Gerry Davidove starting working as a sports writer covering high school sports in 1977, the year before he graduated from college.
He’s reported on and attended thousands of NJSIAA contests during a career that saw him write about just about every sport that’s sponsored by the association.
It gave him an up-close chance to see how more and more, people in the stands, and an occasional coach, would act disrespectful toward officials, something that’s led to a decline in the number of people wanting to officiate.
As more time went by, he also realized that officiating was something he’d might like to do.
“When I was covering track, I’d notice the officials working there and thought it was something I’d like to get involved with,” he said.
From that first idea, he got in touch with Charlie Roche, a veteran track and field officiating administrator, and also a long-time football coach. He knew Roche on both levels from his decades of work as a reporter.
“He told me everything I needed to do, which involved taking a class and passing a written test,” Davidove said. “And it went from there.”
He passed the test and started working meets. From that, his officiating work grew even more active.
“Then it snowballed,” he said. “I would talk to other officials who also work other sports, and that gave me the idea to do more.”
Several years later, Davidove now also works volleyball, tennis, swimming, and as a football clock operator. Each sport requires some classroom work and a written test, but with solid attendance and proper studying, it was nothing he found overwhelming. And after getting his certification, his years as a sports writer had also made him familiar with what goes on procedurally at a game or meet in each.
And now that his main job is working as a school aide and sports writing is something he’ll only do occasionally, officiating is something that offers a flexible schedule and favorable hours while allowing him to stay very much involved in high school sports.
“You get to be around the kids, the coaches and also the fellow officials,” Davidove said. “It’s really a lot of fun. It’s not like working in a store or someplace. You’re out, and you’re around people.”
Officiating is something he’d definitely recommend to anyone thinking about it.
“I’d be going out to watch events anyway,” Davidove said. “And officiating is rewarding, there’s camaraderie with fellow officials as well as with the coaches and the players, and it’s a great way to keep busy and stay involved in sports.”
Even though he works multiple sports in the same season, it’s also easy to manage a schedule.
“It’s very easy to do, as long as you plan ahead,” he said.
Like his fellow officials from around the state, he’s also happy that the NJSIAA, through the input of its 31 Student Ambassadors, has made the week of Oct. 14-20 Officials Appreciation Week. Similar weeks will take place during the winter and spring seasons.
“It’s great that officials are being recognized,” Davidove said. “Officials are often maligned, and I’ve heard a lot of it more and more over the years at high school events. Sometimes you do make a mistake, but everyone is always trying their best. It’s nice that they are being acknowledged and appreciated by the teams and schools for what they do.”
Are you interested in becoming a high school sports official? Click the link below for information on how to get involved: