“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde
All my life, I have leaned on, collectively, to myself. For I’m a classical only child: no brother, no sister. I call people my brother, and sister, but never have that biological right with anyone to my left or right that I can write of. I largely grew up in an era where Nintendo was the rage, going out and playing outside was the norm, with no adult supervision for hours on end. Kids would find Stranger Things, and would be the only one, in a crew, with intimate knowledge from an experience that was uniquely me. My super power growing up? Being able to get into small spaces to get balls that were lost or stuck in a crevice, and having intimate knowledge of a store that existed that sold quarter water’s for 10 cent a pop.
I’m. That. Dude.
“Everything I’m not, made me everything I am.” – Kanye West
My come up was unusual. My first white friend that wasn’t my teacher, came in 12, and the only friends I didn’t have was black, was my best friend Anthony, who humbly came from the jungle that I came from: Baldwin/Roosevelt/Hempstead.
I struggled, when I entered catholic school; not because of the religious aspect, but moreso, that I was out of my comfort zone; until it became my normal. Enter learning who I was, and leaning on friends that I consider my fam, and of course my fam that now have fam of their own. That. Is. Me. Unique, through and through.
“I don’t make the list; don’t be mad at me
I just make the hits like a factory
I’m just one-of-one, nothing’ after me.” – Jay-Z
When it comes to reffing, use your personality, you yourself as an asset. Chances are you ref similar to someone, but at the end of the day they aren’t you. Vice Versa. And so, we discuss it’s important to be you. Yourself. The authentic version.
TRANSGRESSION OF THE RULE
I’ll remember one of my mentors who I’ll remain anonymous for this one, and how his presence was on the Baseball diamond. He used no indicator, he used his voice; it projected: moreover, he was slow, methodical, getting every call and no call correct, to the point where no one – not one player, coach, or spectator questions any strike/ball. I was utterly amazed.
The very next game, I decided to apply that tactic early: no indicator.
:::SITUATION::: TOP OF THE FIRST INNNING, FIRST BATTER…..
First call, a strike. Easy enough. The kid swung his bat and missed. Next pitch, was borderline. Nonetheless, a ball. I started talking to the catcher, getting to know his name. In the interim, the coach of the home team asked me what the count was. Perhaps he wasn’t paying attention. That caught me off guard, because I thought I had my indicator with me, since it’s been engrained to bring one. That momentary lapse made me guess what the count was.
“TWO-TWO,” I shouted, with two peace signs up for everyone to see as if I was Richard Nixon resigning. The assistant coach looked at me and smelled something fishy.
“2-2?!?” He yelled. “There were only two pitches blue!”
In that moment I realized that I wasn’t my mentor. In that moment, I realized I skipped steps. Woe. Is. Me.
OBSERVANCE OF THE RULE
Of course, from things that I’ve previously written, that was but a temporary setback. Of course, I was embarrassed in real time, but afterwards I was engaged, knowing that another mistake like that would make my credibility plummet even more. And that’s why this particular tale is a transgression and observance. I know I’m ok with making a mistake. I know I can quickly recover. I saw what it was like to commit suicide, and be resurrected in the same breath. And that’s what’s unique about me. I’m divested of embarrassment, and flushed whatever happened previously.
I got stronger throughout the game, as my engagement was stronger, my awareness sharper, emboldened with each pitch. After the 3rd inning it was like having an indicator – in my head.
“I don’t like how serious they take themselves
I’ve always been me I guess I know myself.” – Drake
KEYS TO THE RULES
Meat & Bones: A big foundation of officiating is that there’s no idea that’s original; there’s nothing new under the sun. We are under, and we have people that have come before us that have experiences that could be deemed invaluable for our development that we can apply. You can watch an official and take what you like, and disregard what you don’t. Moreover, you can listen to their wisdom from their experiences and some of those tenets may sound euphonious, and you can take those with you. Other things won’t apply to you. For a hockey official to tell me that his patient whistle is the difference between calling a premature icing, vs. a no call that leads to a play on can relate to me, in many of the sports that I do. Him talking about back skating may not. Absorb what’s useful. Disregards what isn’t. Meat. &. Bones.
Define Your Identity: One day, a few years back, I was talking to a fellow official, and discussed how there was a lack of support from other officials to my growth and development. He disagreed with my take: “Young man, you have a lot of support. You get individual support from our group, but don’t think for once EVERYONE is going to help you.” That led me to write down my identity, on paper, so I can see what type of official. Here are a few attributes of what makes me:
WILLING TO CHALLENGE MYSELF IN GAME.
READY TO TAKE ON THINGS THAT I’M NOT READY FOR.
WILLING TO FAIL IN REAL TIME.
What is your Identity?
Work: As important it is to watch other officials and figure out what you can take, the only way you can identity these things, and to find your identity is to work. Work as many games as you can. No one can be the token from where you want to be. That comes from within, and only from you.
Me myself and I
That’s all I got in the end
That’s what I found out
And it ain’t no need to cry
I took a vow that from now on
I’m gon’ be my own best friend