Happy Father’s Day to My Dad

Today we celebrate Father’s Day. Most of us do all we can to recognize and honor our dads as we make this day as much about our patriarchs as possible. Excuse my selfishness, but today I am feeling pretty good myself. This isn’t a year where I tell my dad Happy Father’s Day and then wish that I was there with him, knowing that I still have to wait until the holidays to see him again. Rather, this year I get to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and then say “See you later this week!” It is true, by Thursday I will be in Spokane, together with my dad and family once again. I think this upcoming reunion definitely makes Father’s Day a little more special this year.

My dad and I when I was just a little boy.

My dad and I when I was just a little boy.

It seems like I hear people describe their dads all the time as strict, unemotional, down-to-business-type figures. This is definitely the exact opposite of my father. I grew up with a dad who was about as invested, loving, and interested in the lives of us Reser kids that a parent could possibly be.

Whether it was creatively documenting our major achievements or coaching our sports teams as kids, my dad was there. If it was helping me with my penmanship or aiding me on a school project, my dad was the guy. When it came to having someone take me to sporting contests, parades, and movies, I was riding with my dad. As I grew older, I knew he would be at every athletic event I played in, every team banquet I attended, and every school-related function I needed him for. Once I hit college I knew he would always be up to call me, always there to attend the family weekends, and always eager to welcome me home when I returned to Spokane on breaks. As I started my professional career it was my dad who wanted to know every detail of my job, who asked me non-stop assiduous questions, and who would at the very end always say, “I sure wish I had your job.”

My dad and I on the field after a football game in Missoula a couple years ago.

My dad and I on the field after a football game in Missoula a couple years ago.

No matter what, both of us will forever fondly look back on the amazing cross country trip we took together in April of 2014. It wasn’t even a question, my dad was going to help me move from one part of the country to the other as I started the next phase of my career. Driving a U-Haul some 2,700 miles, we had a very special time spending every minute together as we passed through some of the most scenic parts of this nation. It was the absolute bonding experience, an experience that consisted of four days living in strange hotels in sleepy towns. It went perfectly.

A photo from a rest stop during our epic voyage across the nation in May of 2014.

A photo from a rest stop during our epic voyage across the nation in May of 2014.

On this Father’s Day I would like to tell my dad how much he is valued and appreciated by our whole family. Dads don’t come any better than Tom Reser and that just isn’t me blowing smoke. This upcoming week will be the start of a very memorable time and I can’t wait. See you soon, dad. Don’t Blink.

Reaching His Goal After 30 Years

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.

My dad and I when I was just a little boy.

My dad and I when I was just a little boy.

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.

My dad getting his officiating bag ready before leaving the hotel for the dome.

My dad getting his officiating bag ready before leaving the hotel for the dome.

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.

My dad and his all-star crew from the championship game (please excuse  photo quality),

My dad and his all-star crew from the championship game (please excuse photo quality).

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.

Dad smiling

My dad smiling as he does something he worked hard 30 years to do.

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.

Congrats, Mr. Official of the Year!

Late last week the Inland Empire Football Officials Association held its end of the year banquet. This event served as a time for the association’s 100 football officials in the city of Spokane to get together as a group, enjoy some good food, listen to a guest speaker, and hand out a few awards. At the very end of the night they presented the biggest and most important honor, the coveted Official of the Year award. With his wife seated right next to him, Tom Reser heard his name called.

My dad with his very well deserved Official of the Year award.

My dad with his very well deserved Official of the Year award.

Last Thursday night my mom sent out a joyful text message to the three of us kids declaring the good news that our dad had won Official of the Year. All by myself in my apartment I immediately got a beaming smile across my face and my eyes watered up. I took a couple minutes to let the pride and emotion that I felt settle in my body before I composed a congratulations text to my dad. Later that night when my dad and mom returned home from his well-deserved moment in the spotlight I got to call him and tell him how I proud I was. He had done it.

My dad flipping the coin to start one of the 600 games he has officiated.

My dad flipping the coin to start one of the 600 games he has officiated.

After twenty-nine years as a football official, twenty-seven of those coming in the IEFOA, my dad had achieved the highest honor that he possibly could at the high school (and everything underneath) football level. You might say I am a bit biased being his son and all, but let me tell you, no one could have been more deserving than my dad.

It is proven: You do something better when you are passionate about it. My dad is, and always has been, passionate about officiating football. I grew up with my dad coming and going in his stripes. By the age of six I knew every single football hand signal because he took the time and displayed the amazing patience to teach me. My dad would slip me into one of his referee outfits and with me drowning inside of it I would perform the hand signals exactly as my dad called them out. Probably all the way up until I was twelve years old when someone asked me what my dad did for a living I told them that he was a football official as opposed to mentioning that he worked in administration at the Spokane Veterans’ Affairs Hospital.

