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While Burnie Knight was focused on officiating several KHSAA State Volleyball Tournament matches Friday and Saturday, one of his granddaughters, 4-year-old Chloe, was more entertained with his attire.
This year, officials wore pink shirts and used pink whistles to support a Pass … Pink … Cure! … for breast cancer awareness at Louisville Valley High School.
Chloe couldn’t believe her eyes. Her favorite color is pink and she loved the fact the 55-year-old Hardin County resident was all dressed out in it for the cause.
“She thought it was the biggest thing in the world that her granddad would have to ref in a pink shirt,” said Knight, a 5th Region official who refereed his second state volleyball tournament in the past seven years. “We took a pic of it.”
It was a fun weekend for Knight.
He reffed six matches, including Louisville Assumption-Henderson County, Owensboro Catholic-Campbell County and Letcher County Central-Covington Notre Dame in Friday’s opening round, going from 8:15 a.m. until 11:15 p.m. He could not do Central Hardin’s first-round match against North Oldham since referees cannot ref teams from the region they are from.
Then on Saturday, Knight reffed Assumption-Lone Oak and Notre Dame-Mercy in the quarterfinals and North Oldham-Mercy in the semifinals before heading home.
Back in his first state tournament refereeing experience in 2006 in Frankfort, Knight was selected to officiate the championship match as Assumption defeated Erlanger St. Henry, 2-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-14).
Both times, it’s been special.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Knight, a 13-year volleyball official. “The first year I went to state tournament we had eight officials go. This year, we had 10 go. Every ref at beginning of the season that should be their goal – to work the state tournament because it’s a huge honor.”
Mike Holt, who’s in his 16th year as the 5th Region’s assigning secretary, said referees are selected by the coaches’ ratings in the KHSAA system. With about three weeks left in the regular season, Holt sent out a list of 22 postseason-eligible officials. Coaches ranked those officials 1-22, with the higher the rating equaling the better score and chance to go to State.
Then, the KHSAA had him send the four names of referees working the region tournament. Holt said the KHSAA took the ratings, along with other things, and made its selections – who included Knight.
Holt said Knight, who also refereed boys’ and girls’ 5th Region basketball from 1990-2006, understands there is some give and take between coaches and officials.
“If a coach says something that may upset him, nine out of 10 times Burnie will let that be water under the bridge. Good officials have to know when to give or take, know when to listen, have to know when to admit they were wrong,” Holt said. “A really good referee sometimes isn’t right. And he can tell the coaches he was wrong on something and nobody in the gym ever would know he’s wrong. If he does it right way, the coach doesn’t get upset, they just keep playing and keep going.”
Knight said one of hardest calls to make are those of double hits.
“Players are getting much more, their skill sets are improving. It’s probably the hardest call because that’s a judgment call. You can sit in the stands and see it differently, sit on the bench and see if differently. When you’re up on the stand, you see it differently,” he said. “Obvious doubles are easy but some doubles are harder. They’re something every official needs to concentrate on and be aware of. Players are getting so much better and so much faster.”
Knight said although you have a lot more eyes on you during the state tournament, the key is to referee like you have all year. Be consistent and keep your eyes on the lookout.
“Call what you see. With all the training, I watch DVDs and look on the internet on things, the bottom line is call what you see. If you feel it’s not a double or not a lift, everything else is pretty much concrete whether or not it’s in or out, call what you see. Don’t try to make something into something it’s not. Call what you see and leave it at that. That’s what the critiques are for,” said Knight, a 1975 East Hardin graduate. “I feel good about the state tournament. Six matches, it was a long day, a long season, but I’m very proud to represent the 5th Region.”
John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-1754 or email@example.com.