By Ray Hamill — H-DNL basketball officials have always been appreciated for the role they play every winter, but rarely have they been valued, respected and admired like they have been the past few weeks.
To say the least, it was a challenging season here on the North Coast, with COVID protocols affecting every team and resulting in an ever-changing schedule while also presenting a host of other logistical challenges.
Yet through it all, the one constant was the officials showing up when needed and wherever needed.
And that’s something every local coach seems to have appreciated.
“Hats off to the officials!” McKinleyville boys coach Cindy Semore Clancy said. “I know they were short-staffed this year, had to deal with multiple schedule changes and fight through the mask mandate, but they still managed to make adjustments to allow our players to experience some normalcy through athletics.
“I am so grateful for their willingness to be both flexible and professional during another season of COVID restrictions. Thank you officials.”
The Panthers coach wasn’t the only one to express a heartfelt gratitude as the season winds down.
“I, for one, am absolutely grateful for the job they did,” said Arcata boys head coach Kellen Maynard, whose team clinched the Dick Niclai championship on Friday night. “As short-staffed as they were and to be able to cover all the games was nothing short of amazing. On behalf of myself and the Arcata boys basketball program, we know without them we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did this season.”
How amazing were they?
According to head of officials Rollin Trehearne, a crew about two-thirds of what they normally have available for a season officiated a remarkable 384 games in two months and were forced to miss out on just two JV games all winter.
“We normally operate with around 35 to 40 officials, and we were operating with about 26 or 27 officials this year,” Trehearne said. “In two months we had 26 people taking the brunt of it.”
Without those efforts, the magical scenes we witnessed at Arcata and Eureka high schools after Friday night’s Dick Niclai championship games would not have happened.
“With no officials there are no games, and with no games we wouldn’t have had the chance to compete for a league and county championship,” Maynard said. “They are as important to the game as the coaches and players.”
Long-time local coach Mike Harvey, who guided the Eureka Loggers to the girls Niclai title, says his respect for the local officials has reached new heights this season.
“They did a great job all year,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with their effort, with their professionalism and the way they responded this year.
“And they’ve been really responsive to our needs in a tough time coming out of COVID.”
Maynard, a former basketball official himself, said he hopes people involved with the game truly appreciate their efforts.
“I hope coaches, players and fans understand the importance of treating the officials with respect and appreciating the job they do,” he said. “And I hope all of them come back next year and more people think about joining the association. We could use all the officials we can get.”