A little over a year ago, my dad received a tremendous honor when he was named the Official of the Year for the Inland Empire Football Officials Association (IEFOA). The distinction crowned him the best football official in the city of Spokane and the surrounding areas. I commemorated this very special achievement with a blog post. If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so because it is one of my favorite posts I have ever written. Well, just this past week my dad attained another very prestigious honor.
In November my dad received the news that every single football official wants to hear: Congrats sir, you have been awarded a state championship football game. Not only would my dad be on a crew that would officiate a state championship game, he would be the chief of that crew. He was selected to serve as the referee, or, as some people refer to it, “the white hat.” This was big time.
Earning a spot in a championship game as an official is very much analogous to earning a spot in a championship game as a player or a coach. Few might reach the peak early on, some might attain it after several years, most will never come close. For my dad, he received the coveted assignment in his 30th year as a football official. After three decades of service, countless years of flawless ratings, numerous playoff games, a few semi-finals, and an Official of the Year award it was time for my Tom Reser to get the nod.
My dad made my mom promise him that if he ever was lucky enough to get a state championship game she would come watch him. So last Friday my dad, mom, and brother traveled to the west side of the state to Tacoma, a city the size of Spokane right next to Seattle. The hotel they checked into was right next to the Tacoma Dome, the site of the Washington high school football championship games. Over the course of two days, the five classifications in the state would all hold their title games inside the dome. My dad had the honor of officiating the 1B championship game on Saturday afternoon between Neah Bay and Liberty Christian.
This will put my dad’s accomplishment into perspective for you: Besides my dad’s association of the IEFOA that covers the Spokane area, there are several other officiating associations across the state. Those associations have numbers of officials in the triple digits as well, just like my dad’s. All of these organizations are eligible to have their people officiate in these post season games. With so many officials and so few spots, it is very competitive to land a playoff assignment, let alone a state championship game. What the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) does is assign the different associations a certain amount of spots at certain positions. In the football world of officiating there are specific spots such as back judge, line judge, umpire, head linesman, and the referee (white hat). Some years my dad’s association won’t even have the option to send a referee. This year they did and my dad was chosen.
So with this system of associations receiving certain spots on state championship officiating crews, it sets up these mixed “dream team” crews. For my dad’s game he was the leader of a crew filled with officials from all across the state. Because they obviously had never worked together before, my dad did his best to create chemistry in the short amount of time he had and get everyone on the same page. He succeeded.
In a game that stayed close most of the way but ended with a semi-lopsided score, the Neah Bay Red Devils defeated the Liberty Christian Patriots, 56-38. My brother and mom both texted me numerous times throughout the game to tell me how great my dad was doing. When I talked to him after the game he naturally said “it wasn’t a perfect game” but I have no doubt that on the largest stage my dad and his crew gave both those teams their best officiated contest of the year.
I am extremely proud of my dad for sticking with something for 30 years to eventually reach his ultimate goal. As I watched the Coastal Carolina football game on Saturday I thought about him often as I knew he was getting ready for his game. I could definitely feel some of the excitement inside of me that I knew he was feeling at that moment. Great work, dad! I love you and am proud of you. Don’t Blink.