BROOKINGS – Terry Duffy, a Brookings native, was one of six contest officials to be honored with the South Dakota High School Activities Association Distinguished Service Award.
“It gives me a sense of accomplishment,” said Duffy. “I don’t do it for recognition, you do it because you love the game, interacting with the students, the kids and fellow officials.”
There were 14 people total that were honored by the SDHSAA. This award is to show the commitment and longevity that certain people have showcased in South Dakota high school activities. The award was established by the SDHSSA back in 1976 with the first awards presented at the 1977 state basketball tournaments.
The awards are given to administrators, directors, coaches and officials recognized for outstanding service to the youth of the state through various high school activities programs. The schools nominate candidates with final selections being made by the Board of Directors.
Entering his 35th year of officiating, Duffy said his uncle was the one that originally got him interested in becoming an official. Next would be his brother Gary, who started officiating about six years before him.
Refereeing volleyball, football and basketball Duffy, has witnessed a lot of great high school sports moments in his life.
“There are many but the one that sticks out the most in my mind as far as football is the state championship matchup between Howard and Wolsey-Wessington,” said Duffy. “It was a very competitive game and close all the way between two very good teams. It wasn’t finalized until late in the fourth quarter.”
Playing in any state tournament or game is what any athlete could want. The same goes for officials that want to be on the biggest stage as well.
“Anyone that officiates, that’s their main priority is to work a state tournament,” Duffy said.
Many of the kids playing in a state tournament are nervous and the same goes with the officials. Duffy said when the game starts the nerves go away and the adrenaline rush kicks in because of the large crowds.
“The fans are into it and they react to every call and play,” Duffy said. “It makes for a fun experience.”
Back in 1996, Duffy was awarded Active Officials Award (AOA) for volleyball. This award is for officials that are National Federation Officials Association members and exemplify the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct and moral character.
Pete Entringer, also an AOA winner for boys basketball and long-time partner with Duffy, said, “He’s very patient with good judgment and he gets along well with the kids. He knows how to handle every situation and very seldom gets flustered when he’s out there officiating.”
Duffy acknowledges that the best part of officiating is the relationships and bonds created through high school athletics.
“Even the kids, quite frankly the game is all about the kids and for the most part we rarely have issues with the kids,” said Duffy. “They’re out there to play the game and hopefully have a favorable experience.”
If anyone knows the hardest part about being an official is dealing with angry parents. Duffy said that over the years he has been able to block out all the noise.
“I’d rather see a gym filled because then it’s just a collective roar; when you got a sparsely populated gym, you hear every idiot up in the stands,” Duffy said with a smile. “You learn to tune them out, occasionally when someone is getting obnoxious I’ll turn and look at him and that pretty much shuts them up.”
Duffy admitted that every year it gets a little bit tougher as he gets older. Right now, the plan would be to go another 5-10 years.
“Kids don’t seem to get any slower,” he said with a laugh. “They get bigger, faster, stronger every year it seems like – or maybe it’s me getting older and slower.”
With the consistent running up and down the court, Duffy said that basketball is the most physically demanding sport, followed by football. In volleyball, he could go a little bit longer.
It appears that Duffy has no plans yet to retire from officiating. The Distinguished Service Award shows the longevity and dedication that he has put into officiating; his peers also recognized his work.
“He’s contributed a lot to the officiating world,” said Entringer. “He’s given many years back to the high school activities association, he’s well deserving of this award.”