Norris Winner Excels in Valuable Roles

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 19, 2017

The first thing Michael Gentry did after showing up for a freshman/junior varsity football doubleheader was pull out a new white hat, presenting it to a young official working as the referee for the first time – the first act of encouragement that eased the up-and-comer’s anxiety throughout the game.

Another former pupil wrote of how, no matter if a game was five minutes or 50 from his mentor’s house, Gentry always was there – and a list of observations and pointers would be under that young official’s windshield wipers when he arrived at his car to go home.

Gentry always has made it a priority to help young officials realize their potential, wrote another, often giving those eager to learn places on his crew.  

“To this day, I derive more pleasure from passing on what I know and helping people take advantage of the resources that are there for them nowadays,” Gentry said. “I had dinner with one of (the officials I mentored) … and he told me he still has the pen-and-paper evaluations I did and still reviews them to this day, and that just stuns me. I never realized the impact you can have on fledgling officials.”

That impact, along with his continued success as one of Michigan’s top high school officials in a variety of sports, has earned Gentry the MHSAA’s Vern L. Norris Award for 2017.  

The Norris Award is presented annually to a veteran official who has been active in a local officials association, has mentored other officials, and has been involved in officials’ education. It is named for Vern L. Norris, who served as executive director of the MHSAA from 1978-86 and was well-respected by officials on the state and national levels.

Gentry will be honored at the Officials’ Awards & Alumni Banquet on May 6 at Eagle Eye Golf Club in East Lansing. He is in his 38th year as an MHSAA-registered official, this school year for football, basketball and baseball, and has worked MHSAA Finals in four tournaments (boys and girls basketball separately) and 10 championship games total during his tenure serving Michigan’s high school athletes.

A member of the Metro Detroit Officials Association, Gentry has officiated MHSAA Finals in baseball (1992, 1999, 2003, 2010), football (1994, 2005, 2010, 2016), boys basketball (2008) and girls basketball (2013) and most recently the Division 4 Football Final on Nov. 25 between Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Detroit Country Day at Ford Field.

He’s also mentored or assisted in guiding a number of young officials from his community over the years and frequently served as a presenter and clinician at local and MHSAA clinics and officials meetings.

“Michael Gentry’s work encompasses all that is recognized by the Vern L. Norris Award,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “He’s at the top of his game on the field. But his contributions off the field recruiting and mentoring young officials are just as significant. Ask those who have had an opportunity to receive his guidance, and they’ll describe him as selfless, dedicated and truly invested in building up the next generation.”

Gentry initially hoped to stay in athletics as a coach after graduating from Harper Woods Notre Dame High School in 1971. He had played basketball as a freshman in high school and also as part of Detroit’s Catholic Youth Organization athletic program growing up, and he had coached CYO teams for nearly a decade when one of his players’ parents who also served as a local referee suggested Gentry give officiating a try.

He first registered as an MHSAA official for the 1978-79 school year and was mentored early on by Detroit’s Ted Wilson, the eventual first recipient of the Norris Award in 1992.

“He was very instrumental in getting me games, higher profile games, games when I started out at the junior high level, and really forging a path for me,” Gentry said. “As a matter of fact, the first Regional in basketball I worked was with Ted, and although I don’t know it for a fact, I’m pretty darn sure he was the reason I was on that game with him.”

Following Wilson’s lead, Gentry took an interest in not just officiating, but teaching others how to do so. His current football crew includes six officials he helped mentor, including three who are 25 or younger. 

A number of officials who have been mentored by Gentry and the Macomb association have gone on to work not just high-level high school games, but at the college level. One of them, Nick Meyer, now officiates in the National Basketball Association’s D-League.

Gentry, who also has officiated at the Division III college level, took classes at Macomb Community College and Wayne State University after high school before taking a fulltime job at General Motors. For the last 20 years he has worked for Carmela Specialty Foods in Clinton Township, currently as the chief operating officer of the wine division. 

