Most of you know I have a relationship with officiating basketball that some may say borderlines on obsession. From the moment I saw Reggie Miller break the hearts of the New York Knicks I was hooked. Growing up like most young basketball players I wanted to play in the NBA. When I realized a few years later, okay a lot of years later, that my physical abilities did not quite equate to guarding LeBron James in the final seconds of an important game, or a pick-up game for that matter, I turned my eye toward coaching, like my Dad.
After four years of coaching, a friend of mine asked me to officiate a local AAU tournament and I was immediately enamored. A couple of weeks later, I met Tyler Ford on a golf course after he got hired into the the NBA D-League (now the NBA G-League). At his recommendation, I attended Court Club Elite camp in 2012 and my journey was off to a great start. The people that started to enter this journey have been nothing short of incredible. Officials like: Tyler Ford, Marc Davis, Pat Fraher, Rob Rorke, Darron George, Nate Harris, Blake Mico, to my local guys: Casey Gaynor, Craig McCarty, Mark Sexton, and Sean West have poured time, development, encouragement, and criticism into my journey.
The purpose of this entry can be coupled with the thanking of all those people. However, the true heart behind this post is the journey I have been on with Pat Fraher, Darron George, and Dan DiFolco over the last couple of years. I met Pat through Marc Davis at a Pacers game a few years ago. It was seamless how the conversation between Pat and I changed from all basketball to all life. Most of you know my faith is imprinted into the DNA of everything I do. Pat was on his own faith journey and called me one day about starting a faith conference for officials. He told me this was something he and Darron had been conjuring up for a little bit.
In August of 2018 we held the inaugural Referees Embracing Faith (R.E.F.) Conference in Dallas, TX. Even though this was a brand new event, with rookie event planners, the stable of speakers was spectacular. Ed T. Rush, Steve Javie, Coach Homer Drew, Pat Fraher, and Darron George presented and I had the blessing of leading worship. Leading up to REFCon 2018 Pat was connected with Dan DiFolco who had launched the ministry, “Sports Officials Surrendered.” This partnership was the glue we had been looking if we wanted this event to gain momentum.
Shortly after the event in Dallas we were connected with Brian Sensibaugh in Mason, OH through his employer Prasco Labatories. They offered to partner with us for REFCon 2019 and the planning stages began. We just completed REFCon 2019 a couple of weeks ago and we could not be happier with how it turned out. Sure, we have growing pains still, but we are excited for the future.
Sports Officials Surrendered: https://www.sportsofficialssurrendered.org/
In His Grip,
Joshua Koch – Contributor