State Stories

22

2013-14 IHSA Officials of the Year

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The 2013-14 IHSA Officials of the Year at the IHSA Officials Conference in Peoria.


OCTAVIO HERRERA JR. - FOOTBALL
Octavio has been an IHSA football official for nearly 30 years, while also officiating basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse for the IHSA. A Brother Rice alum, he serves as an IHSA Football Clinician and is the President of the IACO officiating association. One of the state’s most respected mentors and teachers of officials, Octavio is also an assignor who works with several officials associations and conferences, as well as the NCAA.

Octavio’s crew was selected to work IHSA Football State Championship games in 2006, 2009 and 2012. He also served on the IHSA Football Advisory Committee, received the Abe Glick officiating Award from the AOA and was inducted into the Big K Officials Hall of Fame in 2013.

Octavio is currently a Broker Associate at Keller Williams Realty Infinity in Chicagoland and resides with his wife of 30 years, Nancy, in Melrose Park.


CANDACE MAY GADOMSKI - DANCE
While attending Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights, Candace participated in marching band, color guard, and dance, and remained connected too all three activities by becoming a judge. In addition, she coached an award-winning dance team for nearly two decades and cited her decision to become a dance official as a way to better understand the system she was competing in, while also staying connected to her artistic roots.

Candace has emerged as one of the IHSA’s top dance officials, working a Sectional and the State Final meet in each of the first two years of the State Series. She is also an IHSA clinician and a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee.

After working as a high school guidance counselor in Decatur, Candace recently relocated to Chicago after accepting a position as the student service manager on the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. She is proud to have several of her former dancers now coaching their own teams.


GREG SHIERLING – GIRLS SOCCER
When Greg Shierling finished playing soccer at Eastern Illinois and then Quincy University, he wanted to give back to the game he loves, while also helping grow it. He has officiated for the United States Soccer Federation since 1984 and became an IHSA official in 1997.

Greg has worked an IHSA Sectional every year since 2001, while also advancing to work the State Finals on six different occasions thus far. He is a founding member of the Western Illinois Soccer Officials Association who has taught a soccer officiating class at John Wood Community College. In addition he serves as a Trainer the Trainer instructor and on the Officials Conference Committee for the IHSA.

Greg continues to reside in Quincy with his wife Debbie and their children Kay-Leigh and Luke. He owns and operates two McDonald’s restaurants, as well as an indoor sports facility. He remains active in several community organizations like Boys Scouts of America, and also earned his black belt in tae kwon do.


MICHAEL MITCHELL – WATER POLO
A former swimmer and water polo player, Michael Mitchell took up officiating for his chance to, as he puts it, “get back on deck.” Michael first registered as an IHSA Water Polo official in 2006 and also added swimming to his officiating resume one year later.

He officiated his first IHSA State Final meet in 2011 and also remains an active officiating matches for the USA Water Polo and American Water Polo organizations. He is also a member of both groups’ respective officials associations.

Michael has worked as an automotive mechanic for the United Parcel Service for over two decades. He and his wife Claire have three children: Bridgett, Anthony and George, and welcomed their first granddaughter, Lucy, last year. He continues to play master level water polo and also stays active in cross fit, biking and other outdoor activities. He says that “youth are the most important resource we have” and he is grateful to promote fairness in being a part of their interscholastic experience.”


JAMERO RAINEY – BOYS TRACK & FIELD
Jamero Rainey went back to his alma mater, Proviso East, after college to visit with his track & field coach, Steve Lawrence, when Lawrence asked him to do him a favor and help him host a meet that week. 22 years have passed since that day, and every season since Jamero continues to find himself helping at track & field meets, including working as an IHSA official since 2006.

He has worked the IHSA State Finals in both cross country and track & field thus far in his career, while also officiating both sports for the NCAA and USA Track & Field. Jamero is an IHSA track rule interpreter and has been named an Outstanding officials by USA Track & Field.

Jamero works as a Accountant for Caterpillar. He and his wife Teri reside in Edwards with their two children, Brittany and Lauren, and find time away from cross country and track and field to make an annual trip to Disney.


LOU GANTZ – BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING
Lou Gantz’ sons, Josh and Chris, both enjoyed productive high school swimming careers at Glenbrook North High School. Their participation sparked Lou’s desire to give back to a sport that gave his family so much joy, leading Lou to become an IHSA official in 1999.

A member of the Illinois Swimming Officials Association, Lou has worked multiple IHSA Swimming & Diving Sectionals for both Boys and Girls, while also being assigned to the Diving Panel at the Girls State Final meet.

Lou and his wife Suzi reside Northbrook, where Lou is the President and CPA of his own accounting firm. His son Chris is now married and the Gantz’s have two grandchildren, Lucas and Leah. Lou is an avid University of Illinois fan and a supporter of the September 11th Remembrance Rescue Project.


RANDY BRICKMAN – BOYS SOCCER
Randy Brickman began officiating soccer when he was 17 years old and officiating turned into a year-round activity during his time in college. He wanted to remain involved after college and kept officiating, eventually joining the IHSA in 1986, en route to a decorated career that has seen him work 15 combined IHSA boys and girls soccer state finals.

