All good things must come to an end.
Perry Activities Director Tom Lipovac will be making the rounds at the Perry Athletic Complex Monday for the last time in an official capacity when the Bluejays and Jayettes host Carlisle for Raccoon River Conference contests.
In an odd twist, Carlisle baseball head coach Blake Heitmeier is Lipovac’s son-in-law, adding a familial flavor to the final game in a long career.
Lipovac has been at Perry High School for 43 years, originally serving in the classroom and as athletic director before being named activities director some years ago.
He recently quipped that “I am retiring, not dying” in response to the steady stream of well wishes he has been receiving. Future plans include increased time with his wife and grandchildren.
Lipovac was the first official contact I had with anyone at Perry High School. My first day at the Perry Chief was Feb. 4, 2005, a Friday. That evening I drove to Saydel to cover a girls/boys basketball set.
Then-editor Howard Balaban introduced me to Shawn Kenney and Tom Lipovac before the girls game, and the rest has been, well, chronicled both on paper and the internet.
It was quite the introduction to Perry sports. Two Saydel coaches and three of their fans were ejected from the boys game (Perry won both contests), and Kristel Kautzky (then Kenney’s sister-in-law) splashed 5-of-6 3-pointers in the girls game, earning the moniker by which I still refer to her.
I came to Perry from the Times-Republican in Marshalltown, where I began covering prep sports with the class of 1992, making the current class the 29th I have seen flip tassels. At the T-R, we covered the local community college and as many as 10 high schools.
Over the years, I have had professional dealings with dozens of ADs, both at the schools I have covered and at their opponents’ schools. As with any group of people, there will always be favorites and others with whom interacting is not as congenial.
Lipovac certainly fills the former slot in my notebook. Since my first day at the local paper, I have never wanted for information of any kind. He was always more than ready to fulfill any request for information, history, statistics, directions to a venue, parking advice, credential assistance and the like. That is not always the case, but with Lipovac it has been.
I could go on at length, but Tom would not want me to. Scott Pierce will do a fine job in Lipovac’s place. As with all legends, there is no real replacing them — you just hope to continue on with what has been set in place. I am confident Pierce will fit the bill nicely.
It will be odd not hitting Tom’s number on speed dial or firing off texts or emails. I will miss seeing him at events but wish him all the best in his well-deserved time away.
For 43 years, Perry High School and the community have been blessed to have had at the helm the living example of the motto, “Once a Bluejay, always a Bluejay.”
Enjoy your retirement, Tom!