Lincoln High School Statesman

Inventing and innovating: LHS alum Almir Krdzalic

Krdzalic%27s+product+will+launch+within+the+next+month+on+their+website%2C++www.tassloc.com.
Krdzalic's product will launch within the next month on their website,  www.tassloc.com.

Krdzalic's product will launch within the next month on their website, www.tassloc.com.

Krdzalic's product will launch within the next month on their website, www.tassloc.com.

Lauren Teller, Opinion Editor

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2009 was a simpler time. Many LHS students had yet to experience the realities of high school and adolescence. However, for LHS alum Almir Krdzalic, 2009 was just the beginning of something much larger.                                                                                                                                   

Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990, Krdzalic and his family fled the country in 1996 after war broke out. The family then came to Sioux Falls, where they began their new life, with all of the obstacles that come with adapting to a new place.

“Relocating and adjusting to a new country with the few people we came with was a major obstacle,” said Krdzalic. “Everything was new to us, and we were having to navigate these changes while facing language barriers with very little support. Knowing how much my parents had to sacrifice in order to give us a better life and brighter future has always given me the motivation to push myself to work my hardest and be successful.”

Eventually, that drive for excellence was brought to LHS, where he was a member of the basketball team. Krdzalic studied hard to maintain his GPA, but at times got in trouble for joking around and being somewhat of a self-described “class clown”. Basketball was a valuable motivational tool for Krdzalic, as it required him to maintain a certain GPA and attend classes, as well as a few excellent role models. Krdzalic and coach Scott Embry developed a close relationship, as coaching became about more than just basketball.

“He was real with me, and when I messed up, he let me have it,” said Krdzalic. “He never let me take the easy way out, and made me own up to my mistakes; it was always obvious that he cared about me and wanted the best for me.”

Embry played an instrumental role in teaching him lessons about perseverance and hard work, always making him feel welcomed and cared for. Coming from a humble background, he never dared to dream big, never even of going to college. His dream was to play basketball forever and school was second most days.

“I just did enough to maintain and allow myself to play the game I loved,” said Krdzalic. “Embry helped him realize that college was an option and made him believe he could do more beyond high school.”

For that reason, Krdzalic was inspired to pursue a higher education when he was offered a full ride scholarship to Mars Hill College in North Carolina, a Division II school. After playing basketball there for 1 year, he transferred to another Division II school, the University of Minnesota-Crookston. Krdzalic graduated in 2013, with a Bachelors of Science degree. After college, he traveled overseas to continue chasing his dream of playing professional basketball. He traveled to Germany, Sweden, Croatia, with his last stop back home to Bosnia. Eventually, he knew he had to make the tough decision to hang up his shoes and leave professional basketball.

However, Krdzalic decided to apply to the University of South Dakota for their Physician Assistant program and graduated from their program in 2017. Since then, he has been practicing at the Sioux Falls VA in Mental Health.

“I believe God has a calling for all of us,” said Krdzalic. “and at this time mine is to serve many of these veterans who have given me the pleasure of being in this great country.”

On the side, Krdzalic has since pursued his passion for inventing. His product, the TassLoc, aspires to preserve the success of graduates and their stories of overcoming and obstacles. Krdzalic and his business partner, Josh Pruett, have designed the product to clip onto a graduation cap in order to keep the tassel in place.

“We all have a story and no matter our background, we have all overcome obstacles,” said Krdzalic. “On graduation day, we are able to reflect not only on our hard work but also pay respect to all of the people who have helped us get to this point. The day should be perfect and so should your pictures.”

The idea, his “brainchild” came to him as he was graduating from the University of Minnesota-Crookston. Being the first person in his family to graduate from college, he was sure to reflect on everything his parents had done for him and the sacrifices they made. That day meant the world to him and his parents, and it was a moment that he wanted to remember and would do anything to preserve. Noticing that many of his classmates had faced the same dilemma and wanted to preserve theirs as well.

Krdzalic and his partner are now ready to move forward with their business and are planning to make their product available to students within the next month.

“My mind has always been solution-oriented,” said Krdzalic. “When I noticed this problem, I instantly looked for a way to fix it. I thought there could be an easy solution by adding something to the hat to keep the tassel in place.”

Krdzalic credits his success to Embry, as well as his parents. The sacrifices that they made for him and their family are ultimately what taught him to work ethic, perseverance and compassion.

“My father worked his hardest to provide for his family,” said Krdzalic. “I had meals every day, clothes on my back and a bed to sleep in. For that, I am forever grateful. I am grateful for the life he gave me and that he taught me to be respectful, honest and honorable.”

Krdzalic's product will launch within the next month on their website, www.tassloc.com.

Author
Lauren Teller, Opinion Editor

Lauren Teller is a junior and second-year Statesman staff member. Aside from her time spent hanging out in the j-lab, Lauren is an active member of the...

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