From the time I was very little I admired my dad and wanted to be a referee like him.

From the time I was very little I admired my dad and wanted to be a referee like him.

When I did start to get older I took more of a notice on how dedicated and involved he was with officiating. A couple months before the season started I would see him studying up on his officials’ manuals. I would see him polishing his officiating shoes rigorously. I would observe him calling other officials to let them know when meetings were. I would go to trade shows with him where he would set up a booth and try to recruit new referees to the association. I would watch him spend his own money on sandwiches and Gatorades for his crew. After working a hotly contested varsity high school game on Friday night I would say goodbye to him on Saturday morning as I went to my own football practice and my dad went out to a dingy complex where he would officiate three straight YMCA fifth grade games.

By the time I was playing high school football my dad had rose to a permanent white hat. He had become well known in the association as a well-respected referee. Because of this I would sometimes vent my frustrations to him when I felt (as most high school football players do) that our team got screwed by the zebras. Even with me taking shots at his fellow officials who he defended to no end, my dad would always take the time to listen to my concerns and then address them. Although my dad couldn’t officiate games that I participated in, he would always do our Mead High School Blue-Gold scrimmage. I always felt honored to share the field with my dad and have my teammates tell me what a cool old man I had.

My dad starting a game between Lewis & Clark and Central Valley.

My dad starting a game between Lewis & Clark and Central Valley.

As I moved away, went to college, and started my career in Missoula, my dad continued to prosper as an official. He received more big time assignments, he was awarded several state playoff games, and he served on the officiating board. In a true show of leadership, my dad took it upon himself to create a sportsmanship traveling trophy. Each year now, the officials get together and vote on a team to win the sportsmanship award. It can be a varsity, JV, or freshmen team. My dad then travels to that squad’s end of the year banquet and surprises the players with the trophy.

I truly believe the pinnacle of my dad’s career came this season though. You see, at the start of this year my dad started a mission to lose weight. With 4:30 a.m. workouts and a strict diet that he followed religiously my dad was successful in his mission and lost 40 pounds. I think it was this final outstanding, selfless, and disciplined effort to improve his officiating and overall life in general that pushed him over the edge and made him the obvious choice for Official of the Year.

My dad has always told my brother and I that his dream is to one day officiate a game with both of us on his crew. Although at this point in my life that is not possible maybe one of these days I will have time to take up officiating and make my dad’s dream come true. Until then , even though he never told me he wanted this, I like to believe another one of his dreams came true last week: He was named the best at what he does, the best at one of his passions. Congrats dad, there is no one who worked harder at it than you. I am so proud of you. Don’t Blink.

Happy 32nd Anniversary, Mom and Dad

Today my parents celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary. Besides it being a very long time, I know the number 32 does not hold much of a significance in terms of milestones but because I have this blog and because I have two amazing parents, I wanted to make sure to write just a little something to commemorate this special day.

My parents, Mary and Tom, both grew up in the small town of Walla Walla, Washington. My mom claims she had a crush on my dad in middle school. However, the crush fizzled as my mom went to the private high school in town and my dad went to the public high school. They also went their separate ways for college too. After they graduated they reconnected back in Walla Walla at a bar. It was there that my dad got my mom’s number and later called her. They started dating and fell in love. On a sweltering August day in triple digit temperatures inside a small catholic church with no air conditioning, my parents got married. That was 32 years ago today.

My mom and dad in their earlier years.

My mom and dad in their earlier years.

You won’t find a better marriage than what my mom and dad have. They love each other and support each other. Many marriages are defined by struggles and hardships that take a toll on the relationship. My parents have never had such tribulations. They simply have always been loyal, kind, and patient with each other. As I have grown up and observed other marriages fall apart, my admiration for what my parents have put together has just increased more and more.

My parents and I clowning around during Halloween.

When I get married, I want to go about it the same way as my parents. I want to have a relationship with my wife that is based on love and trust. I want to be able to talk to her in the morning, while at work, and in the evening. I want to be the absolute best parents humanely possible to my kids. I want to treat the friends and significant others of my kids like gold in the exact same way my parents have always done. I want to build that marriage and that family in a way that everyone else looks at and respects.

My parents have a happy, blessed marriage. In 32 years they have produced so many fruits from their relationship that you would probably need 500 different trees to hold them all. They are the ultimate example of what a healthy and prosperous marriage is and I can’t express how proud and lucky I am to be their son. Happy 32nd anniversary mom and dad, I love you both. Don’t Blink.