By Greg Gulas
When local OHSAA official Fred Vicarel retired as Northeast District Association administrator, his successor had to be someone with the same passion and vision for the position with a willingness for change.
Enter Ron Knight, a Howland resident and 1964 Bloomfield High graduate, who spent 35 years as a teacher and administrator at his alma mater before retiring in 2002.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting at the Blue Wolf Banquet Center, Knight said officiating has come a long way since he began his whistle-blowing career as a freshman at Ohio State.
“I’m hoping to last half as long as Fred. I would consider that a great run,” Knight said.
Now in his sixth decade of officiating, Knight said today’s officials are much better than those when he first started out.
He is a five-sport official who still holds a card for football, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball.
He added up-and-coming officials have many opportunities that were not available before.
“We do a lot more today with the training and developing of our officials,” he said. “One of the most valuable things is basketball camps that are offered statewide.
“You go to team camps and are able to walk away with constructive criticism with the hopes of moving forward.
“Those critiques are unlike the ones that you hear from the fans in the stands on game day,” he laughed.
He said officials today are scrutinized far more than in the past and under extreme scrutiny.
“With the advent of cell phones and other communication devices that take photos, a questionable call can find its way to YouTube within a matter of seconds,” Knight said.
Knight’s greatest contributions to officiating have been in training and mentoring officials.
He served 19 years on the Northeast District Athletic Board and twice on the OHSAA Board of Control. As a District Board member he took special interest in the organization of sectional and district tournaments.
For two decades he coordinated the assigning of officials to Northeast District Tournaments in all team sports. He was also instrumental in advancing the use of the three-official system in high school basketball tournaments.
In 1992, Knight was recognized for his service to high school basketball by the OHSAA with a Life Membership to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame in 2004.
Knight said the referendum for competitive balance that was introduced recently (and defeated by vote of the schools) will probably make its way to the floor once again this spring.
“That referendum narrowly lost last spring,” he said. “The committee studying it is doing some tweaking with the hopes of resubmitting it once again this spring.
“It remains an issue with plenty of interest and concern; not only from schools but from fans alike,” Knight added.