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Official shortage at 25 percent less than a month out of the high school football season, benefits to joining the striped team

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 11:16 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The high school football season is just around the corner, kicking off late August, and one very important team has a roster shortage. Anyone at or above 16-years-old can be part of the Texas Panhandle solution.

”We’ve kind of been seeing this trend come where we’re dealing with a shortage of officials,” said Chad Dunnam, Amarillo High Athletic Director and football head coach.

The Amarillo Chapter is short officials by about 25 percent. They currently roster 92 and would like to have 140. It takes 7-5 officials to work a varsity game. It’s the sub-varsity games that tend to be moved to another date or officiated by a smaller crew.

“You know there’s been times where we didn’t have officials for a game, and we’d have to get coaches out there to officiate the game,” said Dunnam. “Try that a time or two and it will bring a whole new respect for our officials.

Basketball is also in need of officials. The Amarillo Basketball Chapter is made up of around 170 people, but they’re looking to have over 200. Part of the reason is that more varsity teams are calling for a three-man team over two.

“I definitely like the three-man crews,” said Leslie Broadhurst, Randall High basketball head coach. “It just makes sense that three people can see it a lot better than two.”

Anyone at any age above 16-years-old can become an official. Experience makes for safer games, but can also send officials like Richard Simmons from the Amarillo Chapter to the NFL. However one of his favorite memories involves his son Zachary.

“I was excited and actually one of the highlights of everything I’ve done all these years is he (Zachary) worked his first varsity game last year (2020). I was in the game with him, and he actually was the referee, the white hat, the crew chief in charge of that ballgame and I got to work with him.”

Zachary started refereeing at Randall High at age 16, just like Amarillo Chapter basketball official Jack Harper. Both seeing all the benefits of officiating.

“It allowed me to go to grad school,” said Harper. “I actually got my grad school paid for working intramurals, and just stayed involved.”

Money is not the main reason people officiate for their side side job. It’s the relationships that are built.

“As an official we’re not just here to enforce the rules, we’re here to teach,” said Zachary Simmons, a four-year official. “If you can help a coach understand a rule or a player understand a rule, I love doing that.”

If you are interested in becoming an official for football and other sports, check out taso.org or amarefs.org. For more information contact Marcus Thornton at (806) 584-2450 or marcus.aci@gmail.com. Meetings for football in the Amarillo Chapter kicked off July 19, and they continue on Mondays at 6 p.m. at the Region 16 Building. To become a basketball official, go to thsboa.org or amarillorefs.org.

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