Just as quickly as the season began, it ends for me this coming week. It started on October 30th in a small junior high gym and will end much the same, 124 games later at St Joe’s middle school in Marion. A lot has happened, most notably for me was the reaching and exceeding of a goal. I set a goal of being the best official that I could be (sounds easy enough and cheesy at the same time, since I’m the sole judge).
As folks know, an individual can be their own harshest critic, as was the case with my officiating. Unless you know what to look for, how to use “proper NFSHSA mechanics”, primary coverage areas as well as the differences of common fouls, technical fouls, intentional fouls (and their penalties) and violations and so on and so forth…watching me work a game would look like me just running up and down a basketball court occasionally blowing my whistle (which I’m very good at). I wonder if coaches, players or fans ever know how much we officials dissect our own performances and yes…blown calls (yep…we have them…we’re human…and I had at least four that I can remember off the top of my head and wish that I had called differently or not at all.)
I tried to learn from my mistakes, so I wouldn’t make them again. We’re not much different from the players in some regard, as not every shot is made, not every play works and not every situation is perfectly executed. Fortunately I have a couplea guys who I can email and ask questions about certain situations that have happened to me…and for that, I’m thankful. One has even become a friend, Joel. So thanks, Joel, for all of the help and support this season, for letting me ask stupid questions and telling me the truth/right answer and videotaping a couple of my games (I still run like The Simpsons Ned Flanders).
A few things stand out this (soon to be) past season:
- I’ve worked with plenty of really good guys.
- A parent of one of the players came over after a game and told me that me and my partner did a “horseshit job.” He apologized a week later. Weird.
- Two weeks later at the same gym, same team, three different parents came up to me and my partner, Dan, and told us that we did a very good job. One guy even told me “I’ve seen you grow since you started, you’re doing good.” Dead serious, he said that. I don’t know who he was or why he felt the need to say that but it was nice to hear.
- My best game was a junior varsity game in the middle of my season. Rock music during warm ups. Two good teams playing ball. I had a solid game and a veteran official who had been somewhat critical of me in November (he worked my third game with me) told me that night that “working with me was like working with a seasoned veteran” which was real nice to hear. I also got a free hot dog that night (what can I say…the ladies running the Thomas Jefferson High School concession stand love a man in uniform…at least a hot dogs worth of love).
- And…league games for the little kids…while a pain to officiate can be a little fun too. Just a few seconds prior to handing the ball to a player who’s standing out of bounds I look at the defensive player guarding them while crowding the line I’ll point to the out of bounds line and say “You can’t reach across this line…if you do…I’ll have to cut off your arms…it’s in the rules.” The kid always smiles, it lightens the moment and it’s a game again.
And finally…I plan on setting a higher goal for next season…working mostly high school games, whether that includes some varsity level games or not remains to be seen. I’ve made plans to attend a couplea basketball officiating camps this summer, to hone my officiating skills (what there are of them), learn the varsity three-man game (it alludes me at this time) and make a few professional connections. My goal was to get to the next level in three to four years, but if things pan out…I could make it sooner than that, perhaps in a year or two. Until then…I’ll do my best, try to keep my mouth shut and learn what I should learn.
Baseball season is approaching and my rule books are waiting to be read and memorized…ugh.
For those avid readers of RICH RIPLEY who didn’t get a chance to see me officiate this season…here’s a link to one of my games, taken by Joel (I owe him a meal for this. You’d have thought that with that kind of reward he could have put in some kickass special effects like me having blazing speed, super jumping ability or cheerleaders doing their own special cheer for yours truly “HEY SEXY! HEY SEXY!! HEY SEXY REFEREE MAN WITH THE BALD SPOT SHAKIN’ IT SO SEXY! SO SEXY! SO SEXY!!” (I’m not so sure that they didn’t cheer that already…but it wouldn’t have killed Joel to record it or dub it into this video). Nonetheless, the link lies below.
(special thanks to my partner that night, Jerry Winter, for his tutelage and Joel Duffy for the video and his season-long mentoring, thanks Joel!) At the two minute mark I call a foul and DON’T RAISE MY ARM (which is what I’m suppossed to do when I call a foul, this is why it’s important for me to see this) and at the 2:25 mark I correctly call a foul…why the difference…I probably rushed the first time.
As always…have a great week and don’t forget to tip your barista!