'Retired' Periard Still Finding Ways to Serve Suttons Bay

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

May 28, 2021

When Doug Periard retired in August, some thought he had done it all as a teacher, coach, mentor and athletic director for Suttons Bay Schools.

Retirement has proven many wrong.

He did intend to stay on as the baseball coach at least thru the 2022 season. He also thought he’d help out some with the bus driver shortage using the CDL (Commercial Drivers License) he’d recently obtained. Substitute teaching sounded good to him too. 

So he came back in October. He immediately took on an emergency assignment, coaching the school’s 8-player football team to a win over Manistee Catholic Central. He also drove the bus to the game.

“Doug is that kind of guy ... when there is a need to filled, Doug will fill it for you,” said Andy Melius, principal at Suttons Bay. “The community means a lot to him, and the school means a lot to him. He bleeds red and white.”

Also since returning, he’s served as a K-1 gym teacher, filled in at the school’s front desk and headed up the district’s COVID-19 testing as the Quarantine Officer.

On Tuesday, Periard will coach baseball after driving the bus transporting the Norsemen to Buckley to begin postseason play. It’s no different than what he’s been doing all spring.

However, some questioned if Periard could handle bus driving and coaching on the same day.

Doug Periard“It’s been interesting,” Periard said with a little laugh. “I was a champion at taking a nap (on the bus as coach).  

“I would be asleep before we got to the split in the road and wake up when we got there,” he continued. “So, there was some real skeptics out there wondering if I’d be able to both drive and coach when I got there.”

Periard has hopes of hitting the 400-win mark before giving up baseball. He’s compiled a 379-280-18 record since taking over the Norseman baseball program on a “temporary” basis in 1998. It was supposed to be only until another coach was found. He had coached the JV squad the year prior.

And, there’s something else about Periard very few people know. Someone who does is Christine Mikesell, Suttons Bay’s assistant athletic director. Mikesell’s five boys at one time or another played sports coached by Periard.

“Every kid is important to Doug,” noted Mikesell, who is stepping down in June. “He really has a big heart for those that are struggling, and he makes a pathway for a kid to achieve if they take it.

“He is one of those kind of guys you want on your side because he is a team player ... a real team player when it comes to the school and athletics and coaching.”

Mikesell has seen him help lots of high schoolers who end up graduating perhaps without knowing how much help Periard provided.  He often made sure kids had a white dress shirt so no one was left out on the school’s game day dress-up tradition. He’s also paid for lunches and arranged transportation for students coming from hard-life circumstances.

“I have seen him go well out of his way,” said Mikesell. “I know a lot of it is his own pocket.

“He has eyes, and he watches,” she continued. “He finds the one that is struggling, and he goes and brings them as part of the team.”

Periard became AD in 2008, a year he will never forget. It was marked by the stock market crash and he, along with his wife Anne, was dealing with his daughter Grace’s new diabetes diagnosis. The economic circumstances also threatened his continued employment as a teacher.

The job loss did not materialize. Grace is now in college. And, she was the 2020 recipient of the Suttons Bay High School Berserker Award presented to Norse athletes who have competed in three sports every year of high school.

The award was created several years back by Periard. Now he hopes his son Hugh, a junior pitcher and three-sport athlete, will follow his sister’s footsteps and be similarly recognized next spring.

“I stole the (Berserker) idea from my little brother who was the AD at Birch Run,” he admitted. “I am proud to have gotten the thing rolling. 

“I think playing three sports is vital to a small school and development of young people.”

Periard’s legacy also will include strong co-op developments, including the establishment of NorthBay, and keeping a great football tradition alive while the school struggled with declining enrollment. The co-ops are established for all sports with Northport and include Leelanau St. Mary’s in boys and girls track & field and soccer.

Doug PeriardPeriard guided the Norsemen’s move to 8-player football in 2017. The previous season, Suttons Bay had to forfeit the majority of its games because it did not have enough players to compete in 11-player.

Mikesell’s son Baylor was one of seniors who missed out as part of that 2016 team. Another son, Lucas, was a star player in the school’s run to back-to-back 8-player Division 2 runner-up finishes the last two seasons.

“My son lost his senior year because we were still 11-man, and we couldn’t field a team,” she said.  “Doug is a problem solver and comes up with solutions outside the box.

“He did tons of research on it to get us in a place (where) we could participate in football because he saw that the risk of losing football here at the school, what a damaging thing it would be.”

Periard is most proud, however, of the behavior of the student body during athletic contests. His game management included a “bristle” – a knowing look – passed on from his grandfather to his mother and ultimately to he and his brothers.

With his simple bristle he was able to instantly, and non-verbally, communicate to the students they’d better stop what they’re doing.

“They bought into my stern look when they were in any way at all not cheering for their team,” he said. “They knew they should be cheering for their teams and not being disparaging against their opponent, and only treating opponents with class.”

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Doug Periard enjoys a moment surrounded by enthusiastic Suttons Bay student fans during his tenure. (Middle) Periard, also the baseball coach, with son Hugh, daughter Grace and wife Anne a few years ago. (Below) Even in retirement, Periard remains a mainstay in Suttons Bay. (Top and middle photos courtesy of Doug Periard; bottom photo by Tom Spencer.)

