A Recap of OGAD19 - The Beginning of a Movement

GAOA’s OGAD19 Opening Ceremony was the tip-off of a successful conference. Ginger Russell’s acapella rendition of the National Anthem was inspiring. Campbell High School’s ROTC Color Guard was sharp, dignified, and patriotic. They received a Georgia Flag and a United States Flag that had flown over the Georgia State Capital the day before in their honor. Also presented was a Commendation signed by Governor Brian P. Kemp that recognizes “Officiate Georgia Day” as a proper forum for sport officials across our state to work together in order to remedy the shortage of officials and to resolve new challenges in athletics.

GAOA’s Chaplain, Jack Kelly, honored nine officials who have passed away since last year’s OGAD conference.

Jesse Crews, member of GHSA’s Board of Trustees, welcomed attendees and challenged them to get to know their GHSA representatives and their state representatives, and to call on them to help improve Georgia high school athletics and to help improve conditions and benefits for officials too.

Don Corr, GHSA’s Associate Director, presented GHSA’s NFHS awards, and Alan Smith, GAOA Executive Director, and Jesse Crews presented awards to GAOA’s Overall Official of the Year, GAOA’s 10 Sport- Specific Officials of the Year, and GAOA’s six Charlie Bloodworth Lifetime Achievement Award winners. GAOA’s awardees are on GAOA’s Virtual Hall of Fame at www.gaathleticofficials.org. The awards ceremony picture session made clear that officiating is a family commitment. It was nice to have the award winners’ families join them for pictures.

Cheer officials’ Pam Carter, GHSA Cheer Liaison and recently inducted into Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s (GACA) Coaches Hall of Fame, and Jim Lord, Associated Director of USA Cheer and former captain of nationally ranked University of Kentucky cheer squad, conducted cheer athletic officials annual training in conjunction with GAOA’s OGAD19.

Derrick Stafford, a retired 30-year NBA Referee who refereed its 2018 Championship, delivered an inspiring and team building keynote address. Tony Greene, a longtime NCAA D-1 Basketball Referee who has refereed 16 NCAA semifinals and four NCAA championships, and Tony Brown, a 16-year NBA Referee who refereed the 2018 All-Star Game, moderated GAOA’s Coaches Blue Ribbon Panel.

The Coaches Blue Ribbon Panel, a highlight of OGAD19, featured Buddy Nobles – Head Football Coach of Irwin County High school; Dean Fabrizio – Head Football Coach of Lee County High School; Chad Garrison – Head Baseball Coach of St. Pius High School; Tim Hunter – Head Soccer Coach of Union Camp High School; Randy McClure – Head Girls Basketball Coach of Campbell High School; James Gwyn – Head Boys Basketball Coach of Campbell High School; Edward Shanner – Athletic Coordinator of Campbell High School; Leshea Hermansen – Head Cheer Coach of Campbell High School; Judy Young – Head Volleyball Coach of Campbell High School; and Jeff Searcy – Head Baseball Coach of Campbell High School.

OGAD19’s Blue Ribbon Panel Coaches opening remarks included praise for officials in attendance for their commitment to attend GAOA’s OGAD19 on a Saturday, and they thanked GAOA for conducting a well-organized conference, and thanked Derrick Stafford, Tony Greene, and Tony Brown, conference speakers for their contributions to high school athletics and to officials.

OGAD19’s Sport-Specific Breakout Session focused on compensation, an issue that contributes to the shortage of officials in many states, including Georgia. GAOA’s Compensation Committee Chairman, Hayes Cook, reviewed the effect that low pay for athletic officials has on Georgia’s shortage of officials. The discussion concluded with a motion being passed to complete GAOA’s compensation study for presentation to Earl Etheridge, Chairman of GHSA’s Official Advisory Committee, and then to GHSA’s leadership. The genuine commitment, enthusiasm, dedication, and excitement among attendees was motivating. Their positive mood was infectious.

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