Prior to 1972, there were few opportunities for
females athletes to participate in interscholastic athletics. Young
girls, who showed interest in sports, usually honed their skills in
pick-up games involving brothers and friends. Mary Kay Knechtges had
the good fortune of having two older brothers in Dick and Don who
encouraged her and included her in such games; especially when an
additional player was needed to “make a team”. She proved to be
quite competitive and was seldom picked last.
At Midview High School, Mary Kay played basketball
which was played solely on an intramural basis and softball and
track and field, interscholastically. She excelled at all of them.
She led the Midview girl’s softball team to a conference
championship and won the softball throw at the County Track Meet.
She entered Bowling Green State University after
graduation from MHS and performed on the basketball court and in
softball, winning three letters in each sport. Mary Kay received a
degree in physical and health education from BG in 1967 and took a
position with L’Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Township,
Michigan as a Physical Education and English teacher that became a
thirty-six year career. In addition to her teaching duties, at
L’Anse Creuse, she coached the varsity cheerleaders, started the
girl’s basketball program and coached the varsity softball team. Her
basketball teams won 154 games and lost 23, winning 8 league, 4
district, 3 regional, 2 state semi-finals and 1 state championship.
In addition her JV teams won 89 and lost 47 games.
Her coaching accolades are numerous. Among the
most noteworthy are: in 1978, she was named “Michigan Coach of the
Year” by the Detroit Free Press; Basketball Coach of the Year in
1980 by the Michigan High School Coaches Association and to the
Macomb County Coaches Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2003, L’Anse Creuse
High School honored her by naming the basketball court “Coach K’s
Court”, and in 2005 she was elected to the Michigan Coaches Hall of
Fame. Mary Kay Knechteges was a pioneer for women’s athletics at
every level of her participation.
Mary Kay Knechtges lives in Clinton Township,
Michigan, and is the Athletic facilitator and assistant softball
coach at L’Anse Creuse High School.
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