Vicksburg AD Roy Honored Nationally for Service to School Sports

By Pam Shebest
Special for

February 15, 2022

VICKSBURG — Accepting an award on a national stage is an impressive feat for any athletic director.

Southwest CorridorBut it was even more special for Vicksburg AD Mike Roy, who shared that stage with his mentor and good buddy.

While Roy was presented a Distinguished Service Award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association in December, retired AD Mike Garvey was inducted into its Hall of Fame.

“This award from the NIAAA was exceptionally special to me because Mike got inducted the very same night into the NIAAA Hall of Fame,” Roy said.

“To be able to receive that award with someone who means so much to me and has guided me and been so influential in my career was the icing on the top, the cherry.”

Garvey said to be mentioned as Roy’s mentor “is an amazing compliment. When the Hall of Fame asked me to send some photos, I had to have him in one.”

The two men first connected 23 years ago when Garvey left Lawton High School for the AD’s job in Delton. Roy filled the Lawton position.

“Mike took me under his wing,” Roy said. “He introduced me to another great friend, Fred Smith.

“Just a couple guys who are awesome gentlemen who are recognized throughout the country.”

Garvey reflects that admiration.

“Mike Roy has been recognized in Michigan and it’s time the rest of the country knows how great he is.” Garvey said.

“It was wonderful to share the stage with him. He’s a high-energy person who attacks everything with vigor. He gets things done.”

Two years ago, Roy received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush for service, prompting a Roy-like comment.

“With my joking, sarcastic system, I said to myself, ‘I must be getting old because I’m starting to get these awards and being recognized for it,’” he said.

“But, really, upon hearing it, you just sit back and are really taken aback and humbled by it.”

Rooted in Paw Paw

Roy started his athletic career in Paw Paw with football, basketball, baseball and track in high school.

After turning down offers from Division III schools, Roy accepted a football scholarship to University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which was an eye-opener.

“I found out very quickly when I got to UNLV to play football that I was no longer the big fish in the pond,” he said. “I was a very small fish in a very big pond.

“Going to UNLV forced me to grow up. Sometimes when reality smacks you in the face, it kind of wakes you up.”

That experience helps him guide high school athletes today.

Mike Roy“Looking back now, there are some things I wish I had done on the academic side of it,” he said. “I wasn’t a great student; I wasn’t a terrible student. I wish I had done better.

“My career goal at that time, wishful as it was, was to be an NFL player.”

At UNLV, Roy earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health with an endorsement in driver’s education and a master’s in instructional and curricular studies.

Once back in Michigan, Roy coached golf and strength and conditioning at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, taught strength classes at Western Michigan University and was an assistant to Kalamazoo College men’s basketball coach Joe Hacklin.

Roy applied for a job at Vicksburg High School — which he did not get.

Instead, he was hired to replace Garvey at Lawton, also teaching strength and conditioning, and coaching varsity basketball.

Three years later, Roy became AD at Vicksburg, a job he has had for the last 20 years.

Accolades began piling up, including the certified master athletic administrator designation from the NIAAA in 2005, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association (MIAAA) Athletic Director of the Year in 2012, MIAAA president in 2019-20, NIAAA delegate at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) national conference for 10 years and being named a finalist for National Athletic Director of the Year from the National High School Coaches Association.

At the NHSCA ceremony, Roy said he noticed one of the other finalists.

“One of the guys, when I looked, I said ‘Oh my gosh. He’s been an AD for 45 years.’

“Here I’m sitting with not even half that under my belt, wondering if I’m going to get 45 years in.”

Ever humble, Roy makes a point several times of mentioning that any award he receives is a culmination of efforts from a great support staff.

“I tell people in my joking way, ‘It’s my ugly face that gets the award, but when people come to Vicksburg they meet my ticket-taker or see my game management is on point,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be able to get half this stuff if I didn’t have the athletic secretary (Rhonda VanderKamp) I have. She’s phenomenal.”

