One era ends, another remains in limbo

Veteran head coach Mike Long is stepping down from one position, and says he is uncertain whether he will return to the other.

Perry head coach Mike Long (right) instructs the Jayettes during a timeout in a game last season. Long confirmed Sunday he will not be on the sideline this season, ending nearly four decades as head coach with 556 career wins, a state title and three other tourney appearances.

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.”

Former players from throughout Perry head coach Mike Long’s (center of mound) 40-year career as Bluejay skipper gathered at Progressive Field June 28 to honor their old mentor, with a few of the Long grandchildren joining the photo as well. Long said Sunday it was likely, but certain, that he would return for a 41st season in the dugout.

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.

Very few coaches can boast a two-sport record comparable to Perry’s Mike Long, who has won 711 baseball and 556 girls basketball games.

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.”


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