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Plymouth Referee Officiates at Boys & Girls Basketball, Possibly History Making

February 26, 2019

ROn DayThe February 23, 2019 state Girl’s 1A Basketball Championship could have been an Indiana basketball record for referee Ron Day of Plymouth.  Although past  records are incomplete, it appears that Day is the first referee in the history of Indiana to referee the 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A games for both boy’s and girl’s basketball at the state level.

Day began his referee career some 28 years ago when his daughter Katie was a newborn. He said, “That’s when I realized how much diapers and formula cost.” Day said he was already a “sport’s junkie” and it seems natural to get into the referee side of the game to make the extra money needed for his family. He credits his former high school athletic coach at Plymouth High School , Russ Teel, with encouraging him to get into the official’s side of sports.

To become licensed in the state, applicants have to pass a written 100 question test. They then join one or more state associations in the sports they are interested in. At the beginning of the season, each sport then holds pre-season meetings to go over any changes and offer season clinics. According to Day, there are now extra meetings held online along with videos showing a number of different aspects of refereeing. Day said he only referees basketball, but the majority work within multiple sports.

Ron Day_We love the regThe average distance a referee covers in a game is between two and a half to five miles. Day said he ramps up his workout routine after the annual Blueberry weekend held in Plymouth over Labor Day.  In addition to the year round treadmill time, he increases his jogging time. He now tries to limit his referee time to only one game a night, but that was not always the case. He said, “When I teamed up with my partner, Tim Filson, we were calling some 80 games per season and we worked together for 18 years. “

Day said he has been mindful of how to manage his referee time with his business and his family. He said he owns his own contractor business and is able to schedule game time around projects. “When the kids were little, they went to bed early and I could be out after their bedtime. When they were in high school, I limited the number of assignments so I could attend their activities” He said. “Since varsity games are scheduled two years out, I had to check a lot of different schedules in order to balance family activities with my referee commitments.”

Referees usually begin by officiating lower level games such as those in elementary and junior high schools. He said there is any number of summer leagues where referees can gain valuable experience.

Day says there is a huge need for more referees. He said, “For instance, there used to be only two referees assigned at the varsity level and now the requirement is three.“  He said, “The average age when a referee retires is 56. Now we are finding that as there are retirements, there are not enough younger men or woman entering the profession to compensate.

The system for assigning referees for state level tournaments is still highly competitive. To be eligible, applicants must have served as a referee for at least ten varsity games, attended eight association meetings, completed the rules and online meetings, and passed a tournament test by at least 90 percent. Then applicants are then scored by every participating school in the state. There is a need for 384 officials at sectionals, 144 at regionals, 24 for semi-state, and 12 for the state finals.  After refereeing the final state games, officials must go back to the sectional level and work their way back up to the state level over a four year period.

Day says they use the videos of games as a learning tool, especially since video is often taken at a different angle than the one an official was looking when a call was made. He said being heckled by the fans or coaches usually affects referees for the first 3-4 years, then it gets easier to tune them out. He said, “Over the years you form relationships and tend to treat each other with respect. Fans usually follow the attitude of the coach.” He added, “I’ve been fortunate to develop strong relationships with a number of coaches, athletic directors, and players.”

Carol Anders Correspondent