I received a text message one afternoon informing me that my crew was selected for a 3A State Championship at Boone Pickens Stadium. For a game official its something you dream of doing and when I received this it was as if Christmas had come a month early.
The drive up to Stillwater was typical we quizzed each other on situations and rules knowledge and my personal favorite mechanics and philosophy. Arriving at the stadium was a different story, walking into a Big XII officials locker room and being treated as one. We each received a commemorative coin and football for the event and then we went out on the field. On the mini tour, we guided ourselves, we got to walk along the field. I know what you’re thinking “big deal you get to walk around it the entire game”, when officiating the game there are so many responsibilities that often we miss the stadium or notice how many people are in the stands. The playing surface was impressive I’ve always liked officiating on artificial turf, it makes me feel like I run faster, and we all know that’s not the case. The stands and press box were enormous and made us seam like tiny people on the field. The four scoreboards were a lot different than the ones we are used to seeing. It’s not typical to have jumbo trons at a high school game. The stage was set.
After our walk around we made our way back to the locker room and started to get dressed and further our pre-game discussions with the occasional jokes and humor that comes along. It hit me then that there was no butterflies. I wasn’t worrying about doing something wrong or about who will be watching from the stands. I thought to myself it will start when I walk on to the field. Boy was I in for a big disappointment.
The opening kick-off was just like any other game. Followed by my pre-snap routine, mechanics, the atmosphere and everything else. This was just another game! I was as relaxed and focused as I had been all season. Except the fact I had forgotten my whistle in the locker room, thanks for bringing a spare Mike, the game was perfect. It was when the final pass was thrown incomplete that I thought to myself, as the winning team ran onto the field throwing equipment and gloves in victory, that I had just officiated the biggest game in my officiating career. On that day there was one game being played in Oklahoma and I was one of five selected guys that got to officiate it.
It took a couple weeks to realize the reasons why everything had gone so smooth. Those reasons were preparation. From going to clinics, rules meetings, scrimmages, countless hours reading manuals and rule books, and our crews weekly discussions I was prepared. These regimens of preparation are not a season long habit, they are year round. In an officials mind the season never ends.
|Pictured left to right; Lawrence Burdine, Jay Seikel,|
Timmy Young, Mike Manlapig and Jason Seikel
There are many people to thank for this opportunity that I was given. The Shawnee Football Officials Association and The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association were a big part in getting me on that field. As for the preparation I owe that to my crew; Timmy Young, Mike Manlapig, Lawrence Burdine and most importantly my Father, Jay Seikel. If it wasn’t for Dad I would have never decided to become a game official some 13 years ago and I would have never been able to walk on that field. Thanks Dad!