Officials awards presented at State Boys’ Basketball Tournament

Wrestling official Rod Frost among honorees

Game officials play an extremely important role in high school sports. Without them there would be no games – it would only be “recess.” For two years now the Minnesota State High School League has implemented an extensive awards program, and at the 2012 State Boys’ Basketball Tournament two officials associations and eight individuals were recognized for their special efforts and accomplishments.

The most prestigious association award is the Association Award of Excellence. This award recognizes and rewards one association for its overall quality and the service provided to League member schools. The recipient of the 2012 Association Award of Excellence was the Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Officials Association.

With more than 50 members, the MGGOA has served member schools since 1977. This organization has extensive and well organized programs in recruiting, training and mentoring officials. The eight-member association board meets three to four times per year. The association holds both an annual pre-season meeting and mid-season meeting with required attendance, at which extensive training is provided.

“In-home” training sessions are provide by association members for new and current members. New officials must shadow a veteran official for a month during the competitive season and then must practice officiate for five varsity meets before being assigned to a varsity competition.

The association works diligently to create relations with senior competitors, encouraging them to become judges as they attend college, and provides opportunities for that to happen. The association is known for maintaining positive relations with high school activities directors and coaches, and has consistently provided top quality officials during both regular and post-season competition.

The association is also active in community events. Members have volunteered at Special Olympic and cancer fundraising competitions, and for the past three years have provided leadership in fundraising efforts for a needy family within their gymnastics community.

The Citation Award is given annually to recognize and reward an association for a specific program that has made a significant impact on the association or the schools and athletes that it serves. The winner of the 2012 Citation Award is the Minneapolis Officials Association for its football officials mentoring program.

This program is designed to help train and retain new officials by providing intentional connections with veteran officials. A new official works with a mentor and his crew. They attend varsity games to observe and work with the chain gang, and submit a report describing the experience. They must attend two in-season association meetings where there is training on rules, mechanics and interpersonal skills. New officials work with their mentor and members of his crew at games below the varsity level and receives direct feedback.

This program allows the Minneapolis Officials Association to provide more highly qualified officials for both lower level and varsity contests. As a result of the training and mentorship, an increased number of new officials are advancing to the varsity level and continuing to officiate.

The award presented to individuals is called the Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes individuals who go “above and beyond” in their service to their local officials association. The individuals receiving this award have made an impact on their association, League member schools, and the student athletes of Minnesota through their leadership, long-term service and commitment.

The 2012 recipients are (with quotes from letters of recommendation filed with each individual’s application):

Rod Frost , Farmington — Gold Country Wrestling Officials Association. Frost, an official for more than 20 years, has been on the board of directors for 12 years, head of the mentoring program for 10 years, charter clinician for eight years and also assists with assigning. He has also created a basic level training video for wrestling officials. “Rod has a real passion for making wrestling officiating a professional position . . . he trains mentors on what is required to develop the skills of new officials . . . when asked to help deliver training, the answer is always, Yes!”

Doug Goodmund, Marshall — Marshall Officials Association. An official for nearly 40 years, Goodmund has been a member of the association for 35 years and in a leadership position for the past 25 years. His service includes recruiting, training, head rules interpreter, mentor and observer in five sports; football, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. “Doug’s commitment to high school activities is second to none . . . he is a man of trust and always accepts responsibilities and executes them promptly and completely . . . he has had a tremendous impact on the development of officials in southwestern Minnesota . . . I would not be at the officiating level that I am at today without the mentorship and support that I have received from Goody.”

Arnie Mavis, Brooklyn Center — Gopher State Officials Association. Mavis officiated for more than 30 years and has been a member of the association for 46 years. He was known as the “recruiting department” for the association and still assists by referring, encouraging and hiring new officials. Mavis not only helped new officials get started and how to be a good official, but also how to be a good person as an official, just has he demonstrated throughout his career. “It was always a treat to have Arnie work our games . . .I loved to see him walk through the door because I knew it was a game where the official understood my work as a coach . . .he was always smiling and doing his best for the game of basketball . . . if all officials were clones of Arnie Mavis there would be no disagreements between a coach and an official!”

Buzz Olson, East Grand Forks — Northwest Hockey Officials Association. Olson has been a registered hockey official for more than 35 years and continues to serve as a League regional coordinator. He has served as president of the association for 15 years, and during that time has assisted in the development of every official in the association. Olson has also been very instrumental in the development of youth hockey officials for more than 30 years. “The NWOA is a recognized and respected officials’ organization statewide and without Buzz, it wouldn’t have happened . . . the biggest contribution he provides is creating opportunities for officials to succeed . . . all of the officials I have spoken to from this area of the state owe their success to the guidance Mr. Olson provided.”

Gary Parker, Fridley — Minnesota Gymnastics Judges Association. Parker has been a registered official for more than 40 years and as the president of the association for more than 35 years he pioneered and implemented many of the bylaws, policies and operational procedures. He has been a leader in recruiting, training and mentoring officials during his entire career and has been a leader in the use of video to train gymnastics officials. Parker has also served as a rules clinician for the League for many years. “Gary has had a tremendous impact on the growth and success of gymnastics in Minnesota . . . the positive impact that Gary has had on countless numbers of student-athletes, parents and colleagues with whom he has so successfully worked with over these many years is remarkable.”

Dennis Roach, Mendota Heights — St. Paul Hockey Officials Association. As an official and association member for the past 38 years, Roach has served as a member of the board of directors, as treasurer, as an evaluator of officials, and as an associate scheduler for more than 20 years. He has also been the charter clinician for the association and his contributions have had a major impact on the structure, vision, direction and success of the St. Paul Hockey Officials Association. “He never focused attention on himself and always put the game of hockey and the safety of student-athletes at the top of his list . . .Dennis does more evaluations than anyone else by a large margin . . . he does this for the love of the game . . . without him, the game of hockey would not be the same.”

Elaine Taggatz, Bloomington — Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Association. Taggatz just completed her 40th year as a gymnastics judge. She was one of the founders of the association in 1977 and was heavily involved in the development of the bylaws and policies while being the lead rules interpreter. She has also served as the head rules clinician for the League and as the state meet referee since 1978. “Elaine not only watched as the sport grew and the rules changed, but she also was a catalyst for that change . . . she is respectful, acts with integrity, and is empathetic . . . the sport of gymnastics would look very different in Minnesota if Elaine had not invested her time, energy and expertise helping the sport to develop.”

Steve Vekich, Duluth — Lake Superior Basketball Association. Vekich has served as an official and member of the association for more than 50 years. From 1960 through 2010 he served as the association’s treasurer and assigner. He has also been a leader in the recruitment and training of new officials, and continues to serve college conferences and the League as an observer and evaluator of basketball officials. “Whenever observing me or another official he always told me the positives and items that I could work on . . . I would call Steve the glue that has held this association together over the years . . . I simply would not be at the level I am at today without his help . . he gave me the opportunity to stay part of a game that I love.”

The League congratulates all of the award recipients and extends its gratitude for many years of dedication to high school athletics and service to the student-athletes of Minnesota.