Perry’s longtime girls’ head basketball coach, Mike Long was recognized Thursday night, Dec. 21 for his 37 seasons with the Jayettes.
Long has been with the Jayettes since 1980. He was with the Jayettes when they transitioned from playing 6-on-6 to playing 5-on-5.
“When I first applied for the job 37 years ago,” Long said, “I told the superintendent, ‘if you hire me, I’m staying. I’m not just going to be here for one year.’”
During his 37 seasons, Jayette basketball teams have qualified for the State Tournament four times, including in 2002 when the Jayettes went undefeated and won the State Championship. The Jayettes have also earned conference titles under Long’s leadership in the Midwest Conference, the Little Hawkeye Conference, and the Raccoon River Conference.
“Overall Mike can be described as, he left a legacy of excellence for our program,” said athletic director Tom Lipovac. “Mike always had high expectations for students and holding students accountable, instilling that sense of competitiveness.”
Not only has he been a coach, Long was previously a middle school physical education teacher at Perry as well.
“Mike, for many years, was the middle school phys ed teacher, so on a daily basis he had the opportunity to impact students,” Lipovac said. “He played an important role in bringing out the best in our students. He’s had an impact on male and female athletes both and students coming up through the years.”
Long hasn’t stepped out of the basketball world. Currently, Long is the assistant coach for the Bluejay basketball team. This is his first year coaching boys basketball.
The Bluejays’ current head coach Denny McDonnell spoke of what it is like to work alongside Long.
“I think anytime that you have someone that has so much experience, being able to use them as a sounding board and to ask their opinion on things that they have done has been hugely successful,” McDonnell said.
Long also coaches Bluejay baseball, where he has been the head coach for 37 seasons.
“I would just say that Mike Long has been a pillar in the community and has done more for kids than just teaching x’s and o’s on a basketball court,” McDonell said. “His enjoyment for seeing kids succeed is one of his greatest strengths.”
During the recognition, Long was greeted by many of his former players and honored with a plaque to commemorate his career.
“It’s just been a lot of good memories with a lot of good kids,” Long said. “A lot of them come back and see me all of the time and usually I’m the first one they come down and see. A few of them text me and email me and it’s just a lot of good memories. Even on teams where we didn’t win a whole lot of games, it was still fun because you develop that friendship.”