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  #1 (permalink)  
Old Wed Dec 26, 2018, 04:11pm
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Location: Indiana
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Losing a good one...Games are short

Hope you all had a good Christmas holiday....

I've made a ton of friends through this game both as a youth coach and official over the past 20 years. Some of those folks you'd like to forget...others have an impact on you and my buddy "Big Fella" is one of them.

"Big Fella"....A fellow Official that I met through coaching and officiating about 8-9 years ago, a guy that has been a HS official for 30+ years, a guy who helped me get games in my community when I moved from the north side of city to a small south side community and was the "new guy" around the area. A guy that didn't care I was new. He remembered me from the times I was the coach and he was calling my games. A guy that I've since called games with and also a guy who has 3 of his 6 daughters who are working their way into officiating that I've worked with and helped out...A guy I call a friend and he's one that I respect and look up to as not only an official but as a person. He's just one of those guys that seems to never know a stranger and would do anything to help you out, official or not.

KB was diagnosed with cancer, I think it was last year. Due to chemo he wasn't strong enough to officiate last season (at least I didn't see him out on the schools or courts where we would run into each other).

FFWD to late September this year, I was working one of the kids weekend travel leagues we have worked together so many times and low and behold, there he was...all 6'7" of him, in great spirits and looking healthy. And MAN, you could tell he was happy to be out there...even if it was just some youth travel league games. You could tell his spirits were lifted that day. As a fellow ref, it was great to see the guy back in stripes and between the lines.

About a month ago I texted him to check in and bounce some officiating stuff past him and he told me he was just getting out of the hospital. What I needed wasn't important and I told him to rest up. So this past weekend, as social media will do for us sometimes...I was informed he was coming home from hospital... again.

This time though, him going home seems to be for good....because the decision has been made that there will be no more chemo treatments or doctor appointments...hospice is being called in. I can only assume that my guy knows it's the fourth quarter and his clock is ticking down to have make a decision like this. He's already missed and this game and our local brotherhood of officials will continue on but it will not be the same without you, Big Fella

Games are short....Life seems shorter sometimes...
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Old Wed Dec 26, 2018, 04:46pm
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Connecticut
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Prayers ...

Big Fella, and his family, will be in my prayers.

I've had an unofficial mentor for the past thirty-five plus years, Sandy.

He's a multiple state final official and has been very active in our local board, holding several positions, mostly dealing with training. Everytime he observed me or worked with me he had both positive compliments and negative criticism for me, and he made me a better official. I would observe him in many state tournament games, and he always invited me into the locker room for halftime and post game meetings, often asking if I "saw anything".

He's had health struggles over the years, a broken ankle stepping off a curb, and a heart valve replacement.

He showed up at our first meeting this year (new rules), and he hosted a Refresher Exam meeting, in both cases wearing a surgical mask. He's undergoing chemotherapy for stage IV liver cancer, and is susceptible to germs due to his weakened immune system.

I posted something a few weeks ago and I'll post it again.

When I started officiating almost four decades ago, I often went to wakes and funerals for parents of my officiating colleagues. Now, in addition to going to wakes and funerals for parents of my officiating colleagues, I'm also going to wakes and funerals of my officiating colleagues.

I remember walking into a state tournament quarterfinal a few years ago, seeing Sandy and two other veterans. Sandy was the referee and I approached him and said, "What did they do, pick the three oldest officials on our board to work this game?", without skipping a beat he replied, "No, they picked the three with least amount of hair". All three were as bald as a cue ball.
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Last edited by BillyMac; Thu Dec 27, 2018 at 09:01am.
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Old Wed Dec 26, 2018, 08:05pm
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If this post had a "Like" button, I would click on it.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old Thu Dec 27, 2018, 11:05am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddy View Post
If this post had a "Like" button, I would click on it.
Same
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old Thu Dec 27, 2018, 06:24pm
Ok is the new good
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RefsNCoaches View Post
Hope you all had a good Christmas holiday....

I've made a ton of friends through this game both as a youth coach and official over the past 20 years. Some of those folks you'd like to forget...others have an impact on you and my buddy "Big Fella" is one of them.

"Big Fella"....A fellow Official that I met through coaching and officiating about 8-9 years ago, a guy that has been a HS official for 30+ years, a guy who helped me get games in my community when I moved from the north side of city to a small south side community and was the "new guy" around the area. A guy that didn't care I was new. He remembered me from the times I was the coach and he was calling my games. A guy that I've since called games with and also a guy who has 3 of his 6 daughters who are working their way into officiating that I've worked with and helped out...A guy I call a friend and he's one that I respect and look up to as not only an official but as a person. He's just one of those guys that seems to never know a stranger and would do anything to help you out, official or not.

KB was diagnosed with cancer, I think it was last year. Due to chemo he wasn't strong enough to officiate last season (at least I didn't see him out on the schools or courts where we would run into each other).