Randy is an active member of the Chicago chapter of the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association and was recognized by the NFHS as the Illinois Girls Soccer official of the year in 1999.

Randy and his Bonnie reside in Deerfield and have one son, Justin. He owns and operates his own food broker business, Brickman Beverage Company. Randy calls receiving his first state final assignment one of the greatest honors of his officiating career.


BECKY WESLOW – CHEERLEADING
Becky Weslow’s roots in cheerleading began when she was introduced to the sport in fourth grade. She was coaching by 14 years old and officiating meets by 15, winning state titles as a coach and officiating at the highest levels of multiple organizations throughout the years since.

Becky was on the ground floor when the IHSA added cheerleading in 2006, and she has worked the state finals five times, including twice as the head judge. She is a member of the Illinois Spirit Officials Association and the Illinois Competitive Cheerleading Officials Association , and was inducted into the ICAA Hall of Fame.

Becky teaches first grade at St. Michael grade school in Orland Park, where she resides with her husband Kraig. They have two daughters, University of Illinois student Molly, and Amy, who will be freshman at Sandburg High School this fall.


MARK TRAPP – BOYS VOLLEYBALL
Mark Tripp began officiating based on the suggestion of a professor while he was in college. He loved the experience, but his first teaching job after school entailed coaching, so he hung his whistle up for several years. He eventually made his return to officiating and was licensed by the IHSA in 2000. He has worked all levels of the State Series between Girls and Boys Volleyball, including two state final appearances on the girl’s side, and one as a line judge at the boy’s state tourney.

A member of ZONI, Mark also officiates basketball and serves as an IHSA volleyball rule interpreter.

Marty and his wife Mary reside in Villa Park. Mark works as a teacher and cantor for Zion Lutheran Church and School in Bensenville. He and his wife breed and train golden retrievers and enjoy bicycling and staying active.


DAVID MITCHELL – CROSS COUNTRY
David Mitchell discovered the joy of officiating later than many of his colleagues. He had so much fun volunteering at his daughter’s cross country and track meets that he decided to get licensed by the IHSA in 2003. He has made a big impact in a short amount of time, being named the ITCCOA Rookie of the Year in his inaugural season and being selected as the Class 1A Girls Starter at the 2011 IHSA Cross Country State Final meet.

David also annually works Sectional meet for the IHSA and IESA in both sports, and serves as the head umpire at the IHSA track & field state finals.

David and his wife April have one daughter, Jonita, and reside in Peoria. David works as a machinist at Performance Pattern and Machine. He is also a Board of Education member in District 63 and a car enthusiast with world class certified technician status.


BARBARA OCZKOWICZ – GIRLS GYMNASTICS
Barbara Oczkowicz’s officiating career began when her coach and mentor at Triton College, Paula Ferguson, required all the girls on her squad to learn how to judge one another. A few years later with the advent of Title IX, the need for officials exploded and she jumped in.

Barb has been an IHSA Gymnastics Officials since 1973 and has been selected to judge countless Sectionals, as well as the State Final meet on nine occasions thus far in her career. A member of the IHSAGGJA, Barb is also an active judge in Illinois Park District Gymnastics.

Barb and her husband David reside in Carol Stream, where they raised their two children, Keith and Carrie. Barb retired in 2013 after 27 years as a middle school teacher, which provides her more time to spend with her granddaughter Amelia, who turns one next month.


GREGG DIDECH – BOYS GYMNASTICS
Gymnastics has been a central part of Gregg Didech’s life for many years. He currently runs Buffalo Grove Gymnastics as the organization’s President and has been a coach and official for many years, including over two decades as an IHSA official.

Gregg has worked 80 Sectionals in his career and has also been selected to work the IHSA State Finals meet on 15 separate occasions. He has also remains very active in committee work, having served on the IHSA Gymnastics Advisory Committee, the Coaches Association Rules Committee and the USA Gymnastics high school advisory committee.

Gregg and his wife Christina reside in Barrington, where they have raised five children: Daniel, Adam, Scott, Madeline and McKenna. Away from gymnastics, Gregg also enjoys race horses and playing softball.


SAMUEL MORAN – BOYS BASKETBALL
Sam Moran can’t help but laugh when thinking about the main reason he got out of coaching basketball and into officiating it….dealing with parents.
The parents haven’t gone anywhere, but Sam certainly has since becoming a licensed IHSA official in 1990. He has been assigned to 29 regionals, 13 Sectionals, 5 super-Sectionals and the state finals on two occasions, including the Class 4A title game in 2012 that featured a pair of nationally ranked teams.

A member of the West Central Officials Association, Sam also officiates volleyball. He credits his long-time referee partner Jude Kiah on helping him reach his potential as an official.

Sam and his wife Tina have two children: Stephanie and Rob, as well as four grandchildren: Ashley, Austin, Alexis and Demi. Sam is retired after a nearly 30-year career in law enforcement and resides in Lewistown where he enjoys hunting, fishing, golf and travel.


