I’ve posted twice in the past year, which is pretty paltry. I used to crank out blogs with regularity. Now…unless I’ve got something to say I’ll just take a pass on blogging. That being said I’ll let you know what’s been going on here at RIPLEY INDUSTRIES.
let me fill you in. I’m a fifty-two year old guy. I’m middle-management at a small grocery store, have been for almost thirty years (THAT…ladies and gentlemen is a Cal Ripken-like streak). I referee basketball games in the fall and winter, baseball in the spring and summer. As for the present moment I’m just cooling my heels waiting for the weather to turn warm enough not to snow. I was supposed to umpire five games last weekend until it snowed seven inches. I’m supposed to umpire a double-header this Saturday. I drove past the ball field this morning and its still 40% covered in snow….so yeah. Not feeling real good about getting out there.
Consequently, though, I spend my days off from work lining up baseball games to work this season. There’s USSSA. American Legion, Perfect Game, high school games and an adult wood bat league all of which will keep me busy each night of the week if I’d like. Its just a matter of not double-scheduling oneself on the same night in two different places. I had it happen to me twice last season where a partner didn’t show up to help out. Ever try umpiring a game by yourself…? Not easy. Anyway, here are my favorite two stories about basketball refereeing. One is from personal experience. The other is one that I heard second hand.
I enjoy refereeing basketball more than baseball. Here’s one reason. Those “feel-good” stories. It was Senior Night at a local school. While our crew waited in the shadows of the bleachers each Senior basketball player (it happened to be a girls game that night) would get her photo taken with her parents, one on each side of the player. This particular team had a special needs girl on their team. I looked up just in time to see her and her parents photo being taken. OMG…she beamed, people. She absolutely radiated light, hope, joy and LOVE with her smile. Her parents were drunk with happiness…them…sharing a moment together before their name was announced and the three of them walked arm in arm to center court, roses in hand, for the crowd to acknowledge with applause. I choked up. Dead serious. A beautiful, tender moment got to me. Fast forward to us referees speaking with the head coaches and the school athletic director. They’d hashed out a plan for this special girl. She would start the game. The home team would let their opponents win the tip, go down and score…then they’d let the special girl score, followed with a quick time out to sub in for her (it was a conference game late in the season). Everything goes as planned, almost. The visiting team won the tip and brought the ball down court when the home team didn’t let them score. In fact…they played great defense and got the rebound. The home team threw a long pass down court to their special teammate who immediately knocked down a tough eighteen foot jump shot from the wing. The gym…EXPLODED!! I mean it. Absolutely ape-shit crazy. I looked at her coach, who was wildly calling for a timeout, and granted it. Her teammates poured onto the court hugging and high-fiving this special girl…the full gym rocking with cheering. Again…I swallowed hard. Dang kids making me sentimental. #lovethissport
The next story is second hand.
During Christmas break a local high school teenager drowned. The referee crew who was to work at the deceased students school right after the break ended wanted to donate their game checks to the young man’s memorial….on one condition…that their donation of their game checks not be announced, it was to be confidential. The schools athletic director was floored, absolutely floored by the officials offer. He thanked the officials, literally begging for their permission to announce their good deed. The officials wanted no attention, nor recognition and that was that….until the officials started their way back to the gym after halftime of the varsity game. It started with kids intermittently shaking the crews hands outside of the locker room. As the officials made their way into the gym they heard a smattering of clapping that grew into applause from the whole of the bleachers. Then players from both teams stopped warming up, turned towards the officials and joined everyone else by clapping. Apparently the athletic director announced during halftime that the referees of that nights contest had generously donated their game checks to the young mans memorial.
I asked one of the officials why they did it. His answer…”We’re all parents. We all love our kids. Isn’t that what we should all do…?” I know of several stories like this….where the game fees are turned back to the school or towards the fund-raising efforts of a student who’s fighting cancer, or whatever. It happens…you probably just don’t hear about it because we don’t shout about the good things nearly as often as we do about perceived slights. Change that in your life. Yell about the good. #positivechange
Well kids…that wraps up today’s edition of RICH RIPLEY. Take care of yourselves until next time. God bless…