Since 1997, Seymour resident Ed Jones has refereed.
This season is Jones’ eighth year of officiating in the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s postseason.
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“I’ve worked at the state level in the past,” Jones said. “This is my eighth year working in the tournament. You start out as an assistant at a sectional, and you can’t move forward until the following year. I have been a starter/referee at the regional diving and as high as the state meet.”
To qualify as a postseason referee or starter, you must meet a number of criteria.
“There is a three-position rotation at the state meet decided by the schools, athletics directors, etc.,” Jones said. “ One of the things they look at is years of service, but lots of things go into it. Once you’re chosen into the rotation, there’s three positions — assistant starter, diving referee and timer.”
This postseason, Jones plans to act as a referee/starter at the Floyd Central girls sectional. On Feb. 24, he will be the diving referee at the regional at Bloomington North High School.
“Most of the officials at the state level do it because we love the sport,” Jones said. “It’s an opportunity for us to be at the state meet, serve the kids.”
Swimming has become a major part of Jones’ life.
“I was a swimmer in high school,” Jones said. “My girls were both swimmers, so when they became involved, I decided it was a lot better poolside than sitting in the stands. I love the sport. I have a passion for it.”
As a diving referee, Jones manages the whole completion, serving as a rules interpreter.
“If a dive isn’t complete, a failed dive, the referee has to make that call,” Jones said. “When we do dual meets, regionals or state level, we also serve as judges at the judging panel.”
Throughout the season, Jones officiates at a number of schools.
“I try to stay close,” Jones said. “Usually, I go to Seymour, Jennings County and a few Madison meets. I have done some at Jeffersonville. I don’t do a lot (at Jeffersonville) now because they have someone down there, but I pretty much stay within the Hoosier Hills Conference.”
In the winter months, Jones balances a full-time job, an alpaca farm and refereeing.
“(February) is my busiest month,” Jones said. “We never really know where the IHSAA is going to be. They usually keep us within an hour drive. I think the furthest I’ve gone is Jasper. It gets a little hectic during tournament time balancing swimming, barn duties and work.”
In his 18th season, Jones has no plans of slowing down.
“I enjoy it, and as long as my body and wife let me do it, I will probably keep doing it,” Jones said. “So far, everything is holding up, so we will see year by year how it goes. There are guys that have been doing this longer than me who are still going. I have to mention Brian Fouts. He’s been doing it a lot longer than me for Seymour.”
The IHSAA is looking for more swimming officials. Information can be found at ihsaa.org.
“Everybody thinks about your wintertime sports, and it’s basketball,” Jones said. “Swimming isn’t one who people think about too much. We would like to put a call out to anyone who wants to referee. There’s a shortage of officials in what we call the ‘minor sports.’ I know the IHSAA is looking for people. If you enjoy the sport, it’s better than sitting in the stands.”
“My girls were both swimmers, so when they became involved, I decided it was a lot better poolside than sitting in the stands. I love the sport. I have a passion for it,” Ed Jones said.