While that role has come with more responsibility, his fulltime bosses have been supportive of his officiating avocation – and Gentry plans to keep on as long as he’s able.

“It’s a question I ask myself all the time – why do I love it – and basically, it’s like an addiction,” Gentry said. “When the season is over, I get near depression; I just wait for the next season to start. I don’t know what it is. Part of it is the job and doing it well as an individual, and getting together with other people as a unit and doing a good job. There’s satisfaction in that.

“As a football crew we joke, when we hear coaches say, ‘Here comes Gentry’s crew,’ we take that as a good sign. They realize they’re not getting away with anything.”

Gentry was inducted into the Detroit Catholic High School League Hall of Fame in 1996. He also is a dedicated contributor to his parish community at St. Isidore Church in Macomb.

Previous recipients of the Norris Award

1992 – Ted Wilson, East Detroit
1993 – Fred Briggs, Burton
1994 – Joe Brodie, Flat Rock
1995 – Jim Massar, Flint
1996 – Jim Lamoreaux, St. Ignace
1997 – Ken Myllyla, Escanaba
1998 – Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo
1999 – Richard Kalahar, Jackson
2000 – Barb Beckett, Traverse City; Karl Newingham, Bay City
2001 – Herb Lipschultz, Kalamazoo
2002 – Robert Scholie, Hancock
2003 – Ron Nagy, Hazel Park
2004 – Carl Van Heck, Grand Rapids
2005 – Bruce Moss, Alma
2006 – Jeanne Skinner, Grand Rapids
2007 – Terry Wakeley, Grayling
2008 – Will Lynch, Honor
2009 – James Danhoff, Richland
2010 – John Juday, Sr., Petoskey
2011 – Robert Williams, Redford
2012 – Lyle Berry, Rockford
2013 – Tom Minter, Okemos
2014 – Hugh R. Jewell, West Bloomfield
2015 – Sam Davis, Lansing
2016 – Linda Hoover, Marshall

High school game officials with 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50 years of service also will be honored at the Officials’ Awards & Alumni Banquet on May 6.

Seventeen officials with 50 or more years of service will be honored, along with 26 officials with 45 years. A 40-year award will be presented to 68 officials. In addition, 97 officials with 30 years and 190 officials with 20 years of experience will be honored. With the induction of this year’s group of 398, the honor roll of officials who have aided young student-athletes grows to 10,595 since the inception of the banquet in 1980.

Tickets for the banquet are available to the public and priced at $20. They will not be sold at the door. Tickets can be ordered by calling the MHSAA office at (517) 332-5046 or by sending the order form. Deadline to order is April 27.

MICHIGAN HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
20, 30, 40, 45 & 50-YEAR OFFICIALS

The officials on this list will receive their 20, 30, 40, 45 or 50-year service awards at the 38th annual Officials’ Awards & Alumni Banquet on May 6 at Eagle Eye Golf Club in East Lansing.

20 YEAR OFFICIALS

Adrian - Bill Collins
Adrian - Paul D. Noce
Albion - Mary Ann Egnatuk
Allen - Christopher L. Adams
Allendale - Arnulfo S. Perez
Alma - Jillane S. McDonald-Sandro
Alma - Jennifer L. Shearer
Ann Arbor - David M. Siegle
Auburn Hills - Michael J. Rossi

Battle Creek - Jonathan E. Dolbee
Battle Creek - Dustin M. Fox
Battle Creek - Michael J. Whalen
Belleville - Keith J. Kennedy
Blissfield - Neil L. Heiden
Britton - Rex A. Forsyth
Bronson - Michael G. Sellers
Brownstown Township - Anthony J. Jesue
Byron Center - Michael S. Sturm

