Thomas M. Rashid, who served as associate director for two executives during 18 years with the Michigan High School Athletic Association, died Friday, Dec. 3, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 66.
Rashid became lead assistant to retired Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts in 2003, and continued serving in that position after Roberts’ retirement and the selection of Mark Uyl as the next MHSAA leader in 2018.
Rashid was best-known by the athletic directors who have served the MHSAA’s 750 high schools, as Rashid often was their first call with questions regarding the MHSAA Handbook or eligibility issues. Rashid also led the annual UPDATE meetings tour, during which he would provide training and answers on the latest rules changes at stops all over the state. He coordinated and presented orientations each fall for newly-hired athletic directors and also presented annual sessions to administrative assistants.
He served as the MHSAA’s administrator of boys lacrosse for its entirety as an MHSAA-sponsored sport, beginning in 2005, and also oversaw the MHSAA’s Charles E. Forsythe, Allen W. Bush and Vern L. Norris awards programs.
“We are heartbroken with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Tom,” Uyl said. “He had so many incredible gifts, the greatest being his ability to talk and communicate with people even when having to share difficult or bad news. He was so good with people, and his care and concern for others is one of Tom’s greatest legacies.
“So many of us are hurting because Tom was such a special man who made impacting people and school sports in our state his life’s work and passion. His example and legacy of helping others will live on within the MHSAA community for years.”
Prior to joining the MHSAA staff, Rashid served as director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and as Director of the Catholic High School League, for 15 years. In those positions, he coordinated athletic schedules and tournaments for the league’s 37 schools. He also served on the MHSAA’s legislative body – the Representative Council – from 1988 until his hire at the MHSAA, including as the Council’s Secretary-Treasurer.
Rashid graduated from St. Alphonsus High School in Dearborn in 1973. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in history from Eastern Michigan University, and his master’s degree in urban education from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
He became athletic director at St. Alphonsus in 1977, serving in that position for seven years before working in the same capacity at Riverview Gabriel Richard for slightly more than three years until joining the Catholic League staff as assistant director in December 1987. He assumed the Catholic League’s top post the following August.
Rashid sat on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association from 1988-2000 and served as its president in 1998.
He received national recognition in 1999 when he was presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s State Award of Merit. In 2001, Rashid was honored with the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award, which recognizes noteworthy behind-the-scenes support to interscholastic athletics. In 2003, Rashid received Athletic Director of the Year awards from the MIAAA and National High School Athletic Coaches Association, and he also received an NFHS Citation that year.
He was named to the Detroit Catholic High School League Hall of Fame in 2002 and Michigan High School Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017. He also received the MIAAA's Special Recognition Award in 2017 for his continued service to the school sports community.
There is a basketball court 5,000 miles from Sterling Heights with “MHL” painted on the center court.
It’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.”
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.
“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 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.)