Life is like this. Sometimes we are so happy that we are finally traveling on a life journey for which we had hoped for forever. At the same time it becomes a lonely road. Without someone to share the journey, it tends not to be as fun. I know many other officials who finally had been accepted into the "D-1 Club." They told me that due to the time demands, it took a toll on their family life. They finally had gotten their first "comma check." (This is what we call any check that has four digits.) And although the money filled the empty heart, it never fills it with the same as true happiness as love and friendship fills the heart.
I knew officials who knew true happiness. They brought their wives with them to every single game. High school, college, didn't matter. I would work with these partners and see their wives beaming from ear to ear sitting in the stands. During some tournaments the wives would guard the "referees drink and food cooler" they had brought with them. They were happy to be a part of the game of basketball and simply "together." It was the relationships I formed with these officials that I cherished. To see an official as not only your partner on the court but in the role of father, husband, wife, mother, brother, son, daughter, etc.off the court added the human element. We are more than just officials. The right thing to do is to be well-rounded. I'll be the first to admit, I had a hard time separating myself from my position. I was a referee 24-7. I loved it. When I watched TV, I wasn't a fan, I was analyzing the calls and the officials themselves. I drove my family nuts.
One of my favorite NFL officials, Ed Hochuli, gave an interview to Referee Magazine and he was asked the question, "What do you regret most?" He answered that he regretted not being able to be there for his previous marriages (all four of them) due to his love for the game of football. I could understand that. I kept a journal during my first two years of officiating. I remember constantly writing about games and how I loved the tournaments I was in other states. Calling five games a day, being exhausted, feeling happy to exercise but most of all lonely at the end of the day, truth be told, I missed my kids and husband. Many times I took my kids with me to the tournaments at Disney WWS (Wide World of Sports.) They were old enough that they kept themselves busy and didn't run around uncontrollably. They sat in the officials locker room and ate the food I had brought with us in my cooler while watching TV. The other officials always commented on how well-behaved my kids were. They told me that they thought it was great that I brought them. They wished they had brought their kids as this probably made me a "real person" off the court to them too. I was not only an official but a mother who loved her kids so much that she wanted them to be with her on her officiating journey.
Within a week of officiating that WWS Disney tournament, Tony sent an e-mail to everyone that we were no longer allowed to bring our kids inside the locker room. Since I was the only one that had brought my kids I took this personally. Why didn't he just pick up the phone and tell me? If I'm a mother I must be a "big girl." The next time I went, another official had his son in the official's locker room. I thought to myself, I wish my kids could come too as they were about the same age as this other official's son and they could have had some fun together. I went into the office and asked Tony why there were was a kid in there as I thought he has sent an e-mail out to us that we were no longer allowed to bring our children with us to officiate. I was told that because the other official was at Disney as a "National AAU" official, he couldn't do anything about it. We were local AAU officials being assigned games by Tony. The Nationals were assigned by assignors other than Tony. Being a National AAU official myself on occasions other than Orlando Disney WWS, I knew that the truth was, Tony couldn't actually do anything about it if I brought my kids again. He was just being as we say "Tony." I say Tony was being an asshole for no apparent reason. The problem was if I chose to fight this battle with Tony, he would strip me of any college games. He was my assignor for Disney over the summer and my assignor for college in two conferences. I would lose the war.
So now I don't referee anymore. I'm not "my position" anymore. I miss it but I'm ok with that. I love being a mother and a student, learning new things. And looks like now I'm going to be rewarded for this "student thing" with a Student of the Semester Award. Something else came in the mail Monday, four bills from the colonoscopy that was supposed to be completely covered by my health insurance. I'm not sure if they will even get paid, there's nothing to "trade." But I'm not going to worry about it. You can only control what you can and can't worry about what you can't. It reminds me of what one of the senior officials I met in the local high school association said. He was over seventy and still officiating high school. A gentle older man, he reminds me on many occasions when he sees me, "BJ, when you get to be my age, it's just Bills and Pills!"
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.