Canton - Bryan C. Earl
Canton - Michael F. Guzowski
Charlotte - James E. Hoyt
Chassell - Vickie L. Lobeck
Clare - Christopher T. Gibson
Clarkston - Darwin Conley
Clinton - Dan J. Jurasek
Clinton Township - Vincent J. Garofalo
Clio - David L. Prevost
Comstock Park - Sam Weatherwax
Constantine - William H. Wright
Coopersville - Ben Hondorp

Davison - Steven K. Barbeau
Dearborn - Kevin R. Wilkinson
Dearborn Heights - Julie A. Ader
Detroit - Sean L. Murphy
DeWitt - Patrick M. McDonnell
Dexter - David R. Steptoe

East China - Wayne D. Biscorner
East Jordan - Phyllis A. Olszewski
Essexville - Roland W. Swartout

Farmington - Dennis K. Miller
Farmington Hills - Ken R. Holzheimer
Farmington Hills - Kevin N. Short
Fenton - James M. Anderson
Flint - Ricky E. McQueary
Flint - John L. Perrine
Fountain - Sean R. Sutcliffe
Fowlerville - Nick Douglass
Fremont - Jan L. Burch

Garden City - Gregory Kozub
Gaylord - John B. Carrick
Gladstone - Russell W. Hall
Gladstone - Gerald E. Kulbertis
Grand Blanc - Brian S. Kita
Grand Blanc - Albert L. Mason
Grand Ledge - Timothy D. Marsh
Grand Rapids - Michael Hillary
Grand Rapids - Marc E. Miedema
Grand Rapids - Marc Van Maldegen
Greenville - Greg L. King
Grosse Pointe Farms - John B. Rucinski
Gwinn - Kevin V. Thomma

Hanover - James D. Hose
Harper Woods - April A. Martin
Hillsdale - Daniel C. Laws
Holland - Timothy H. Howell
Holland - Michael R. Jaeger
Holland - Ronald A. Kamper
Holland - Stephen L. Todd
Holly - Anthony G. Engelberg
Holt - Michael A. Dunlap
Holt - Daniel Grady
Howell - John B. Gendron
Howell - Dan W. Jeffery Jr.
Howell - Kyle N. Richardson
Hudsonville - Kevin D. Bayko

Indian River - Gary L. Campbell
Ironwood - Daniel M. Finco

Jackson - Jeff L. McDaniels
Jackson - Jason C. Smith
Jackson - Randy R. Straub
Jonesville - Brian P. Stroble

Kalamazoo - Steven J. Bradstreet
Kalamazoo - Julie A. Cain-Derouin
Kalamazoo - Christopher G. Caldwell
Kalamazoo - Robert N. Cole Sr.
Kalamazoo - Mike E. Daugherty
Kalamazoo - Douglas G. Davidson
Kentwood - Dave C. Rost
Kentwood - Craig S. Workman
Kimball - Scott L. DesJardin
Kingsford - Greg J. Hendricks
Kingston - Tammy S. Brzezinski

Lansing - Terry R. Bernath
Lansing - William F. Burmeister
Lansing - Dawn M. Carson
Lansing - Nichole M. Fisher
Lapeer - James R. Farrand
LaSalle - Donald L. Jones
Livonia - Krista Hobbins
Livonia - Michael E. Sensoli
Lowell - Barry Hobrla
Ludington - James D. Bowen Jr.
Ludington - Les W. Johnson
Ludington - John E. Shay
Ludington - Paul R. Spaniola

Macomb - Douglas A. Crenshaw
Macomb - Joseph T. Latorre
Macomb - Richard T. Paperd
Macomb - Jeffrey J. Zielinski
Madison Heights - Joseph F. Young
Marinette - Al D. Mathy
Marlette - Susanne M. Burton
Marshall - Randy L. Blum
Mattawan - Paul P. Eggers
Mattawan - Chuck Rawsthorne
McBain - Paul Shaarda
Middleville - Jeffrey J. Kenyon
Midland - William A. Larson
Milan - Gary A. Blackford
Milford - John M. Cecil
Milford - Norman Kawaelde
Millington - Byron W. Drew
Monroe - Kenneth J. Bausman
Monroe - Michael G. Gaynier
Monroe - Christopher M. Haut
Monroe - Mark E. Leach
Morenci - Ryan W. Kast
Muskegon - Jeffery A. Dunn
Muskegon - Brad A. Swain
Muskegon - Michael S. Taylor
Muskegon - Leonard T. Vargas

