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Montague’s Jay Mulder selected Athletic Director of the Year for Region III

Mulder has a rich sports background both as an athlete and an administrator.

Montague athletic director Jay Mulder is pictured at CatchMark Technologies on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Brent Raeth | CatchMark)

MONTAGUE — Jay Mulder is accustomed to doing things for other people and dedicating many nights and weekends in efforts to manage athletic events for Montague Area Public Schools and run the district’s athletic department.

He’s witnessed hundreds of games and events as Montague’s athletic director, but now everybody is looking at him.

That’s because Mulder has been selected Athletic Director of the Year for Region III by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). The prestigious accolade is a testament to Mulder’s commitment, leadership, and contribution to high school athletics in Michigan.

A graduate of Hudsonville High School, Class of 1990, Mulder’s athletic journey began as a multi-sport athlete, participating in football, wrestling, and track and field throughout his high school years. Playing three sports during his senior year and being a member of his high school athletic hall of fame laid the foundation for his future in athletics.

Great mentors

Mulder credits much of his development to influential figures during his early years, particularly his wrestling coach, Mr. Jack Glass, and his track coach, Mr. Dave Bolhuis, at Hudsonville High School. Their mentorship helped shape him not only as a player and coach but also as the athletic director he is today.

Beyond his high school years, Mulder’s path to becoming an athletic director was significantly influenced by Ken Diamond, a retired athletic director and coach at Montague.

Working alongside Diamond since the early 2000s, initially on the football staff and later as head wrestling coach, Mulder honed his skills and understanding of athletic administration. His tenure as NBC AD at Montague, starting in 2009, and subsequent promotion to district AD, were marked by a collaborative effort with Diamond to elevate Montague athletics.

The West Michigan Conference has also played a pivotal role in Mulder’s career, offering a network of support and collaboration that has been invaluable. Furthermore, coaching mentors like Dean Kreps from Hope College and a broad network of coaches have provided guidance and support throughout his career.

The power of family

Family has been a cornerstone of Mulder’s success, with unwavering support from his wife and family enabling him to balance his professional responsibilities with personal fulfillment, especially in watching his children compete in Montague’s athletic contests.

Winning, growth, and humility

Mulder’s career highlights encompass more than individual achievements: They include MHSAA state champions under his leadership, the academic success of athletic teams, and the development of coaches and athletes. His focus has always been on fostering a positive environment where student-athletes can excel both in sports and in life.

His advice to aspiring athletic directors emphasizes the importance of a strong support system, the willingness to learn from mistakes, and the necessity of having fun in school sports. Mulder’s approach to leadership is grounded in collaboration, growth, and enjoyment of the athletic experience.

Humbled by the recognition, Mulder sees the award as a shared achievement, reflecting the collective efforts of Montague’s athletic department, coaches, and student-athletes. In his view, the success and hard work of the athletes are the true highlights, embodying the spirit of high school athletics.

Jay Mulder’s acknowledgment by the MIAAA as the Athletic Director of the Year is not just a personal accolade but a celebration of Montague Area Public Schools’ commitment to excellence in athletics, showcasing the profound impact of leadership, mentorship, and community in shaping the next generation of athletes.

Brent is the Managing Partner of CatchMark and has been a technologist for more than 15 years. During that time he has served in diverse leadership roles. At his core, Brent is a problem solver who chose technology because of the diverse and challenging problems it provides. He is currently a Certified Information Systems Security Professional with an emphasis in Cyber Security.

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