By Ray Hamill — The Crusaders and the rest of the H-DNL wanted to make sure one longtime local official got the send-off she deserved after playing such an important role for the league for much of the past quarter century.
On Wednesday night, before their North Coast Section playoff volleyball game against Holy Names, the St. Bernard’s girls paid tribute to Jan Henry for all she has done.
Henry was presented with a bouquet of flowers and introduced to the crowd.
“I’ve known Jan through softball and volleyball, respectfully. She was a great person to have on the court and the field,” St. Bernard’s volleyball head coach Wendy Joyner said. “She was great at what she does and has always been passionate about athletics and the kids.
“She’ll be missed in our local athletic events. Thanks Jan for being a great role model.”
Arcata head coach Laurie Griffith says she has always appreciated Henry’s dedication to the job.
“She was super easy to work with and always made sure the games were covered no mater what was happening,” Griffith said. “Officiating is not an easy job, but she made it look easy. We will all miss her.”
Henry, who says she is now off to play pickleball tournaments all over the state, first got into officiating when she began umpiring slow pitch softball games in San Francisco in 1994.
After moving to Humboldt County in 1997, she began calling high school softball games and admits that the switch to fast pitch softball was challenging at first.
“I was scared,” she said of her first game at Hoopa High.
Since then she has been a fixture at local softball and volleyball games as an official, as well as serving as assigner for Humboldt Bay Officials’ Association for both sports.
“I played a lot of volleyball in college and it was easy to transition to a referee,” Henry said.
She first officiated local volleyball games at the junior high level and joined the association in 2007, where she has served as assigner since 2010.
She also been assigning softball games for the association since 2007.
In addition, Henry has officiated some Little League baseball and soccer.
Her favorite memory during a long career, she says, was a 17-inning softball game in Del Norte, a game she described as “long but memorable.”
She also officiated a a CIF championship game down south that was scoreless for 10 innings and ended on a close play at the plate, on a call she made.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in the field and court and I will definitely miss it, but I think it’s time to do something else,” she told the league.
H-DNL Commissioner Jack Lakin believes her retirement leaves a “significant void in local officiating associations.”
“Her professional leadership and commitment to high school officiating will be greatly missed,” he said. “Her communication with the H-DNL and efforts to provide officials for all games (even at a moments notice) was appreciated.
“Jan also served as a positive role model for other potential officials, demonstrating there are other ways to be actively involved with sports other than being a player or coach.”
Last summer, Henry ran a clinic for high school girls interested in umpiring local softball games.