Nashville - Steven L. Hopkins II
New Boston - David J. Sichterman
Novi - Donald A. Fralick

Oak Park - Jason F. Haluscsak
Owosso - Frank D. Tew Jr.

Paw Paw - Chad M. Szymczak
Pinckney - Michael L. Rose
Pittsford - John T. Hoeft
Plymouth - Paul E. Woodard
Port Huron - Jesus E. Castillo Jr.

Ravenna - Ken J. Punter
Reading - Eugene L. Miller
Redford - Michael R. Jackson
Redford - Michael Ross
Richland - John P. Nadzam
Richland - Anthony J. Vanlerberghe
Richmond - Gary R. Niebauer
Riverview - William M. Ellington
Riverview - Dominic Frontera
Rochester Hills - Robert T. Bobbitt
Rogers City - Cory A. Davis
Romulus - Donald L. Hamilton
Roscommon - Rodney C. Patterson
Roscommon - Stephen M. Reinke
Roseville - Michael J. Iwasko
Royal Oak - Michael M. Beaulieu
Saginaw - Robert (Terry) DeLand
Saginaw - Guy A. Marcoux
Scotts - Ruben D. Rosalin
Shelby Township - Beth M. Karle
Shelby Twp - Cary A. Stearnes
Shepherd - Gerald F. DeVall
Spring Arbor - Erika L. Raffin
St Louis - Kurt W. Ballien
Sterling Heights - Steven A. Matthews
Sterling Hts - Darron E. Bell
Sturgis - Darrell D. Peugeot
Sunfield - Bruce L. Elliott
Swartz Creek - Scott M. Lovely

Taylor - Michael T. Sarandrea
Toledo - Gregory S. Shoffer
Traverse City - Billie D. Drake
Traverse City - Edward N. O'Brien
Traverse City - Alan J. Waisanen
Troy - Craig R. Smith

Unionville - Douglas E. Coon

Waterford - Laurence K. Campbell
Waterford - Matthew R. Tilley
Wauseon - Ken D. Baumgartner
Weidman - Timothy W. Todd
West Bloomfield - Gary Devine
West Bloomfield - Alain Moore
White Lake - Ryan T. Negoshian
Whitehall - Kurt J. Huizenga
Williamston - Daniel L. Grooms
Wixom - Michael P. Fischer
Wyoming - Frederick S. Adrian
Wyoming - Jeffrey M. Hudson

Zeeland - Derk D. Teusink

30 YEAR OFFICIALS  

Ada - Mike Terwilliger
Allegan - John M. Bishop
Ann Arbor - Jon M. Keith

Battle Creek - Malcomb K. Crawford
Bay City - Mark A. Bauer
Bay City - Rollin P. Fawcett
Big Rapids - Jeffrey S. Jennings
Boardman - Lynette S. Angood
Brownstown Township - Peter J. Bean
Buchanan - Randy L. Bicard
Burton - Darrick J. Puffer
Byron - Gregory A. Finch
Byron Center - Marvin J. Heasley

Casco Township - John E. Ward
Cedarville - LeRoy J. Pieri
Clark Lake - Mark G. Snyder
Clawson - Richard O. Szalma
Constantine - Dale W. Wentela

Dearborn - Mike E. Unger
Dearborn Heights - Phil L. Shannon

Eaton Rapids - William DeFrance
Escanaba - Gary D. Buckley

Farwell - Douglas J. Haggart
Flint - Joe H. Wheeler
Flushing - Steven J. Berriman
Flushing - Clarence E. Turner
Frankenmuth - Joe Ricard
Frankfort - Michael R. Fought
Frederic - Randall L. Holecheck

