Being a high school athletics director wasn’t at the top of Derek Perry’s career to-do list — if on it at all.

He experienced a change of heart once the Indian Creek job became available.

A 1997 graduate of the school, Perry, the Braves’ boys basketball coach the past seven seasons and junior varsity coach from 2005-10, is enjoying his new role and the many challenges it presents.

“I don’t know if I ever really thought about being an athletic director,” said Perry, 38. “But I kind of put in for the process and went through the process and got to be where I’m at today.”

Perry, who played football, basketball and golf as a student-athlete at Indian Creek, is one of four Johnson County athletics directors working at their former high schools.

Others are Ken Sears at Whiteland (1978 graduate) Edinburgh’s David Walden (1979) and Franklin’s Bill Doty (1990).

Another Whiteland product, Butch Zike, served as Indian Creek’s interim athletic director after former AD Justin Ray departed last spring. Zike was and remains a mentor to Perry, stopping by the high school once a week to answer any questions Perry might have.

“Derek is going to do very well because he’s a very hard worker and is organized,” said Zike, the Franklin College softball coach. “He enjoys it because it’s home. He bleeds the red and the blue. Anytime you can give back to your community, it’s a positive.

“Derek is a people person, which is good because then you can base your decisions on honest feedback.”

Perry was a lay coach during his 12 years with the Braves boys basketball program. His full-time job was working at Perry & Sons Lawn Care and Snow Removal in Franklin – a business started by his father, Mike, in the mid-1990s.

His work life currently entails challenges of a different kind.

It might be balancing the Braves’ athletics budget, working the phones to line up officials for future home sporting events, being a sounding board for Braves’ coaches or simply maintaining a presence when Indian Creek hosts a game, match or meet.

As a student and later coach, Perry had given a total of 25 years to the school system prior to the 2017-18 school year.

He knows and embraces the Indian Creek culture.

“It’s just knowing the lay of the land. Knowing the people. Knowing the businesses to connect with in the community. It’s a huge help. It’s vital in a position like this,” said Perry, who loves 10 miles east of the school with his wife, Andrea, and their two young children.

“This has been a change, but it’s been a change I like. It seems like days go by so fast that some days you don’t have enough time to get things done. But I’m enjoying the process.”

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.