Perry’s baseball team suffered a season-ending loss Friday in their 3A District Semifinal at North Polk. They may have also suffered an even greater loss, as 40-year head coach Mike Long said he “had not made up my mind” about whether to return to the dugout for a 41st season as Bluejay skipper.
One thing Long said he had decided upon was to step down as the head coach of the Jayette basketball team, ending a run nearly as long as his baseball tenure.
“I am done with basketball here,” Long said. “There are a whole variety of reasons, and I am not thrilled to step away, but the timing is right.”
As for a possible stint in the Bluejay dugout, “I would say at the moment I am 55-45 in favor of coming back and probably will,” Long said Sunday, although he reserved the right to change his mind.
“At the moment I am still the baseball coach, but I am done with the girls,” he said. “I would still like to coach at some level, and maybe I will find something somewhere else.”
Long has nieces and a grandson in the Ankeny area and has been a helper in their daycare.
“I want to still be coaching at some level, whatever or wherever that is,” he said. “Coaching is what I do, and I am not ready to give it all up and not be doing it at all. It is just the right time for a few changes.”
Few coaches have had the kind of success, especially in two sports — to say nothing of one sport being varsity girls and the other varsity boys — as Long.
He has 556 wins as Jayette hoops coach, having taken Perry to the six-player state tournament in 1988 and 1993 (the last featuring six-player ball) while leading the five-player Jayettes to the tournament in 2000 before winning the 3A championship in 2002.
Long is 711-408 (.635) as Bluejay skipper. He guided Perry teams to runner-up finishes in 1987, 1991 and 1998 and took the 1999, 2002 and 2004 squads to the state tournament as well.
“It is not a matter of it not being fun anymore, because it is,” Long said. “Things have changed over the years and I just feel now is the right time for me to maybe look at making a few changes.”