Ever wanted to be a canary? How about a zebra?
Well, a few years back, Ed Navarro of Wenatchee and Steve Simonson of Cashmere made the decision to become such creatures.
Steve in 1980 and Ed about 10 years ago, added a striped black and white shirt — in Steve’s case and a yellow one for Ed — to their wardrobe on a semi-permanent basis.
They became referees, with Ed reffing soccer games and Steve basketball games.
Steve, a teacher in Cashmere, just thought it would be a cool part time job back then. He was 19 and had enrolled at Wenatchee Valley College, when a WVC coach who reffed on the side asked his team whether anyone might want to give the zebra shirt a try. Never did he think he would be at it after 40 years.
“I kind of fell in love with it,” Steve said, later adding, “I just went from one season to the next.”
The love of the game, coupled with the ability to help people and the chance to be part of a team, all drew Steve to keep trotting up and down the hardwood.
Ed got the reffing bug while coaching his children’s rec games and seeing that the refs were few and far between.
“I could see the need for more referees,” Ed said. “Everywhere you went.”
He liked getting exercise watching the sport he loved, and the paycheck — modest as it may be — did not hurt. He went from rec games to high school and college games all around the Northwest.
In addition to reffing for college and high school, Steve and Ed have served as mentors to several refs. Steve serves on executive committee of the Washington Officials Association and counts among his onetime mentees Quincy’s Nate Harris, last seen calling some pretty big-time games at the NCAA Division 1 level in basketball.
Steve refs mostly boys’ games, with some girls’ games sprinkled in. There’s no difference in his approach to either game, he said.
“A block is a block, a foul is a foul and a travel is a travel,” he said.
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