating the Nebo School District Captains Academy. The academy, which consists of captains and leaders from each of the Nebo School District’s 12 secondary schools, features speakers presenting ways in which schools can conduct leadership and sportsmanship traits. His other notable accomplishments include implementing a stipend payment for athletic administrators who earn CAA and CMAA certification from the NIAAA.
Kelepolo graduated from Southern Utah University in 1991 and earned his master’s from Brigham Young University in 2001. In 2011, he completed his doctoral dissertation through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on “The Relationship Between Participation in Extracurricular Activities and Utah’s Proficiency Assessments of Students in a Suburban School District.”
Kelepolo has presented his dissertation on multiple occasions to address the value of athletics in aiding academic performance. He has served on a city recreation board and currently serves on a hospital board to further the cause of health, fitness and participation for youth.
Kelepolo is president of the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (UIAAA) and has served on the UIAAA Board for two years. He serves on several UIAAA and Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) committees. He has been an LTI instructor at several UIAAA state conferences as well as a workshop moderator and presenter.
Nationally, Kelepolo, a 2017 NIAAA Distinguished Service Award recipient, served on the NIAAA Strategic Planning Committee (2014-2015) and is currently chair of the NIAAA Awards Committee after four years as vice-chair. He has completed 31 LTI courses and taught the NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching course for eight years.
Darryl Nance, CMAA
Greenville, South Carolina
For more than 30 years, Darryl Nance, CMAA, has influenced countless students in South Carolina as a teacher, coach and athletic director. Nance is currently in his eighth year as the director of athletics of the Greenville County School District.
Nance, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Furman University and his master’s from the United States Sports Academy, began his career as a teacher and coach at Rock Hill High School in 1988, where he stayed for three years.
Nance moved to Wade Hampton High School in 1996, where he remained as athletic director until 2015 when he joined Greenville County School District. As a basketball coach, Nance compiled a career record of 415-202 and led an undefeated Wade Hampton team to a state championship in 2011. In addition to basketball, Nance coached football, baseball, softball, volleyball and golf.
In his 30 years as an athletic administrator, Nance has served on the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association (SCAAA) Board of Directors since 1999 and was SCAAA president in 2006. He also served as SCAAA Leadership Training Institute (LTI) coordinator from 2004 to 2010 and has been the SCAAA State Certification Coordinator since 2011.
Nance served on the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) Executive Committee from 2012 to 2015 and was the SCHSL Competition Committee chair.
Nance’s involvement at the national level is just as extensive, where he served on the NIAAA Board of Directors from 2008 to 2011, including a year as NIAAA president in 2010. During his year as president, the NIAAA achieved national accreditation from AdvancEd/NCA/CASI.
Prior to his time on the NIAAA Board, Nance was a member of its Endowment Committee and later served on the NIAAA Professional Development Task Force in 2013-14. Nance is on the national faculty for LTI course 719 on Leadership and Decision-Making.
Nance has earned numerous recognitions during his career. He was named South Carolina’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2010 and has been named region athletic director of the year multiple times. Nance was the recipient of the NIAAA Frank Kovaleski Professional Development Award in 2017 and the NIAAA Award of Merit in 2019.
Robert Palazzo, CMAA
Providence, Rhode Island
Robert Palazzo, CMAA, is in his 26th year as an athletic administrator and has spent his entire tenure at Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island, where he currently serves as director of athletics and as a coach.
Palazzo has been a member of the NIAAA for the past 25 years. In that time, he has served as the National Athletic Directors Conference state delegate for Rhode Island nine times, as well as a facilitator and moderator. He has also been the state’s Leadership Training coordinator for more than 20 years and recently chaired the process of rewriting the LTC 621 Turf and Field course from scratch. In addition to receiving the NIAAA State Award of Merit for Rhode Island in 2005, Palazzo was honored with an NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 2019.
At the state level, Palazzo has been part of the Rhode Island Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (RIIAAA) Executive Board for 26 years, having also served as RIIAAA president, vice president and as both a member and chair of the Awards Committee and Coaches’ Association Committee. In 2003, he was named RIIAAA Athletic Director of the Year. As a proponent of the Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA) curriculum, Palazzo has mentored more than 20 athletic directors as they earned their own certifications over the past 20 years.
