1996 Jim Crowley Award Winner
St Joe ‘s “Head Bear,”
Ivan “Ike” Muhlenkamp
1996 Jim Crowley Award Winner
By Larry Sellers, Crowley Award Chair, Traverse City St. Francis
The Jim Crowley Award, the most pres- tigious award bestowed by the MHSFCA, is presented in memoriam of the former coach at Jackson Lumen Christi High School, a great coach and dedi- cated family man who was tragically killed at the height of his career in 1980 at age 45, just two months after winning his second state championship.
This year’s recipient, Ivan “Ike” Muhienkamp, is a 1958 graduate of Coidwater High School, where he won nine letters in football, basketball, and baseball, co-captained all three teams in his senior year and was named Athlete of the Year. He received a grant-in-aid to Bowling Green State University where he played basketball in his freshman and sophomore years and played semipro baseball during the summers. Ike graduated from BGSU in 1962 and obtained a job at Albion High School as a teacher, assistant varsity football coach and JV Basketball coach; he was the head coach from 1965-67, compiling a 22-3 record and winning the state title in 1967.
From 1968 to the present Coach Muhlenkamp has taught mathematics and physical education and has been the head football coach at St. Joseph High School. In his twenty-eight years at the helm of the Bears’ program, he has had seven undefeated seasons (including winning thirty-seven straight regular season games from 1985-89), eleven Big Eight championships, had six playoff teams, one state runners-up team (1988), been named a MHSFCA Regional Coach of the Year eight times, and State of Michigan Coach of the Year three times by the media. This past fall he became only the fifteenth coach in the history of Michigan high school football to achieve 200 wins (His record stands at 200-87-1). In addition, twenty of his athletes have gone on to play Division I football and one is currently in the NFL.
Ike Muhlenkamp was one of the founders of the MHSFCA, served as our President in 1977, coached in the first All Star Game, was elected to the MHSFCA Hall of Fame in 1982 and is a member of the Hall of Fame Committee, currently. His former players regard our 1996 Crowley recipient “as an extension of our own parents. He not only disciplined you, he cared about you. You knew he was fair all the time; whether he was yelling at you or patting you on the back, you knew you were getting what you deserved.”
Our recipient’s philosophy is to “first of all have fun, then be super prepared by trying to outwork people. Never let a stone go unturned.” Judging by his weekly schedule of preparing for opponents, Ike and his assistants (he has only had five in 28 years at St. Joseph) rarely do let a stone go unturned. Coach Muhlenkamp also believes, “you need strong discipline and loyalty to your program, school and community.”
Ike’s wife Susan, a teacher in the Benton Harbor school system, and children, Phil, Matt, Stacy and David can be most proud of the accomplishments of their husband/father as he truly exemplifies Jim Crowley as a person active in our organization, a dedicated family man, and committed not only to his family, team and school, but also to making his community a better place in which to live.
We take great pleasure in recognizing “Head Bear”, Coach Ivan “Ike” Muhlenkamp, as the 1996 Jim Crowley Memorial Award recipient.