SHERIDAN — As a referee, it’s always good to be invisible.
If people aren’t focused on the guy wearing the zebra stripes, then that guy is probably doing his job.
But there’s nothing wrong with a little recognition.
Sheridan’s Brett Reed was inducted into the Wyoming Sports Officials Association Hall of Fame July 27 during the Wyoming Coaches Association’s annual All-Star week.
Usually the one doing the judging, Reed was humbled in being selected by his peers.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said Wednesday afternoon, crediting Andrew “Moose” Marosok and Lyman Flint, the two other Sheridan inductees, as the reason he is where he is now.
“It’s a great honor to follow those guys — quite honestly an honor that I didn’t expect,” he said. “It kind of shocked me when I got nominated and it’s just a great award and I’m very proud.”
Flint was inducted just last year and Marosek in 2006.
“Those two guys were two of my biggest mentors when I was young getting started they helped me out a lot,” Reed said.
Reed graduated from Sheridan High School and then went on to play baseball for the University of Wyoming.
His officiating career began at the YMCA in 1979, calling city league games. In 1983, he joined the Sheridan Officials Association where he served for the next 22 years. Thirty years later, he has 23 high school regional tournaments and 20 state tournaments under his belt. Refs are selected for postseason, but he has since let go of his postseason qualifications in order to evaluate other officials.
Flint, a 43-year veteran on the court, labeled Reed as “just a real good guy.” He spilled that Reed started out just thinking he could be a city league ref, maybe get a Big Horn or a Tongue River game and make about $20-30 per weekend, but he was so good at it that he moved up.
The two friends manned Region IX tournaments in Casper together and did more college work in Billings.
“Certain jobs, you’ve got to have that thick skin but still be approachable, and that’s a real tough combination to get, and that’s Brett,” Flint said.
An even more impressive accomplishment, Flint claimed, was that in their 30-plus years policing basketball courts, not a single fight broke out on the floor.
“We can kind of sense guys getting mad,” Flint said, “and you just kind of pull them aside and tell them they don’t want to get suspended, then don’t get to play state or regional tournaments.”
Maybe it was because he really liked wind sprints up and down basketball courts, but more likely Reed’s career lasted so long due to the relationships along the way — a love-hate interaction with the fans, players and coaches.
“They don’t bother you too bad, for the most part you develop a pretty good relationship over the years with the coaches and the fans,” he said. “Some are tougher than others, irregardless of that, it’s the mutual respect for each other that ultimately prevails.
“You see these guys coaches, fans and athletic directors off the court and we’re all good friends.”
Blown calls or simple disagreements with coaches usually turned into things like golf dates in the summertime, Flint said.
For Reed, that camaraderie was just a part of 15 Wyoming-Montana All-Star games and 12 years of service as vice president on the SOA. He also umpired in 20 state tournaments and five USA Regional Tournaments for the Legion baseball program.
While the July ceremony was in honor of his work with high school basketball officiating, he’s spent plenty of time at the college and even a stint in a pro-league that went through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
Even more of a challenge than dealing with unruly crowds or the occasional grumpy coach was a commitment made off the court. Reed was sure to thank his wife, Debbie, in accepting his absence over the years. Getting the varsity games every weekend requires travel across the state — sometimes as much as 10,000 miles in a season. Flint remembered plenty of times Reed making sure he put his family first, skipping out on games for anniversaries or his daughter’s birthday.
Reed said he couldn’t have done it without his wife’s support along the way.
“I always said I wanted to do it as long as I could, and what that means is can you stay healthy,” Reed said. “As you get older you get the nagging injuries of course. As long as I can still run I’ll keep doing it. It’s getting tougher every year.”
Reed and his wife live in Sheridan. His daughter lives in Laramie with her husband, and she teaches at the high school. He has two grandchildren.
“He’s just real good at it,” Flint said of Reed’s quality on the floor. “In reffing basketball, you’ve just got to have that sixth sense what to call what not to call make to make it fair for both teams, he’s not a hometown ref.
“He might miss a call, but he’s very well liked by coaches and players because they know they can talk to him. He’s just very calm in the way he goes about it.”