Here at Godwin, two of our staff members officiate sporting events outside of school.
Henry Spiller is on the school’s security and safety staff. Spiller is a baseball umpire and wrestling referee.
“I have been a baseball umpire for 15 years and a wrestling referee for five years,” said Spiller.
Carl Torrence Jr. is an assistant principal. Torrence is a basketball referee who has been officiating for eight years.
Torrence was hoping to earn some extra money while officiating. Torrence officiates ages 10 and up. When asked about his biggest challenge when officiating, Torrence said “learning the rules for the different levels of basketball has been challenging.”
Some people begin officiating for different reasons. For Spiller, it was for the love of the game. Spiller participated in both wrestling and baseball throughout his childhood.
“I began umpiring baseball because I missed the sport. I played baseball at the college level and also coached at the college level. I coached for 10 years total,” said Spiller.
Spiller’s experience in baseball and umpiring has propelled him to umpire some very high level tournaments and events.
Torrence also has officiated some very prestigious and well known events. Torrence has officiated NCAA women’s basketball games. He has also officiated at the VHSL regional playoffs. Lastly, Torrence has officiated at the very well-regarded sneaker circuit, the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) at Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.
Spiller also officiates older young adults.
“In baseball, I generally officiate 16 year olds to college and adult baseball leagues. In wrestling, I officiate the middle school level to the college level,” said Spiller.
Officiating baseball is challenging because of the physical demand it takes on Spiller’s body. Whether it is because of the many layers of equipment he wears, the balls that hit off him or the pressure on his back from squatting, his body is being stressed on every pitch.
“Baseball is more challenging to officiate in my opinion. Wrestling also has its own challenges as I move a lot more than I do when umpiring baseball,” said Spiller.
As far as students go, Spiller has seen his fair share at the sporting events he officiates. When asked what it’s like, Spiller said he and his students have a mutual respect for each other.
“They respect what I do and I respect what they do. The students know that I’m fair but firm. I treat them like anyone else,” said Spiller.
Torrence said he has also seen students when officiating.
“It’s fun to see them [the students] play and compete,” said Torrence.
Throughout his career in baseball umpiring, Spiller has been a part of many exciting moments including being an umpire at the Virginia State Tournament Championship Game.
“I umpired a perfect game no-hitter in baseball. The pitcher recorded 17 strikeouts! I have also umpired many other no-hitters,” said Spiller.
In order to become a certified official, Spiller went to clinics and school for officials. Spiller says officiating is something you need to have a passion for.
For Torrence, it was a little more complicated based on the levels he was trying to officiate. For high school, he had to attend a two month class, pass a written test, and pay the registration fee. For college, Torrence had to attend the summer tryout camp, get selected by the commissioner of the league he was trying to officiate at, pay more money, and also pass the written test. Becoming a referee an intensive process.
“If you are looking to become involved in officiating, you need to truly love the sport. In baseball you have to take a lot of flack from fans but it is important to stay firm and make the call,” said Spiller.
When asked if his outlook has changed when watching sports because of his officiating career, Spiller said it definitely has.
“When I watch baseball or college wrestling, I follow the rules side of the game more than the playing side. Umpiring really is a game within the game,” said Spiller.
When watching the game Torrence said, “my outlook continues to change and I tend to watch and evaluate other officials”.
Getting into officiating a sport can be challenging but to some it is worth the trouble.
Torrence recommends “getting involved early, finding a mentor and being confident in your abilities”.