Flag on the Play
A Weekly Article by First Year Official Johnny Ivie
Ropes Texas, home to the fighting Eagles, who at the time were number 22 in the state in six man football, and it also was the starting site of a true adventure in sports. The cast of characters; 40 new recruits to Texas High School Football’s TASO group, the West Texas Chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials’. Among them was a former star on the grid-iron, at least in his own mind….Me! I had always wanted to officiate football, even when I was playing. It seemed I always had a different opinion of what the “REF’s” were calling in most games I played or participated in. So, I went ahead and took the challenge of becoming a new official. Little did I know the direction it would take me and how enjoyable it would be.
My name is Johnny Ivie and I have been a sports fan all my life. I can remember even before I played any sport I wanted to be on a field, court, track, etc…you name it and I wanted to run, throw, kick, and jump on it. I live in Lubbock Texas and yes oh yes, I am a huge Red Raider fan. I love Texas Tech and I bleed Red and Black. Heck, I even went to a high school that had the same colors. We did not win a lot but we looked good doing it! I am married to my wonderful bride, Kim for 16 years now and she is as much of, if not more on some levels, of a sports fan as I am. We have 2 wonderful boys, Noah 9 and Hayden 4. I am already making plans for them to play a professional sport of some kind someday. I must say, I thoroughly enjoy living vicariously through their sporting adventures and it helps me to remember my glory days as well.
I will be writing this article each week in an attempt to keep you informed of rule changes across Texas for High School Football and also give you a perspective of what its like to be a first year official. My goal is for you to build on your love of sports or to develop one as we move forward. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to throw a flag on me if needed. I can take it.
So, there I was at my first ever event to officiate. The smell of freshly cut and freshly watered grass was in the air. The sound of whistles blowing and coaches yelling filled the air. The distant call of a quarterback trying to change a play and me standing on the sidelines, wide eyed, worried if I could get it right, and curious about why this felt so good. I could not believe I was standing here about to embark on a new hobby with a sport that I had missed so much after ending my “storied” career. We were split into teams of 5 and each group would officiate for about 10 minutes each during an inter-squad scrimmage. I have to admit, I was nervous but the excitement overcame all of that. Then, from out of nowhere, actually he was standing right beside me. Then the Chapter President yells, “NEXT GROUP, GO” and I was off. I have to say that I did not do as badly as I was expecting and it seemed to be a natural progression even after all the years in between playing and being out there on that day.
My hope is that you will one day join me on the field of play as an official if, you are not still playing and to also enlighten you on the new rules of the game. Either way, football is about passion. You have to have it to be a player, a fan, a coach, and yes, even an official. Everyone I have met so far truly has a love for the game and wants to make it better. I hope you enjoy the time we spend together.