VanderKamp, who has worked with Roy all 20 years, said they work well together.

As for sharing in any awards, “I’m honored but truly he deserves those awards,” she said. “We just complement each other.

“I’m so honored when I attend some of the conferences and they go around the room and ask you how many years you’ve been an athletic secretary and how many ADs have you been through. I can say only just one. It’s awesome.”

Showing off a great home

Under Roy, Vicksburg has hosted more than 100 MHSAA postseason events, and he takes pride in the workers and facilities.

“I’ve always been big on the appearance of our facilities,” he said. “Unfortunately, the outside community doesn’t get to see our library. They don’t get to see our science labs and all the other wonderful things we have going on in the building.

“When they come to Vicksburg, they’re drawing their assumptions on how they’re treated when they walk through the gate, how do the facilities look, are the trash cans overflowing, are things broken.”

He said when the MHSAA asks or looks for people to step up and host tournaments, “We have always been willing to do that. I ask our people and they say yes, we want to bring people to Vicksburg and show off our facilities.”

Mike RoyRoy also implements ideas he hears at various conferences.

“I always try to network and find out who’s doing something better than I’m doing and borrow that,” he said. “The neat thing about athletic directors in our association is we’re willing to share everything.

“We’re different than coaches who have a secret play or a playbook and don’t want anybody to know those plays.”

He noted that not everyone is cut out to be an athletic director.

“Most think all I do is sit around and eat popcorn, a hot dog and watch contests and how cool that is,” he said, laughing.

He said they do not see the contact with officials and support staff, refilling of concession supplies, setting up transportation to away games, notifying parents of any changes or problems and working on game schedules for next year.

As for non-AD duties, Roy spends time with his two children: Harper, a 5-foot-8 seventh grader whom he coaches on a 12-and-under softball team; and Ryker, a fourth grader involved in football, basketball, wrestling and baseball.

Doing things the right way

Roy said former Gull Lake AD Mike Foster helped craft his philosophy that high school sports are more than just winning.

“To me, in high school educational athletics, we’re here to grow the whole child and just not teach him how to win,” he said.

“I’m hiring my coaches who are going to be the best role models for my kids. We do want to win, because it’s important, but it’s not the ultimate goal for me.”

Speaking of coaches, Roy noted that his mentor is now an employee.

“Funny thing,” he said. “Mike Garvey’s my golf coach here. I always try to surround myself with some talented individuals.”

Garvey said Roy is the only reason he agreed to coach the boys golf team, and he would not consider doing it for anyone else.

“With his coaches, they’re a family and he’s like the patriarch who shows a lot of love and respect,” Garvey said.


Mike GarveyGarvey was one of 10 inductees making up the 13th class of the NIAAA Hall of Fame honored in December. Garvey served as an athletic administrator for 24 years through 2018 with stops at Lawton, Delton Kellogg, Otsego and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep. He received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2015 and Charles E. Forsythe Award in 2020. He also was an assistant coach on two MHSAA Finals wrestling championship teams and as head coach led Lawton to the Class D title in 1990.

Garvey has been an active member of both the MIAAA and NIAAA and the Michigan Wrestling Coaches Association, and a member of the faculty for the NIAAA’s Leadership Training Institute while also serving as Michigan’s coordinator for the program. In retirement, he has continued to contribute to school sports in a variety of other ways as well including as a meet manager of the MHSAA’s Team Wrestling Finals at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.

Among additional accolades at the state and national levels, Garvey received the NIAAA’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award and the George Lovich State Award of Merit in 2009 from the MIAAA.

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy gives much credit to his secretary Rhonda VanderKamp, his assistant during the entirety of his two decades at the school. (Middle) Roy takes a minute to take a photo with Donald Duck during a conference in Orlando, Fla. (Below) Roy and his children Harper and Ryker await the presentation of his MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award. (Photos courtesy of Mike Roy.)

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

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

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.)