“Do you know what you are?” Tom Rashid yelled into the phone.
I thought maybe that was a rhetorical question, but obviously not.
“You are a cowardly cannon! “
Hmm, I thought that had to be just another of the many ways Tom connected with people.
Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director Mark Uyl was in the office early Saturday morning, but he was not sitting at his desk.
He was sitting at the desk of Tom Rashid, his associate director who died Friday after a 10-month battle with cancer. He was 66 years old.
“He said all the time that education and sport at the end of the day is about relationships,” Uyl said. “You looked at the way he communicated, connected with people, that’s the most special thing about Tom.”
Rashid had been the number 2 in the MHSAA for the past 18 years and for the previous 15 years he was the director of the Detroit Catholic League.
Saying he was dedicated to athletics in high school is like saying Tom Izzo loves basketball. It really became his life.
Even after being diagnosed with lung cancer last February, he rarely missed a day’s work.
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Perhaps the most defining aspect of his career is that he missed his first MHSAA Representative Council meeting in 33 years on Friday, the day he passed away.
His career in sports administration officially began in 1977 when he was appointed director of sports at Dearborn St. Alphonsus, his alma mater.
But it started before that, when he was still in college.
It all started when Mike Coletta was hired as the football coach and athletic director of St. Alphonsus.
“Mike didn’t want anything to do with the role of athletic director,” said Mike Fusco, a classmate of Rashid. “Tom coached seventh and eighth grade basketball and he did all the jobs of Coletta’s athletic director and he went from there.”
Rashid’s first love was basketball and he wanted to emulate Mike Guza, who coached at St. Alphonsus after coaching the Detroit All Saints in the 1968 Class C State Championship.
Guza made Rashid his ball collector, but it nearly ended when Rashid, sitting at the end of the bench, broke a towel after a bad call and received a technical foul.
“I thought Guza was going to kill me,” he has said repeatedly.
After graduating from Eastern Michigan in 1977, Rashid applied for the position of athletic director at St. Alphonsus, but instead received a post as a history teacher.
However, before school started, the sports director position suddenly became available and he applied and was on his way.
He left St. Alphonsus after seven years and was DA in Riverview Richard for three and a half years.
Around this time we became close, often trying to solve the problems of the world as well as those of the Catholic League, which sometimes infuriated the league manager, Walk Bazylewicz.
“I’m sick of these Rashid-McCabe plans,” Bazylewicz growled.
In February 1988, he joined the Detroit Catholic League as an assistant to Bazylewicz, who retired in June of the same year.
Rashid hired Farmington Hills Mercy athletic director Ellen Sekerak, with whom he worked in St. Alphonsus, to become the first and only woman to serve as deputy director.
“I witnessed firsthand, there was a lot of controversy out there with the eligibility, but he always said, ‘The child, the child, the child,'” she said. declared. “It was his thing, helping children and all Catholic education was so important to him.
“He kept the ‘Catholic’ in the Catholic League and didn’t want it to become a public school league, instituting the Lord’s Prayer before every game. It was the Catholic League and he was great for it.
At the Catholic League, Rashid did the unimaginable. He replaced a legend and became a legendary figure in his own right.
“He built on what Bazy had started,” said Vic Michaels, who took over from Rashid with the Catholic League. “Bazy was on the same stuff as Tom – on the rep council, the non-public school rep and Tom just took it all and really worked with it.”
Rashid also did the impossible as a member of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, becoming president of the organization.
“It’s not easy for a guy from a non-public school to be president of this group,” Michaels said. “But he had the respect of so many people. He made so many friends.
When Sekerak left the Catholic League, Rashid asked Michaels to become his assistant. Michaels coldly rejected it. He didn’t want to give up training and teaching and be a sports director.
But Rashid rarely took no for an answer.
“I came home and he was sitting at the table with my wife, Linda, and he convinced her to let me work there,” Michaels said. “It was the best shot I have ever done. He was very influential in my life as a mentor, friend. A lot of people will miss him.
Until his retirement last June, Nate Hampton worked alongside Rashid on a daily basis and grew up admiring so much about him.
“One thing about him, you never had to guess what Tom was thinking,” Hampton said with a laugh. “But his kindness … there is so much going on.” In my mind, there was no one nicer, there was no one of stronger faith, there was no one who gave more.
“He gave of himself in service and his ability to communicate and deal with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. “
Rashid was certainly a man of faith and he lived it. He has attended daily mass for decades.
“More than anything, it was his faith,” Michaels said. “He was the friend of so many people – a friend and a mentor to so many people in this condition. Originally it was just in the Catholic League that he was a mentor, then when he accepted the MHSAA job he did the same with so many athletic directors across the state.
Uyl was still a sporting director when he first saw Rashid in action.
“He hosted the state athletic directors conference banquet in 2001 and it was the most impressive thing I have ever seen,” he said. “I spent the next three years knowing who he was, but never having met him. “
When Uyl joined the MHSAA in 2004, Rashid was his direct boss. But he has become much more than that.
“Then we became good friends, then we became best friends, then all this weird stuff at the end of it and all of a sudden I’m his boss,” he said. “The evolution of our relationship over the past 20 years is something I will always cherish.”
He became a sounding board for so many things that were not related to work. Uyl understood that Rashid would tell him what he needed to hear more than what he wanted to hear.
One of Rashid’s most important jobs with the MHSAA was around eligibility issues. Uyl said that was what Rashid did best.
“He was a man where the rules were the rules and the rules were applied fairly,” he said. “No matter what situation or what school or what part of the state, Tom is someone with a level playing field concept that Tom has tried to live with every day.”
Rashid had a cabin in Belle River, Ontario, and he has said on several occasions that he enjoys coming home from mass, buying the newspaper, reading the Free Pres and drinking coffee on the back deck.
“I’m so sorry COVID came,” said Hampton, “and he couldn’t make it to Canada to his most beloved place on earth, which was his cabin.”
As Uyl witnessed, Rashid was a fabulous public speaker and at my kind of retirement roast (sorry, no refund), I thought I’d give myself a generous compliment.
“One thing people say about Mick McCabe is that he’s fair,” he said. “He’s not particularly good and he’s not horrible, he’s fair.”
I will miss our dear relationship.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.
Mick McCabe (er, Son of Swami) is a longtime former columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ mickmccabe1. Save $ 10 on his new book, “Mick McCabe’s Golden Yearbook: 50 Great Years of Michigan’s Best High School Players, Teams & Memories,” by ordering now at McCabe.PictorialBook.com.