TOM DAUGHERTY – GIRLS BASKETBALL
Tom Daugherty describes the reason he started officiating basketball in four simple words…Love of the Game.

Tom was first licensed as an IHSA official in 1978 and has since go on to work numerous postseason assignments that culminated with state final selections in 2006, 2006 and 2008. He has also given back to the game in other ways, including serving on the State Farm Holiday classic officiating committee and as a Special Olympics state basketball volunteer.

Tom is a member of the Bloomington/Normal Officials Association and resides in Bloomington where he works as a supply and distribution specialist for State Farm. He has one daughter, Olivia, and one granddaughter, Brylee. When he’s not on the court, he enjoys being outside golfing, fishing and boating.


JANICE PLACK – GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING
Janice Plack says she deeply admires her brothers, IHSA officials Jeff and Joe who have 84 years of combined officiating experience, which helped lead her to officiating once her college swimming career was complete. She looks forward to bringing “objectivity and fairness to ensure equitable competition” every time she works a meet.

Janice has worked over 50 Sectional meets thus far in her career and was named the Illinois Swimming Officials Association Official of the Year in 2014.

Janice has two sons, Brian and Paul, the latter of whom currently serves as the Diving Coach at Maine South High School. She resides in Des Plaines with her two boxers Mac & Ruca, and works as the Interim Senior Operations Director for the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. She also enjoys volunteering with Solid Rock Carpenters and the White Sox Volunteer Corps.


DAVID SANDS – GIRLS VOLLEYBALL
When the rec league that he played in needed officials, David Sands began officiating on the nights when he wasn’t playing. He quickly realized he had a great passion for the job and is now closing in on two decades as an IHSA volleyball and basketball officials.

David has worked as a line judge at the Girls Volleyball State Finals on two occasions thus far in his career, along with three Super-Sectionals. A certified IHSA clinician, he is a member of the Southern Illinois Basketball Officials Association, where he serves as the President of the volleyball division and takes great pride in mentoring younger officials.

David and his wife Rita reside in Salem, where David is employed by the city working in Parks Maintenance. They attend nearly 30 St. Louis Cardinals games per year and enjoy outdoor activities like fishing and golf.


ROBERT RICE - GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
As a college athlete at Eastern Illinois University, Robert Rice was encouraged to try officiating by legendary Eastern coach Pat O'Brien. After his own children’s athletic careers concluded, Robert wanted to give back to the sport and is approaching 25 years as an IHSA track & field and basketball official.

Robert has worked IHSA track Sectionals for nearly 30 years and has been a part of the state final officiating crew for seven years, serving in the roles of Field Referee, Assistant Meet Referee and Referee. He is a member of the ITCCOA, USATF and IBOA, and has worked the IESA basketball state finals.

Robert and his wife Dianne have two children, Christopher and Kimberly, along with five grandchildren: Dylan, Kyle, Samuel, Ethan and Chase. Robert spent 44 years working in education before retiring, but still helps as a tutor and spends a great deal of time on the golf course.


BOB COPAS – BASEBALL
Bob Copas followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a state final baseball official. Bob accompanied his father Harold to games growing up, and matched his father’s career umpiring triple when he was selected to work his third IHSA state final in 2012.

A member of the AOA, Fox Valley Blues, UMPS and WBOA officials associations, Bob has additionally been assigned to 16 Sectionals and 11 Super-Sectionals thus far in his career. He also atively umpires NCAA Division III and junior college. A member of the AOA Hall of Fame, the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association named him their Umpire of the Year in 2005.

Bob and his wife Joanne reside in Elmhurst with their Labrador retriever KC. An avid runner, Bob has completed nine marathons to date, including the Boston and Chicago Marathons.


CHRISTOPHER SCHAEFER – SOFTBALL
Chris Schaefer’s passion for the game of the softball began with coaching, as he was an assistant coach on a Lane Tech team that reached the IHSA state finals in 2000. It then carried over to umpiring, which again led him back to state, as he was selected to work the state tournament for the first time in 2013.

A member of the Athletic Officials Association, Chris has umpired softball for multiple organizations, including IESA, ASA, NSA and USSSA.

Chris and his wife Susan reside in Chicago, where they raised their daughters Natalie and Heather, who still enjoy playing softball today. Chris works as a truck mechanic for the United States Postal Service and enjoys home repair, photography and Notre Dame Football. He credits fellow officials Tony Swat and Willie Smith for their guidance in his umpiring career.


JEFF SORENSEN – WRESTLING
After a standout three-sport high school playing career at Janesville High School in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Jeff Sorensen found himself in the stands watching his younger brothers wrestle, which inspired him to get involved as an official.

Jeff has been an official for nearly 30 years, having worked 24 Regionals, 19 Sectionals and a combined 16 IHSA State Finals, including eight individual state meets and eight dual team state finals. He was named the IWCOA official of the year in 2007 and inducted into the organizations hall of fame last year.

Jeff and his wife Lynette reside in Bloomington, where they both work for State Farm. They are happy empty nesters as their son Jeff and daughter Stephanie have moved on to the workforce after graduating from Illinois State University, while their other two children, Kylor and Emily, are both currently studying at ISU.