This week, MHSAA assistant director Brent Rice explains why officials take up the avocation despite frequent criticism of their best efforts.
Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.
Below is this week's segment – Because They Love It - Listen
After the uproar about officiating in a recent pro football game, an online article appeared with the headline “Why in the world would anyone want to be a referee?” It’s a good question.
While everyone in the game – players, coaches and officials – strive for perfection, only the officials are ultimately expected to reach that standard. And that’s simply not fair. So why would anyone want to be a referee?
Every referee will give you three little words: “I love it!” They love it because they know how important it is – no matter the level of play. And they want to be right all the time – and most of the time they are. And like a lot of other things in sports, the friendships and relationships built, the memories – they can’t be beat. So we’ll always encourage people to join us as referees, and for those who can’t – or won’t – to stay in their lane when at the game.
February 7: Coach/Official Communication - Listen
January 31: Backcourt Violation? - Listen
January 24: Required Hockey Equipment - Listen
January 17: You Make the Call: 10-Second Clock - Listen
January 10: Tripping in Hockey - Listen
January 3: Sliding in Basketball - Listen
December 27: Stalling in Wrestling - Listen
December 20: Basketball: You Make the Call - Listen
December 13: Basketball Uniform Safety - Listen
December 6: Coaching Box Expansion - Listen
November 29: Video Review, Part 2 - Listen
November 22: Video Review, Part 1 - Listen
November 15: You Make the Call - Sleeper Play - Listen
November 8: 7-Person Football Crews - Listen
November 1: Overtime Differences - Listen
October 25: Trickery & Communication - Listen
October 18: Punts & Missed Field Goals - Listen
October 11: What Officials Don't Do - Listen
October 4: Always 1st-and-Goal - Listen
September 27: Unique Kickoff Option - Listen
September 20: Uncatchable Pass - Listen
September 13: Soccer Rules Change - Listen
September 6: You Make the Call: Face Guarding - Listen
August 30: 40-Second Play Clock - Listen
August 23: Football Rules Changes - Listen
Separated by 527 travel miles – whether over Mackinac Bridge or around Lake Michigan, the Novara family celebrated nearly parallel football successes this fall.
At Portland, John Novara completed his 25th season as head coach leading the Raiders to a 12-1 record – their best since finishing Division 5 runner-up in 2018, and a second-straight Capital Area Activities Conference White championship on the way to reaching the Division 4 Semifinals.
At Kingsford, fifth-year coach Mark Novara led the Flivvers to a 10-2 record – their best since posting the same in 2004. Kingsford shared the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title and won a Division 5 District title, its first District championship since 2009.
John Novara graduated from Iron Mountain in 1989, and younger brother Mark graduated from Kingsford in 1993.
Similarly parallel, both teams were quarterbacked by Novaras. Dominic Novara directed the Raiders’ attack, and cousin Nic Novara led the Flivvers. Both are juniors. (Mark Novara was a Division III All-American at quarterback at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.)
One more connection: Portland athletic director Kevin Veale quarterbacked the Iron Mountain teams with John Novara as tight end long before they worked together downstate. Veale’s nephew Garrett Veale was a standout two-way lineman for Mark Novara and Kingsford this fall.
Small gesture, memorable connection
Dante DeGrazia’s senior season was sadly short-lived this fall, as he suffered a season-ending injury during the first half of South Lyon East’s opening game against White Lake Lakeland at Michigan Stadium.
But an official provided a memory the DeGrazias will not forget.
Chris Curtis had begun his 16th season as an official earlier that day at U-M, and stuck around to watch the Lakes Valley Conference matchup. A month later, he was officiating the East/Warren Mott game, and made sure to check in with DeGrazia – a small gesture, but a meaningful one as well and another reminder of the interconnectedness of communities within educational athletics.
“When he heard my son wasn't able to play anymore, needed surgery and that he was a senior, he offered him kindness and a hug on the field,” Dante’s mother Dana DeGrazia wrote to East athletic director Greg Michaels. “As a parent whose son is going through a rough time dealing with losing his senior season, hearing this story from Dante means a lot to me and the support that was given to him and I wanted to reach out and tell him thank you.”
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford football coach Mark Novara, far left, quarterback Nic Novara and Portland coach (and uncle) John Novara celebrate the Flivvers' District title. (Middle) South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game. (Photos courtesy of the Portland football program and DeGrazia family, respectively.)