2018-07-05 / Sports

Connor Thomas: The future of high school officiating

By Mike Wilson
Sports Reporter • mwilson@mihomepaper.com


SANDUSKY - The Michigan High School Athletic Association is looking for more young officials like Connor Thomas. Thomas recently worked the Thumb Sportswriters All-Star Basketball game that he also played in two years ago. SANDUSKY - The Michigan High School Athletic Association is looking for more young officials like Connor Thomas. Thomas recently worked the Thumb Sportswriters All-Star Basketball game that he also played in two years ago. MARLETTE – Connor Thomas is someone the Michigan High School Athletic Association is in dire need of - a young, capable official for high school sports. Thomas, 21, officiates for track, volleyball, baseball, softball and - his first athletic love - basketball.

In high school, Thomas got inspired to officiate from longtime Marlette coach Terry Reid. “When I was playing basketball,” Thomas said, “[Reid] claimed I was the only player who could play, coach and ref all at the same time.”

“The most recent Thumb All Star game,” Thomas said was the best experience he has had so far in his young officiating career, “because it had the most meaning to me. I was able to participate as an athlete in 2015 and was able to come back and officiate some of the kids I played with when they were a freshman and I still stay in contact with some of them. I also like to think that I am the first, and only two-time Thumb Sportswriters All Star (player & official).”


SANDUSKY - Connor Thomas checks the shooter’s feet for the 3-point line in the recent Thumb Sportswriters All-Star Basketball game, which Thomas had played in 2 years ago. 
Courtesy Photos SANDUSKY - Connor Thomas checks the shooter’s feet for the 3-point line in the recent Thumb Sportswriters All-Star Basketball game, which Thomas had played in 2 years ago. Courtesy Photos A marketing major at Oakland University, Thomas hopes more recent graduates will take advantage of what officiating has to offer and said getting certified is a fairly simple process. It is all done online at the MHSAA’s website.

According to the MHSAA Each new official has to take an online exam on the “Official’s Guidebook,” which contains all of the general information for officials, such as severe weather policies, dress code, criteria for postseason assignments and so on. Exams are non-sport specific unless an applicant registers for basketball or football, and there are study guides. Overall cost is $15 per sport, plus a $35 processing fee, which is recouped by the first or second assigned game.

Thomas wants young people to know officiating can fit into most schedules, and the games take two hours or less.

“The pay is definitely worth it, because, for sub-varsity games, you can get up to $55 a game, and up to $70 for a varsity basketball game,” Thomas said. “It’s a great way to get some extra cash through college, and, because we have such a shortage of officials, there are opportunities to ref nearly every night.”

Becoming an official does not have to wait until a student finishes high school. Thomas knows a friend who started officiating football as a junior at Kingston High School in the MHSAA Legacy official program.

“He has been working with me in many basketball games on Saturdays, starting with junior high level and has done up to JV boys basketball, and, this coming season, will be officiating all of Kingston’s junior high basketball games,”

Thomas added that he is willing to help out any young person get started on an officiating career and he believes he will keep officiating after he finishes college.

“I do think I’ll keep officiating after college, because I’ve grown to love it so much. Nothing is better than working with a crew and getting to spend your Friday nights in the gym, making some money and some good memories,” Thomas said.

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