Gaylord - Ralph L. Galbraith
Gibraltar - Brian F. Herman
Grand Blanc - Brian J. Parr
Grand Rapids - Sharon K. Dekleine
Grandville - Geoffrey R. Goodyear
Grayling - Robert G. Gingerich
Grosse Pointe Woods - Tom C. Elsey

Holland - Michael D. Bos

Ida - Gary M. Miller
Ithaca - James J. Wideman

Jenison - Thomas A. Kragt

Kalamazoo - Loren L. Heun
Kalamazoo - Charles E. Kinnane

Lake Isabella - Kevin L. Fountain
Lake Leelanau - Glenn E. Huntley
Lake Orion - Lyle G. Sanderson
Lansing - Ronald R. Smoker
Livonia - Michael Wynn

Marquette - Barry C. James
Mason - Clinton M. Chadwell
Midland - Steve V. Weiger
Millington - Timothy P. Walter
Muskegon - Michael R. Cribbs
Muskegon - Matthew E. Preston

Nashville - Michael P. Meade Sr.
Negaunee - Glen Nelson
New Boston - William D. Spiecker
Newaygo - Raymond R. Bauer
Newberry - Rob J. Depew

Olivet - Douglas A. Thering
Owosso - Scott A. Schooley
Owosso - Robert K. Stinson

Pickford - Gregory M. Ledy
Pigeon - Catherine J. Dayak
Plymouth - Mike A. Kavulich
Portage - John J. Creek
Portage - Gregg D. Langley
Portage - John M. VanElk

Reading - Brian J. Hinkley
Romulus - Bill J. Miller
Roseville - Darin M. Gilbert Sr.
Royal Oak - Thomas Eschmann

Saginaw - Carl D. Miller
Saginaw - David A. O'Dell
Saginaw - Calvin L. Robinson
Sault Ste Marie - Billy R. Norton
Sawyer - Scott A. Ponegalek
Scottville - Benjamin E. Nelson
Shelby Township - James F. Plutschuck
Spring Arbor - Brad L. Buter
St Ignace - Gary L. McDonald
Standish - Rod L. Russell

Three Rivers - Kevin R. Tavernier
Traverse City - Roger D. Heeres
Traverse City - John T. Irwin
Traverse City - James D. Szur
Traverse City - Curtis A. Wolf

Vicksburg - Warner C. Offord Jr.

Warren - Kenneth J. Kaschalk
Waterford - Gillie A. David
Wayland - Richard T. May
West Bloomfield - Sheldon G. Larky
West Bloomfield - Lamont Simpson
Westland - Terrence E. Madigan
Wyoming - Gary A. Kuipers
Wyoming - Thomas J. Oosterbaan
Wyoming - Alan D. Woodcox

Zeeland - Carey M. Strykowski

40 YEAR OFFICIALS

Adrian - Don C. Fry
Alma - Bruce M. Moss
Almont - Thomas H. Abraham

Battle Creek - Joseph L. Kurti
Belding - Robert A. Youngs
Benton Harbor - Eleanor V. Dorow
Bristol - David J. Blough
Brooklyn - Thomas W. Crampton
Brown City - Richard Lee
Burton - Rosalie A. Howell
Burton - Steven A. Johnson

Clinton Township - Stephen D. Stuckey
Clio - Dale E. Sneller

Davison - Douglas C. Dillon
Davison - Randy Hutton
Detroit - Patricia E. Jones
Detroit - Bertha M. Smiley
DeWitt - John C. Hoekje

Farmington Hills - John D. Scott
Fenton - Richard D. Massa
Frankenmuth - Dennis Krafft

