From the fans in the stands to the players on the field.. the passion for the game of football is strong within a community..
This same passion is what inspires many men to step up and be apart of the game in a different way.... making the calls and keeping it fair.. as a referee.
Keith Schoby said, "It's a way to compete so to speak as your always trying to be the best and improve yourself and your performance and its a great way to stay close to the game of football."
R.C. Velasquez said, "I was looking for something to do in the off time and was fortunate to work with a couple guys who have been officiating. I got recruited. Giving the opportunity I absolutely jumped on it, obviously at my size I wasn't going to play college football, but I did fall in love with the sport, and so having the ability to go out there and still be apart of the game was what it was all about for me."
Being an official is about more than just about the game, though.
Lee Grace said, "You create friendships that last your entire life. You know you meet guys.. my crew meets for dinner once a month. There's a lot of retired officials that meet for coffee every Saturday. You really become like a fraternity in a way. Its a great organization to be apart of... to be involved in the games.. you get to know the coaches and of course you see players grow up and play and move on."
The coin toss is a crucial part in the start of any game.... Every official carries a coin they use in the games they officiate. These coins often carry stories of their own.
R.C. Velasquez said, "I spent 20 years active duty in the Air Force and its just one of those things... It was the first unit I was assigned to. Its where I started my career in the military and where I finished my career in the military and so Ive used the same coin for as long as I can remember."
Dave Yonts said, "One of our officials who couldn't be here tonight gave me his coin and what it is is.. his step father back in '04 attended a rally for George H. W. Bush. And at this rally he went up to him and they talked for a little while and he presented him with a presidential air force one coin."
Dave Yonts also carries a coin with meaning.. Yonts worked as an officer at the Wichita County Jail. He retired in 2011 and carries a coin in remembrance of the five Dallas police officers killed on July 7th, 2016.
Lee Grace said, "I was born in the early fifties so my coin is an Eisenhower dollar and I always have fun with Jr. High, Freshman, and JV captains when we get together for the coin toss. I show them the coin and ask if any of them know who Eisenhower was and normally none of them have a clue who he was so.."
The coins hold memories... stories... and become even more meaningful with time.
R.C. Velasquez said, "Its something I carry that remind me of the things I have done in my past and people that Ive known and games that Ive called now.. and so its grown from where its started for sure."
The love of the game and camaraderie of a team go way beyond the football field... and the memories made in the name of the game last a lifetime.
For more information on becoming a football official in North Texas please click here.