Dreibelbis among 13 leaders nationally in HS Activity Programs to receive NFHS Citation Award

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 30, 2023)— Thirteen nationwide high school activity program leaders have been selected to receive National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Citations. The honorees include former NCHSAA Associate Commissioner Mark Dreibelbis, who retired in May 2022. 


The award is designed to honor individuals who have made contributions to the NFHS, state high school associations, athletic director and coaching professions, the officiating avocation, and fine arts/performing arts programs; the NFHS Citation is one of the most highly regarded achievements in high school athletics and performing arts. Citations for state high school associations, coaching, officiating, and performing arts will be presented on June 30 at the annual NFHS Summer Meeting in Seattle, Washington. 


Eight of the 13 award recipients represent NFHS-member state high school associations, while the other five represent NFHS professional organizations for officials, coaches, music leaders and speech/debate/theatre directors. The eight 2023 state association Citation recipients are Larry White, Section 1, retired executive director, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA); Darren Bilberry, Section 2, assistant commissioner, Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA); Ernie Yarbrough, Section 3, assistant executive director/coordinator of officials, Georgia High School Association (GHSA); Todd Tharp, Section 4, assistant director, Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA); Jennifer Schwartz, Section 5, associate director, Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA); Rhonda Blanford-Green, Section 6, retired commissioner, Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA); Roger Blake, Section 7, retired executive director, California Interscholastic Federation (CIF); and Andy Barnes, Section 8, assistant executive director, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.  


The 2023 Citation recipients representing the NFHS professional organizations are Harold “Pinky” Primrose, NFHS Coaches Association, retired coach/leader, high school baseball, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Mark Dreibelbis, NFHS Officials Association, retired associate commissioner, North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA); Jennifer Brooks, NFHS Music Association, director of music, David Douglas School District, Portland, Oregon; Jamelle Brown, NFHS Speech/Debate/Theatre/Academics Association (speech and debate), speech and debate coach, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Kansas City, Kansas; and Rebecca Meyer-Larson, NFHS Speech/Debate/Theatre/Academics Association (theatre), theatre director, Moorhead (Minnesota) High School. This is the first year that a separate Citation has been awarded to theatre educators.


Dreibelbis is receiving the Citation Award for the NFHS Officials Association. He retired last year after a distinguished and varied career in education at both the high school and collegiate levels. He began his career as an elementary school teacher in 1977. He eventually moved to the collegiate level for over 20 years before spending 17 years as Associate Commissioner at the NCHSAA. 


As NCHSAA associate commissioner, Dreibelbis was the rules clinician for football, basketball, wrestling, softball, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and baseball. He also was the NCHSAA supervisor of officials, director of Student Services, Leadership and Sportsmanship programs, and the National Certification Trainer for the NFHS Coach Education curriculum. Dreibelbis spearheaded efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion in his roles at the NCHSAA. Dreibelbis assigned the first female player for an NCHSAA boys’ basketball and football state championship game, and he assigned the first all-female crew for an NCHSAA basketball, soccer and volleyball state championship game, and mandated diversity representation in all state championship assignments. 


Nationally, Dreibelbis served on the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee and the NFHS Football Rules Committee. He also chaired the NFHS Football Equipment Committee. In 2014, Dreibelbis was named NFHS Coach Educator of the Year, an NFHS Certified Interscholastic Coach.


Before joining the NCHSAA, Dreibelbis spent 22 years at Appalachian State University in various roles, including the NCAA compliance officer for the school. Dreibelbis was also an accomplished basketball and baseball official. He has 30 years of experience as a basketball official and has officiated 14 NCAA postseason tournaments and six NCHSAA State Basketball Championships. Among his other awards, Dreibelbis received the NFHS State Association Citation in 2021, the NCHSAA Golden Whistle Award in 2018 and the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Directors Association in 2016.