ARCANUM – The father-son officiating team of Vern and Gregg Pigg are often seen at the Greenville JH gym and many Darke County schools officiating junior high basketball games.
At 70 years of age, Vern is still going strong and plans to continue for several more years if son Gregg does the same.
The father-son team just completed the Cross County Conference (CCC) junior high 7th grade, 8th grade and freshmen boy’s tournament finals held at the Arcanum High School gym.
“We have been accused of being brothers,” chuckled Vern. “We’ve worked so many games in the area that most people know that I’m Gregg’s father.”
Vern began officiating in 1977 and worked for 20 years with a full varsity schedule including tournament games.
“After 20 years I was still in good shape and wanted to continue,” said Vern. “I had some work conflicts, family and things so I decided to get out of it. I had no intentions of coming back.”
Vern’s son Gregg coached for 14 years at Brookville and one season at Franklin Monroe before deciding he needed a break, taking a year off.
“That’s all it took was one year of winter time of nothing to do,” said Gregg. “I talked to dad about officiating and said, I’m thinking about doing what you did.”
Vern told his son he would return to officiating if he got into it, “so we’ve been doing it together,” said Gregg.
“It is definitely special,” Gregg said of working with his father. “Even more-so, I have memories from way back when dad actually started officiating and I could barely walk. That’s how I got introduced into basketball, when I used to ride with him to games. I really enjoyed it… I thought that was really neat.”
“I would go back in the locker room with him and get a chance to talk about the game and learn about the game,” added Gregg. “Obviously when I got older I started playing and then I got into coaching.”
Vern and Gregg have chosen to concentrate on officiating younger players’ games and take a pass on varsity games.
“I don’t work anymore varsity games,” Vern said. “It’s not that I can’t… I just chose not to. I think I can make more of a difference working junior high games, youth games and a few junior varsity games.”
“I do a full schedule of junior high and high school (JV) games,” added Gregg. “I don’t do varsity games. I look at all the games at all levels the same. I think it is just as important for any of them. It’s an important game no matter what level. You have to love the game to do it. It’s fun.”
“One of the neat things at this age is to watch the kids blossom and learn the game of basketball,” Vern added. “See the kids grow and watch them become good basketball players in high school.”
Vern figures he has officiated at least 2,500 games over the years with games that include players going on to the college ranks from the area and a few that made it to the pros.
“I’m even old enough myself that some of the games I do, the coaches are former players of mine so it’s neat to still be around in the area,” said Gregg. “You get to see people each year. It’s neat to see the kids grow when they are in junior high, then see them in high school and then some of them come back and coach.”
“I know the grandparents of kids better than I do the parents,” said Vern. “I officiated some of the parents, but the grandparents were some of the spectators back when I first started.”
Vern and Gregg agree the game has not changed much over the years with minor exceptions.
“The rules haven’t changed a whole lot,” Vern said. “They emphasize certain things every year and one of the things they have emphasized ever since I started the game was hand-checking. It seems like they just want us to do more of the calls on hand-checking.”
“I think maybe that last couple of years there has been a little bit more control over the hands,” continued Vern. “The kids adjusted to it, the coaches teach keeping your hands off but other than that I don’t think the game has changed that much.”
Offensive charging and defensive blocking calls are close to the top if not the top of fans disputed calls.
“That is one of the toughest calls (charging vs blocking) to call. It is one of the calls that most people think you get wrong most of the time depending on which side you’re on. We’re right 50 percent of the time,” Vern said with a smile.
Both father and son encourage others to get involved in officiating.
“They need a lot of new officials,” said Vern. “There are quite a few that are not a lot younger than me that are still officiating. Sometimes I think they are doing it because they need to because there are just not enough people.”
Greenville Athletic Director Randy Swisher provided the following information for those interested in becoming an Official.
Log on to www.ohsaa.org
Look for link “officiating” … use drop box and click on “Becoming an Official”