Longtime Taylor AD, Game Official Ristovski Chose Athletics as Way to Give Back

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

February 20, 2024

There is a basketball court 5,000 miles from Sterling Heights with “MHL” painted on the center court.

Greater DetroitIt’s not the name of a local basketball league in the village where it is located – Siricino, Macedonia. Instead, it stands for Madison, Haleigh and Lola, the three daughters of longtime Michigan basketball coach, referee and athletic director Loren Ristovski.

“My dad loved going back (to Macedonia),” said Madison Ristovski. “He’s probably gone every summer since about 2017. His whole family still lives there. He loved going and visiting and seeing everyone.

“It was always a goal of his to give back to where he came from. He and Mom donated to the village to build a soccer field and basketball court with lights and everything. It was a pretty big deal. It’s something he wanted to do for them back home. We were very proud he did that.”

Loren Ristovski, athletic director for Taylor schools, died earlier this month while on leave to have surgery on his foot. It was a shock to his family, friends, and the Taylor community.

“It was a heavy blow,” said Matt Joseph, girls basketball coach at Utica Ford and a longtime friend of the Ristovski family. “It was like getting kicked in the gut. Basketball was his passion. Next to his family, basketball was definitely No. 1. He loved the game and all the intricacies of it. He loved seeing kids excel.”

Loren Ristovski heads an all-family officiating crew with Lola and his brother Dean Ristovski.Ristovski emigrated from Macedonia to Michigan when he was 9. He went to high school at Hamtramck St. Florian, where he excelled at basketball. He went to Wayne State University to get a degree in criminal justice and had plans to become a lawyer.

Before he could take the Law School Admission Test, however, basketball came calling.

“He started coaching at Henry Ford High School and Fuhrmann Middle School,” Madison said. “Once he realized how much he enjoyed coaching, he decided to go into education. He stayed the entire time. He never went to law school.”

Loren Ristovski became the head coach at Harper Woods but gave that up when his daughters were ready to start playing in high school.

“He gave up coaching varsity at Harper Woods so he could be at every one of my games,” Madison said.

He also coached them as youngsters, often teaming with Joseph to coach an AAU team.

“I met him when Madison was 5,” Joseph said. “He and I decided to put our daughters in the same parks and recreation team, and next thing you know we were coaching AAU.”

With Ristovski’s tutoring, Madison, Haleigh, and Lola all excelled at the game, each playing Division I college basketball after standout careers at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. In 2012, Liggett reached the Class C Final with all three starting. They combined for 55 of Liggett’s 57 points in the championship game, with Madison scoring 42 after earlier that week receiving the Miss Basketball Award.

Lola and Haleigh played at the University of Detroit Mercy, and Madison played at the University of Michigan. Today, Haleigh lives on the west side of the state and plays recreational basketball. Lola is a referee in the Catholic High School League as well as for the Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and also works area Division III college games.

Madison is a teacher and the varsity girls basketball coach at Sterling Heights Stevenson.

“He taught us the game when we were very, very young,” Madison said. “We grew up in the gym with him and watched him coach his team. He coached me my whole life. He was very instrumental – he taught us all those things you need to become an athlete, and more importantly the things you need to do to succeed in life.”

Her dad is the reason she became a coach.

The daughters’ initials “MHL” glow on the court the family funded in Macedonia.“Watching my dad coach and seeing the impact he had on his high school athletes and even the kids in our church community – it inspired me to want to coach as well and give back like he did,” she said. “I watched him with my teammates and the impact he had on them. I thought it would be so cool if I could do the same for others.”

Loren Ristovski left a legacy at Taylor, too. School officials recounted several stories of how he balanced athletic budgets with the needs of student-athletes. He would lead fundraising efforts, created the Bitty Ball program for youth basketball players and cheerleaders and helped students become certified officials – and then would hire them to officiate games.

“He didn’t say no,” said Taylor boys basketball coach Chris Simons. “We made it work. We didn’t go out and ask people for a bunch of money. We would just do it. We all pulled together and made it work. Loren did everything he could to make things as pretty and presentable as he could with the budget we had.”

Ristovski also put on summer camps at both Taylor and at the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse in Sterling Heights, where he lived. He commuted about an hour to Taylor every day.

“He loved Taylor,” Madison said. “He loved who he worked with and the students. He included us, too. My mom would run the ticket table or do the scoreboard clock. I don’t know how many times I sold tickets for volleyball tournaments with him. He loved his people and loved having us there with him.”

Loren Ristovski, who played professional basketball in Europe during the late 1980s, ran well over 20 marathons in his life, including the Boston Marathon. He was a registered MHSAA official for 16 years, and in the weeks before his passing he refereed a varsity game in Rochester with his daughter, Lola.

“He looked at basketball, I think, differently than other people do,” Madison said. “He saw it as a way to have relationships with other people, to help people achieve their goals and to find meaningful relationships with others. It was more than just a game to him.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Loren Ristovski, far left, and wife Svetlana support their lineup of Division I basketball-playing daughters – from left: Madison, Haleigh and Lola. (Middle) Loren Ristovski heads an all-family officiating crew with Lola and his brother Dean Ristovski. (Below) The daughters’ initials “MHL” glow on the court the family funded in Macedonia. (Photos courtesy of Madison Ristovski.)