Galesburg - Wayne C. Patterson
Gladstone - David P. Gagnon
Gowen - Lennda J. Brown
Grand Haven - David B. Parsons
Grand Rapids - Tommy Chambers

Hazel Park - Ronald R. Nagy
Highland - Deborah S. Heck

Imlay City - Jeff M. Weingartz
Ionia - Paul D. Carmichael
Iron Mountain - John J. Sacchetti
Iron Mountain - Doug A. Schupp
Ironwood - Jeff D. Haapoja

Jackson - Douglas J. VanArsdalen

Kalamazoo - Kirk G. Hart
Kalamazoo - Christine M. Juszczyk

Lambertville - Thomas C. Williams
Lansing - George D. Runciman
Lansing - Bryan L. Smith

Macomb - Dennis M. Steele
Mancelona - Robert W. Sanders
Manistee - Tom L. Guenthardt
Muskegon - Jeffery A. Burr

Negaunee - Philip M. DeGabriele
New Buffalo - Jack P. Kennedy
Northville - John M. Fundukian
Norton Shores - Richard L. Anderegg
Norton Shores - Jim Tate

Petersburg - Richard A. Ley
Plymouth - Thomas J. Poma
Port Huron - Ray S. Cornwell
Posen - Frank Wozniak

Rapid River - Jeffrey A. Schram

Saginaw - Charles S. Sherman
Saginaw - Suzanne R. Swanton
Saginaw - William Turner
Sebewaing - Paul K. Geiger
Shelby Township - Michael L. Hessen
St Clair - Garth E. Jones
St Clair Shores - Roy W. Vorhees
St Louis - Michael R. Allen
Sturgis - David R. Cherry

Trenton - Max Monas
Troy - Joseph E. Thilman
Troy - Dennis W. Wedell

Warren - Kenneth C. Baker
Warren - Larry R. Leeper
Williamston - Michael A. Nestell

45 YEAR OFFICIALS

Battle Creek - Charles M. Hobbs
Blissfield - Darrell W. Polter
Bloomingdale - Clyde Line
Brighton - Bruce D. Ritter

Colon - Lloyd D. Teller

Davison - Patrick J. McKenna

Farmington - Raymond A. Cranston
Fremont - Ronald E. Mousel

Grand Rapids - Michael J. Cronkright
Grand Rapids - Tom J. Essenburg
Grand Rapids - Bryan P. Lillis

Howell - James L. Downs

Iron Mountain - Kenneth E. Marchetti
Ithaca - John P. Raducha

Lansing - Daniel J. Jimenez

Plymouth - Brian F. Foust

Saginaw - John B. Musulin
Spring Lake - William J. Fritsma
Spruce - Leslie L. Miller
St Clair Shores - George Mihalic Jr.
St Joseph - Frederick A. Fenrick

Taylor - Alphonse P. Ruffner
Tekonsha - Brian C. Briegel

Warren - Thomas J. Lieckfelt
Westland - James J. McPartlin |
Wyoming - Robert L. Stewart

50 YEAR OFFICIALS

Adrian - James I. Kerekes
Alto - Paul L. VanOveren

Battle Creek - James P. Hayes

Caledonia - James P. Uyl

Florence - Dennis R. DeMerse

Grand Blanc - James Lott
Grand Rapids - Kenneth H. Terpstra

Haslett - Rodney H. Horton

Jenison - Frank P. Scalabrino

Middleton - Jim G. Niemiec

Negaunee - Roland K. Koski

Rochester Hills - Cecil R. Haggard
Rochester Hills - Walter E. Popyk
Rockford - Larry M. Taylor

Trenton - Arthur E. Wegienka

Ubly - Jerome J. Messing

West Bloomfield - Alan K. Kaczander

PHOTOS: (Top) Michael Gentry signals a change of possession while Detroit Country Day players cheer during this past season's Division 4 Final. (Middle) Gentry keeps an eye on the action as a side judge alongside back judge Nicole Randolph at Ford Field. 

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.)