Lamphere athletic director recognized for his work

By: Mark Vest, | Madison - Park News | Published March 30, 2017

Madison Heights Lamphere Athletic Director Russ McKenzie said he was taught at a young age by his father and his community to work hard.

And although he doesn’t expect any special recognition for his work, McKenzie recently received it, as he was named the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Region 10 Athletic Director of the Year.

“It’s always nice to be noticed, but I don’t work for awards or anything like that,” McKenzie said. “It did feel nice to be honored by (my) peers.”

McKenzie — who participated in wrestling, baseball and football in high school — graduated from Lamphere in 1982. Along with his role as athletic director, he is also the school’s wrestling coach.

McKenzie has also previously coached track, softball, baseball and football at his alma mater.

His ties to the school help make his role as Lamphere’s athletic director all the more significant.

“I tell people, ‘I love my job,’” McKenzie said. “I still can’t believe I’m back at Lamphere, the place where I grew up. I had so many people give me so much help towards my life. … I just can’t tell (you) how satisfying it is to be able to be back here to do the same for other kids.”

In a previous interview, Diane Sage, who coaches boys and girls swimming for the combined teams of Lamphere and Clawson, said McKenzie “has been very generous. And he really has done a great job with supporting me.”

Lamphere boys basketball coach Josh Thelen shared a similar sentiment.

“He’s been very supportive with (the) programs I’ve been involved in,” Thelen said.

McKenzie is in his 13th year as Lamphere’s athletic director. He discussed what he considers the most important part of his job.

“Not to forget that you’re a teacher, and we’re here to teach kids,” McKenzie said. “I think that’s the most important part of it.”

What McKenzie wants for Lamphere athletics going forward may have a familiar ring to those who are part of the Rams’ sports programs.

“Get better every day,” he said. “Same thing I ask our kids to do; same thing I want our athletics department to do.”