Occasionally I’ll try new things; occasionally.  It seems that I don’t have much luck with trying new things, like the time that I tried replacing a toilet (with another toilet) but broke off the fresh water pipe inside the wall of the bathroom.  One frantic call later and a plumber was on his way (at two o’clock in the afternoon on a Saturday no less).  The next Saturday I tried replacing the little rubber washer inside of our kitchen faucet, the lady at the hardware store said that it was an easy thing to do.  Thirty minutes later, with water squirting out from said kitchen faucet and yet another frantic call to the same plumber who answered my call “Hello Mister Ripley…what are we working on today?”  God bless them…they only charged me $75 each time…so I learned a $150 lesson in eight days….I don’t plumb no matter what the lady at the hardware store says.  Don’t even get me started on the time that I tried to fix an electrical outlet cuz my hand is still tingling.  Or how about the time that I spent $60 to make shrimp tacos?  The house smelled like fish for a week and the recipe said that it’d feed “four”…I ate them all that night.  Or how about the time that I tried selling used cars for a living?  I could sell them, I just couldn’t make a living off of it.  It’s not that I screw up everything that I try…its just that I have a history of trying new things and not having a good deal of success in each and every one of said “new endeavors”.  With age comes some wisdom…so whenever I get a wild-hair to try something new I file it away for a few weeks to mull over the possible consequences, financial set-backs, injuries and electrical burns.  Its not a perfect system…but its what’s working for me now.

Avid readers of Rich Ripley, and most employees of RIPLEY INDUSTRIES, are well aware of my affection for officiating the sports of basketball and baseball.  Last fall, between seasons, I became bored since I had nothing to officiate.  Other officials told me “work volleyball games.  Easy money, easy to work.  EASY.”  I thought to myself “why not?”  They desperately need officials and I love to officiate…so why not?”  Indeed…why not?

I registered with the state.  Paid my dues.  Studied for and passed the exam (I scored 90%).  I attended a clinic, where the instructor was pacing around a volleyball court, telling us to watch for illegal “this” and illegal “that” and “you’d better not do it this way or you’ll never get to the state tournament.”  I looked nervously at the guy who assigns me volleyball games and whispered “This doesn’t make any sense to me!  Its like he’s speaking Latin!”  He smiled and said “Relax…you’ll be fine” which made my stomach hurt even more (I’m like Charlie Brown that way…when I’m worried my stomach hurts”.  I left that volleyball clinic very concerned as to my ability to properly officiate a volleyball match…it wasn’t a good feeling.

Since that day I’ve worked several freshman volleyball matches, and they’ve gone smoothly, but I’m not sure that I’ll stick with it next season.  Its hard enough to officiate a game when you’re competent and qualified, I feel neither for volleyball.  It doesn’t help that the game management is totally opposite of my beloved basketball.  In volleyball you have to keep track of the players and where they’re supposed to be at all times (they don’t stand still, they’re usually moving).  Some players can’t do certain things at certain times (I say “certain players” because I still don’t understand it).  The coaches that we’ve had have been outstanding and honest…calling their own players out for violations…which I appreciate but I should be catching that not them.

I worked two basketball games last night. It was like slipping into something comfortable and familiar.  I knew what to do and when to do it, and I’m good at it.  Its the first time that I’ve run in a couple of months and I’m sore as hell today…but its a “good kind of sore”.  With volleyball you just stand there, in baseball and basketball you’re moving with the game…getting an angle.

The sport of volleyball is growing yet the sport has lost 400 officials in three years.  The state is recruiting new officials at 20% of what’s leaving, but only retaining 10% of that group.  I feel that I might be in that 90% of new officials leaving the sport after one season.  While the sport of basketball is what I’m passionate about, and baseball is fun to work, volleyball perplexes me much in the same way that plumbing does.  Its nothing against the players, I just don’t understand the “way and the why” of the rules and of the game even though I’m trying.  Maybe that will change…time will tell.  Until then…peace to you and yours.

R

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