Over his tenure as the Perry High School activities director, Tom Lipovac said he’s learned that it’s “a lifestyle, not merely an occupation.”
That’s the same mentality that Scott Pierce plans to bring to the position starting July 1 as he steps into the shoes Lipovac has filled for over four decades, shoes that Pierce said are “un-fillable.”
With six years of experience with the Bluejays and Jayettes, coaching four sports, attending hundreds of student events and spearheading a new weights program, he was selected as the right man to take the reins.
After applying for the position at the start of the new year, Pierce was one of 30 names considered. Going through multiple interviews with the school board and other school officials — Lipovac served an advisory role as well — Pierce was publicly announced as the successor during a special Perry School Board meeting on April 6.
“I think Scott is a Bluejay through and through. Great passion, great inspiration for kids,” Superintendent Clark Wicks said in a separate interview. “I think he’ll do a great job for us. He’s working very closely with Mr. Lipovac so the transition will go smoothly and (he can) pick up on all of those great things that Mr. Lipovac has done for over 40 years.”
Of that long tenure, six years have been shared with Pierce who stepped onto Perry’s staff as a certified strength and conditioning specialist. In 2019, he made the leap to start Perry’s official strength and conditioning program with a concerted effort to push the athletics department forward in new ways.
His experience also includes working with the football team, coaching soccer’s goalies, assisting cross country and jumping on with the track and field throwers this year. Combine that experience working with hundreds of students, along with bringing coaches together with a common goal, and Lipovac said Pierce demonstrates the values of the “Bluejay Way.” Pierce said he feels ready to make this step as he’s already living the lifestyle that made Lipovac the “epitome” of activities directors.
Beyond being hired for the role, competing against 10 other current Perry employees, Pierce also has the vote of confidence from his soon-to-be predecessor.
“I had a lot of support from important people, Tom being one of them,” Pierce said in a call with the Perry Chief. “He knew exactly the type of person that I was.”
Lipovac expanded on that thought and praised Pierce’s ability to build relationships with students and bring coaches together with a “One Team” philosophy, which Pierce added will remain his focal point.
While the term AD is tossed around for the role, that’s not to be mistaken as an athletic director like it is on the college level. It entails all school activities. And while the bulk of Pierce’s experience is with Bluejay and Jayette sports, he also has a vested interest in the school and its students as a whole.
“I actually went to the Band Olympics this year. A student actually asked me to go and I was very happy to,” Pierce said. “He’s a big part of our strength program and I looked at it as ‘Hey, you’re putting in all this time. That time you put in, I’m going to put in for you on a Saturday.’ And I actually look forward to that kind of stuff.”
Commenting further on the role, which includes being present for events and students, Pierce said he’s learned from Lipovac who Pierce noticed would be the only AD at events. Not even cross country meets 30 minutes away was too much hassle for him, a mindset Pierce said he will adopt beyond the many home events he already attends.
Pierce’s ambition stretches even further as he outlined a plan to coordinate with coaches and leaders at the younger grade levels to help set expectations before students step into high school. And he’ll be taking the model he’s developed in the weight room to reach that goal.
“One thing I’m really looking forward to is kind of a little change to the sport aspect,” Pierce said. “It’s going to take a lot of coordinating with coaches.
“Along with our ‘One Team’ concept in the weight room, is our youth program. I look at that as a whole for the district because right now, we are getting the youth football, basketball, volleyball. All of them are in there. We’re basically on the path. We just have to continue. And it’s going to be a process.”
Regarding immediate results, with schedules out for 2020-21 teams, Pierce said he knows there’s less in his control at the moment. So any concerns about looking for reclassification for teams moving forward, that will be a conversation for another day. Looking at the football team in particular, he said he believes this year will be a nice trial gauge of competition as the Bluejays have a number of 2A schools on the slate to continue the conversation.
“In my position, I’m okay with either (moving up or staying). It’s not going to change my view of how we work, how much time we put in the program we’ve been building,” Pierce said.
This is not a position he thought he’d ever be in at this stage in his life. He said while he’s looked up to Lipovac throughout the years, he didn’t see his mentorship as a means to climb the ladder this quickly. That was an endeavor left for his 40s, he thought. But over the years, supervising football and basketball games, engaging with fans and working the sidelines, he was stepping into those shoes before he knew it.
Come the start of July, he’ll be all in with that “One Team” motto leading the way.