FFWD to late September this year, I was working one of the kids weekend travel leagues we have worked together so many times and low and behold, there he was...all 6'7" of him, in great spirits and looking healthy. And MAN, you could tell he was happy to be out there...even if it was just some youth travel league games. You could tell his spirits were lifted that day. As a fellow ref, it was great to see the guy back in stripes and between the lines.

About a month ago I texted him to check in and bounce some officiating stuff past him and he told me he was just getting out of the hospital. What I needed wasn't important and I told him to rest up. So this past weekend, as social media will do for us sometimes...I was informed he was coming home from hospital... again.

This time though, him going home seems to be for good....because the decision has been made that there will be no more chemo treatments or doctor appointments...hospice is being called in. I can only assume that my guy knows it's the fourth quarter and his clock is ticking down to have make a decision like this. He's already missed and this game and our local brotherhood of officials will continue on but it will not be the same without you, Big Fella

Games are short....Life seems shorter sometimes...
Thanks for sharing the story of Big Fella...Very well written with heartfelt sentiments! Health, family and careers are fragile and can burst at any time!
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Old Sun Dec 30, 2018, 07:47pm
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 18
it’s officials like that we need more of ,giving us insight when we’re young and getting started officiating and down the road when “we” come across a play we need advice about and call them. And as you put it great sprints after everything the man had been thru.
You’ve been blessed to have journeyed parts of his life.
Thanks for sharing
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old Mon Dec 31, 2018, 12:21pm
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Indiana
Posts: 115
Update on the Big Fella...

Got to stop by his house yesterday afternoon and pay a short visit to him, his Wife and his 3 daughters that officiate. I knew going in that his days are very limited.... walking in and seeing this 6'7" frame that jogged the courts officiating at 230 lbs down to what had to be 175-180 lbs, now propped up in a recliner under blankets, with his head being held up by one of those airplane neck pillows and his IVs and the other tubes coming from the body of this gentle giant, that are essentially sustaining his life at this point... was heart wrenching.

His once booming voice that commanded respect from coaches, officials and parents in the stands at our youth leagues was a fraction of itself as his face lifted with a smile as I walked in the room and heard him say "Hey Mike, thanks for stopping by". When I asked him how he was doing TODAY? He replied, "I'm here with family...but I'm not going to make it, brother...I'm just waiting for my call home".

We chatted a little about what's going on with his condition and he said they haven't given him a time table but his wife sharing that they now have 7 days of "nutrition" left for home stay (he's being fed via IV)...I know that it won't be much longer and once hospice is brought in, it's about minimizing pain and maximizing comfort...It's sad that nutrition takes a back seat.

I let him know I appreciated him not only as a Man but as fellow official that helped me out when I came to his part of the woods. His reply was, "Hey, you're welcome...I trusted you and you never let me down on or off the court...I just wish we would have schedule more games together like we talked about...but life got in the way of that".

We both shed a tear at that point and I told him that "I appreciate hearing that and I know we'll be on a court again together someday soon"...he smiled and nodded.

My hope now is that his time left and his transition is an easy and painless one...You can see he's suffering and I know from dealing with hospice when my mom passed two years ago, his family is also. Wrestling with when to make that hospice call is hard, especially when your loved one seems coherent at times. The sad reality is that him passing will likely now be a blessing for those that care about him. I know it will for me and feel it will be for him and his family knowing what the final outcome is going to be...just not when that will be.

I'll raise a glass of some adult beverage in his honor tonight to bid farewell to 2018 and and I'll hit that whistle hard and confident on Thursday and Friday night this week at my games. The Big Fella would wouldn't expect it be any other way...

I'll miss this guy on the floor but life will miss him more. :-(
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2018, 12:30pm
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 17,186
Teary-Eyed ...

Call them colleagues, acquaintances, or friends, it's my favorite part of officiating, and losing them is my least favorite part.

I don't even like it, and I get teary-eyed, when they just retire, I want them to officiate forever.
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Old Wed Jan 09, 2019, 08:58am
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Location: Indiana
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Well, my guy, the Big Fella...passed away yesterday 1/8 shortly before 5pm.
I'm guessing there's a big game Friday night and they needed him.

While saddened at his passing I know he's no longer suffering and his legacy will live on. I'm sure we'll be back on the floor together in the future

RIP Kevin Burdine...Husband, Father, Friend, Official
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Old Wed Jan 09, 2019, 11:05am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RefsNCoaches View Post
Well, my guy, the Big Fella...passed away yesterday 1/8 shortly before 5pm.
I'm guessing there's a big game Friday night and they needed him.

While saddened at his passing I know he's no longer suffering and his legacy will live on. I'm sure we'll be back on the floor together in the future

RIP Kevin Burdine...Husband, Father, Friend, Official
Sorry for your loss!

Thanks for sharing this story, it was quite touching.
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Old Wed Jan 09, 2019, 11:24am
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Sympathy ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RefsNCoaches View Post
Well, my guy, the Big Fella...passed away
Every time I think of and pray for my friend Sandy and his family, I do the same for Big Fella and his family.
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