Growing up in the 1970’s in the midwest, I became a huge Bob Seger fan and I am to this day. I often find myself on the road cranking up the Seger I grew up with. One of my very favorite albums was Live Bullet which in my opinion was one of the best live albums ever released. Live albums were quite the thing there for awhile as Kiss Alive, Frampton Comes Alive, and many others were released during the late 70’s early 80’s.
So maybe some of the Turn the Page lyrics don’t fit but I know those lonesome highways and wishing the trip was through.
On a long and lonesome highway
East of Omaha
You can listen to the engine
Moanin’ out his one note song
You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before
But your thoughts will soon be wandering
The way they always do
When you’re ridin’ sixteen hours
And there’s nothin’ much to do
And you don’t feel much like ridin’,
You just wish the trip was through
Here I am
On the road again
There I am
Up on the stage
Here I go
Playin’ star again
There I go
Turn the page
Being a high school referee sure isn’t like being a rock star but here I am on the road again. Leaving Payson at 10:30 Friday morning and getting to Cibecue which is located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation about 130 miles from home for a 2:00 homecoming game. This is the second time I have been to Cibecue this year and they play their games in the afternoon on an 80 yard field and it is an adventure. Arriving fully dressed since dressing facilities are located a long way from the field, you have a choice of portable toilets to use. Small crowds and it is always fun to see these teams from the city traveling into land unknown to them.
The Cibecue Wildcats may not be great but they sure have good kids. I have gotten to know the quarterback and he is a great athlete and this year crowned the homecoming king. We had fun with that. Not every day you work a game with a king. The game ends with Gilbert Christian winning by a good margin but the sportsmanship was fantastic and everybody seemed to leave happy.
Parting company with my fellow officials, I push on to Whiteriver, the headquarters of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, for my next game with a different crew, and to Alchesay High School where I had worked the previous two years. I stop by and see my old home in teacher housing where Roy Sandoval still resides and we get to visit for awhile before heading to Alchesay.
I sort of knew that returning would be an emotional time for me as it really was the best time of my working life. Seeing Bridget Bones, Janice Massey, Ryan Walker, Peggy Yazzie, (those from the office) was quite an emotional reunion for me. Then of course other teachers, staff and I am already sort of feeling the love. Then the students. Oh my goodness, what a homecoming for me. They were as friendly as could be and I couldn’t have been any prouder to be able to see and talk with them again. So maybe being a referee is not like being a rock star but you know I sure was feeling the love.
They announce the officials prior to the game and I got this rousing ovation which gave me goose bumps. The game was a blowout as Blue Ridge crushed the Falcons but the kids never gave up and I was proud of their efforts.
So back on the road and our crew stopped by Dan Waring’s house for a great time of friendship and food. After visiting for a good time, it was on to Payson finally crawling into bed about 2:00 a.m.
But the story goes on as I crawl back out of bed to go ref youth football games that start at 8:00 in the morning and five games later, which is about 6:00 I am finished. I’ve been doing this youth football stuff for 30 years and it wears you down. I can’t even explain to you the agony and the pain associated with doing 5 games with only 3 officials. The last game was a thriller as the local Payson team won on a long pass play with about 20 seconds left to pull out a 6 point victory. Leaving the field, just beat to death, it all comes back around as some intoxicated parent approaches me and then starts berating me that I did all I could do to keep Payson from winning. Friday night ovation, Saturday a beat down. Yep, here I am on the road again, there I am up on the stage, here I go playing star again, there I go, turn the page.