It has become a thankless job over the years and some of Hawaii’s finest student-athletes are trying to change that.
The ILH Student Advisory Committee — a group of 36 student-athletes representing all 19 ILH schools who meet multiple times a year to discuss issues statewide and nationally, volunteer for community service projects and learn sportsmanship and leadership skills to take back to their athletic teams within the ILH — has put together Officials Appreciation Week that started Monday and ends on Friday.
Prior to the start of every ILH sporting event this week, a lei and a thank you bag will given to officials and umpires and others involved with putting on a sporting event. It was an idea developed by the Student Advisory Committee in order to show an appreciation for a group of people who they feel don’t seem to get a lot of credit for what they do.
St. Andrew’s Priory student-athlete Jordan Jones — president of both the ILH SAC and HHSAA SAC — said the idea came up after reading about how the number of officials nationwide are declining, particularly in baseball.
“This is really important because officials are retiring and there aren’t very many (young people) that want to be officials,” Jones said Tuesday. “We’re feeling it a lot in Hawaii lately. Our student-athletes have noticed a lot of times officials hear negative comments, so this was an opportunity for us to recognize them and let them know how much we appreciate them.”
Jones said there are roughly 40 events this week in the ILH alone. The committee came together to make 110 ti-leaf leis. The goodie bags include water and a snack because they are all given to officials and umpires who will be busy working a game, some under the hot afternoon sun.
“It’s a chance to show people that they need to respect the officials and the knowledge officials and umpires have because we only get to have athletic events because they are there,” Jones said. “We’ve been able to hand out a few leis and bags so far and they all seem to enjoy it.”
The week’s biggest event will be Thursday at the ILH junior varsity track and field championships at Kamehameha. Student-athletes will be making an announcement to the crowd and present between 12 and 15 officials with gifts of appreciation.
Jones is a cross country and track athlete who understands just how many officials it takes to put on a single event.
“There are so many more people involved than some people think,” Jones said. “They all deserve credit and appreciation for what they do.”