Applauding Youth Sports Officials

Applauding Youth Sports Officials

Doug Calhoun

Ashland Beacon

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     Most days, in communities across the Ashland area, courts and fields are filled with

energetic boys and girls. The sidelines and bleachers are crowded with supportive, hopeful

parents, grandparents and siblings. Every season is accompanied by its own sports. Every sport

requires its own coaches. The uniforms change, the equipment varies.

     Our area is rich with opportunities for our kids to compete in youth sports. Every sport

requires referees, officials, and umpires. Fortunately, we are blessed with plenty of men and

women who are willing to fill these demanding and rewarding responsibilities. Some are

modestly compensated while others volunteer their evenings and weekends.


     Veteran youth official Tim Wallin is a strong example of one of the many altruistic youth

officials we are blessed with right here at home. Wallin began officiating youth sports when he

was eighteen calling youth church basketball games at Oakview Elementary. When he was

twenty-one he was refereeing for the first organization that served grade school basketball

hopefuls at the YMCA. This league eventually became what we know now as the Ashland Youth

Basketball league. Back then, Wallin was handsomely compensated two and a half dollars per

game. Meager pay didn’t deter his love for kids and sports as he is now sixty-eight years old

and still billowing the whistle fifty years later as he continues with the AYBL, middle school and

varsity boys and girls basketball.

     Wallin didn’t limit his generosity and talents to basketball. Through the years he has also

served as an umpire in Minor Little league, Major Little League, Little League Softball, and Babe

Ruth Baseball.

     Wallin speaks of how rewarding officiating grade school kids can be. “When you ref a

game, especially in grade school, you are helping the coaches teach the players where to stand

in certain situations, such as free throws and in-bound passes.” Wallin’s infectious smile is

evidence that he takes joy in his dual role as referee and coach. One would think that one of the

most prominent complaints that a youth league official would have would be jeers and heckling

from overly competitive parents and other spectators, but Wallin says that the biggest

challenges come from getting in position to make the right call and concentrating on not

becoming a spectator and stepping out of his role as referee.  He says that he feels most

rewarded when they smile after making a basket and when they smile back at him when he

emphatically tells them, “Yes, you can do it!”

     One parent, Erin Womack, recently took notice of Wallin’s good will when she noted his

treatment of her son Oliver on the court. “I’ve seen Mr.Wallin take time to give a few words of

advice and teach kids at several games so far this season. Their little ears are absorbing what

adults say, and taking time to explain things on their level is so important. Oliver said he (Wallin)

asked him if he was nervous, then explained where his feet should be and what to do after each

foul shot.”

     Wallin’s story is an extraordinary example of giving of yourself, going above your calling,

and being an example of kindness in the sometimes challenging world of youth sports. But, our

area is fortunate to have lots of “Tim Wallin’s” with great hearts and noble intentions as they

serve our kids. The next time you attend a youth sporting event, return the kindness and take a

second to shake a referee or an umpire’s hand and thank them for their generosity and

dedication. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to do this in front of your child so they can see that the men

and women with the whistles around their necks enforcing rules, keeping order, and instructing

are partners with you in building quality athletes.

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