The Official View: Night with the Crew

By Brent Rice
MHSAA Assistant Director

October 1, 2018

In this week’s edition we discuss the power of our words and delivering them proactively, examine a football rule regarding rushing the punter and take a look at an “It’s Your Call” at the volleyball net.

It’s Official!

The Words We Use: Officials face criticisms regularly for their rule enforcement, judgment decisions and even positioning. As we know, these criticisms will be tossed about whether you get plays and rulings correct or not, so there is very little we can control in this area. One area we can control the criticisms we receive is the way we speak to others.

I’ve heard people say, “I’ll give them respect when they earn it.” If that’s your line of thinking, maybe you should consider giving respect simply because it’s the right thing to do. The way you communicate as an official to coaches, players and administrators reflects on you professionally, and often is a determining factor on how these parties view you in carrying out the rest of your responsibilities. If they think you’re a bad person, they often don’t give you the benefit of the doubt in close-call situations.

There are a number of books written on the art of diffusing situations through the words you use. One that immediately comes to mind is “Verbal Judo” by George Thompson. It is rather succinct and definitely worth the read. It provides much more detail on the philosophy of word usage, but let me provide you with a couple of seemingly innocuous phrases that can draw the ire of a coach and should be avoided:

“Well, that’s the rule” – Rules citation is very important when providing explanations, but simply stating that the rule says so sounds flippant and is looked at as a cop-out. Instead, start with “By rule,” then use rulebook terminology to describe the situation and ruling.

“Calm down” – While this is much better than the cringe worthy “Shut up” or “Hush” we hear being used from time to time, it still can provoke a primal urge to respond and can actually have the opposite effect of what is intended. Instead, try getting the results you desire by having them talk it through. Try statements like “All right, I’m listening to you,” or “Okay, explain to me what you’re asking.” And when using a phrase like “calm down,” trying adding an “if” statement along with it. For instance, “I’ll explain to you what I have if you calm down.”

Rule of the Week

FOOTBALL Team R loads up the box with rushers to put pressure on K’s punt deep in its own zone. As K1 punts, R1, coming from the center of the line, just gets fingers on the ball and partially blocks it. R2, from the edge, then firmly contacts the kicker’s plant leg and sends him to the ground.

Ruling: This is not a foul (in itself). The rulebook does not provide that only the player who touches the kick is excused from contacting the kicker. This exception to the rule refers only to when “the defense touches the kick.” (9-4-5-b) Of course, this does not give carte blanche to defensive players to go out of their way to unnecessarily rough the kicker just because the ball is touched.

It’s Your Call

VOLLEYBALL The clip from this week picks up after an extended volley. As Team S plays the ball over the net for its third hit, a front row member of Team R makes a play on the ball. The questions is, are the two contacts by the front row R player legal? Why or why not?

Last Week’s IYC Ruling: The basic spot on the play is the end of the run. Using the all-but-one principle, this foul would be penalized from the spot of the foul (A’s 35). If the defense accepts the penalty, it would be A’s ball, 3rd-and-27 on A’s 20. If the defense declines, it would be 4th-and-8 on A’s 39. This is definitely an instance that you want to run the options by B’s coach before enforcing the penalty. (Click to see the video from last week.)

Official View

After a long, hard-fought Friday night contest between Rockford and Greenville, crew members (left to right) Dale Feutz, Brian Donovan, Sam Boland, and Luke Griemsman stop in at a local Rockford eatery to discuss the night’s game over a meal.

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.)