Six first-year officials recognized during state basketball championships


LAKE CHARLES – Lee Sanders, the director of the Louisiana High School Officials Association, has developed a number of programs over the past few years to recruit and retain officials.

Facing a critical shortage of officials in all sports, Sanders has initiated such programs as the Zebra Camp, the TIPoff Classic and the Battlefields to Ballfields along with the many people on his staff.

Add one more program to that list.

Sanders, along with Eric Held of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association, recognized six first-year officials at midcourt at Burton Coliseum on Saturday during Marsh Madness championship weekend.

“Without developing these young officials now, there are none for the future,” Sanders said. “Getting young people to become referees in our association will not only help them gain leadership qualities, but will also build lasting relationships with many others.”

The six former high school athletes honored as first-year officials completing the Young Referees Program were the Arcadia duo of Jarrian Hampton and Kayla Curris, the Avoyelles Charter duo of Peyton and Christian Hines, Alexandria’s Jamal Farhat and Leesville’s Aaron Green.

All six played high school sports recently, all having competed on the basketball court, with the exception of Green, who played two years of football for the Wampus Cats.

According to Peyton Hines, being on the court as an official was quite different.

“It was completely different being on the opposite side because the game is on you,” she said. “Being an official has opened my eyes to look for things you don’t necessarily look for if you’re in the stands.”

Currie, a standout player for the Lady Hornets, admitted that being on the other side of the court as an official has allowed her to grow as a person.

“Being an official has taught me how to keep my composure,” she admitted. “It hasn’t been easy, but officiating has helped me grow and mature as a person. Plus, it has given me more confidence.”

Christian Hines, who played at Avoyelles Charter, said he still liked being part of the game he loved so much as a student-athlete. But, he also realized being an official is tougher than you think.

“I’ve always loved the game, loved playing,” he said. “Officiating is more difficult than playing it, but it’s definitely something I’ve enjoyed doing. Officiating has taught me to stay focused. It was tough at first, but I love it.”

Farhat, a former ASH Trojan, has enjoyed officiating the games as well. But he has really enjoyed building relationships on the court with the veteran officials in his association.

“I love the relationships I have built so far,” Farhat said. “And by working with the veteran officials, you learn how to communicate with others and it helps you mature not only as an official, but as a person in your relationships outside of basketball.”

Hampton, who prepped at Arcadia along with Currie, has become better organized as a person, crediting officiating with that.

“There’s a lot more to officiating than what you see out there,” Hampton said. “This is something where you have to be locked in and stay focused. For me, it has helped me become more organized and I truly feel that I’ve grown as both a person and referee.”

Green, who last played basketball as an eighth-grader, said being an official has given him a different perspective on the court.

“Being an official has really opened my eyes and given me a brand new perspective on the game,” Green said. “I didn’t know if this was going to be something I wanted to keep doing. But I’ve truly enjoyed being a part of this and I really liked working with the veteran officials.”

As a group, all of them have been talking to other youngsters about coming out and becoming an official.

“Being an official gives you many opportunities,” Peyton Hines said. “It may get you out of your comfort zone at first, but I will always encourage anyone to do this.”

“I’ve already talked to many of my friends who will be graduating soon about joining up with our local association,” Green said. “Being around the game and all of the people is a great experience and I would encourage everyone to get out of the stands, grab a whistle and become an official.”

According to Sanders, above all, officiating is about building trust and relationships with other people.

“Officiating is a people business and it’s about building trust and relationships with the schools, coaches, players and the men or women you will work with,” Sanders said. “Being an official will help you learn how to communicate with others and that helps everyone progress in their chosen careers. And as an association, we are going to do everything we can to support and train our young officials.”