As Classical’s track and field head coach for the past 32 years, Palazzo has mentored five national champions, 32 all-Americans, 18 New England champions, numerous individual state champions, and one national record-holder. He is a five-time Rhode Island Track Coaches Association (RITCA) Coach of the Year and was named NFHS Coach of the Year in 2021. He is also a member of both the RITCA and Classical High School Halls of Fame.
Additionally, Palazzo annually coordinates two of the largest track and field championship meets on the East Coast – the Rhode Island Classic and the East Coast Invitational Indoor Track and Field Championship.
Peggy Seegers-Braun, CMAA
Peggy Seegers-Braun, CMAA, is in her 35th year as athletic director at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (DSHA) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has also been a multi-sport coach and physical education instructor. Divine Savior Holy Angels is the only athletic administration position Seegers-Braun has held in her illustrious career.
In addition to serving on the Awards Committee since 2017 – including the last two years as committee vice-chair – Seegers-Braun has occupied a variety of roles for the NIAAA during her 34 years of membership. She’s been an ad hoc Mentoring Committee member, a National Athletic Directors Conference workshop facilitator and moderator, and a seven-time state delegate for Wisconsin. These efforts were recognized by the NIAAA in 2020, when she received the organization’s Distinguished Service Award.
For the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association (WADA), Seegers-Braun has held a number of titles including president, president-elect, vice president, WADA Board District VII Representative, Gender Representative for District VII, and WADA liaison to the Officials Advisory Committee and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control. As a result of her exceptional service record, the WADA recognized Seegers-Braun with the District VII Athletic Director of the Year and State Athletic Director of the Year awards in 2017.
A longtime member of the WIAA Sports Advisory and Scholar-Athlete Committees, Seegers-Braun has also hosted numerous WIAA meetings and sporting events and received the WIAA Sportsmanship Award in 2020. Locally, the two-time University of Wisconsin-La Crosse graduate has been president of the Greater Metro Conference (GMC) four separate times since its formation in 1997-98, served on its Bylaw Committee and Appeal Committee, and been a liaison for several sports including boys and girls volleyball, girls tennis, and girls swimming and diving.
Some of Seegers-Braun’s accomplishments during her tenure at DSHA include expanding the athletic department from 14 to 41 teams and helping plan the construction of a $12.5 million athletic and classroom facility and new softball diamond.
Kris Welch, CMAA
In nearly 30 years of experience in athletics, Kris Welch, CMAA, has shown dedication to student-athletes, whether as a coach, official, athletic director, board member, mentor, educator or volunteer.
In his current position as assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) since 2016, Welch oversees the sports of football, wrestling and baseball, as well as solo music. He also is the association’s liaison to the Oregon Athletic Officials Association.
Welch spent his first seven years in education as a math teacher and assistant coach of football, basketball and baseball at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon. His first athletic director job then came at Roosevelt (Oregon) High School, where he also coached football, softball and baseball. In 2004, he became athletic director at Century High School in Hillsboro.
Some of his achievements at Century High School include starting the “True Jaguar” Award and a scholar-athlete recognition program. Welch also served as the athletic director representative for several conferences, including the Northwest Oregon Conference and Pacific Conference, and was the wrestling, baseball and football chair for the Metro League.
At the state level, Welch is a former executive director of the Oregon Athletic Directors Association (OADA) and was a member of its executive board for 10 years. Prior to joining the OSAA staff, Welch served on numerous OSAA committees, including the Officials’ Fees Committee and Budget Committee. He has also spent nine years as an instructor in the American Sport Education Program and has taught more than 50 classes.
Nationally, Welch has been a member of the NFHS/NIAAA Athletic Directors Conference Advisory Committee. In addition, Welch served a term on the NIAAA Accreditation Committee was Oregon’s representative to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly six times. He has also taken more than 40 NIAAA Leadership Training classes and earned the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 2014.
Welch was awarded the Spirit of Century Award in 2006, the Oregon ASA Umpire of the Year Award in 2010 and Distinguished Service Award in 2012. He was named 2014 Athletic Director of the Year in both the 6A classification and overall.