There are a lot of requirements for becoming a high school basketball referee that begin with a two-year course and passing related written and practical tests. For Jerry Adkins of New Martinsville, the hard work involved on that path led to an opportunity to officiate in his first state tournament, last week at the Charleston Civic Center.
Jerry enrolled in a course I taught for the West Virginia Secondary Activities Commission at West Virginia Northern Community College in New Martinsville. Marty Carder and Roger Kimble also took the course. At the time, Adkins was a father and a fan, watching kids play ball at New Martinsville Middle School in the Charlie Morris Grasshopper League of which I was commissioner.
Adkins was attentive and participated class and performed very well on the test. On the court, he did an exceptional job with the young ones. He had a knack of always being in the right spot at the right time. He then went on to take a class required by the OVAC in order to officiate in the conference. That class was taught by Jeff Miller and John Artimez.
After completing that course, Adkins worked with Larry Sine, Bob Cain, Terry Blake, and the living legend, Bob Montgomery. Those four guys helped mold Adkins into a fine referee, with plenty of opportunities to work with other fine officials.
Basketball referees must be in good condition to move well on the court and to get into positions to make the call. They also must be sensitive about travel times and mileage to games. Fatigue is a factor in slowing down reaction time. Good officiating also requires good instincts in a very fast-paced sport. In addition, it means trusting one's partners to do their job too.
It didn't take Adkins long for him to do that, as most officials never get the chance to work a state tournament. But a few weeks ago Adkins received a letter from the SSAC informing him that he had been selected to officiate in the girls' state tournament.
Of course, feeling that I was a part in his career, I took off to watch Adkins work with two other OVAC officials. I was proud as can be. In his first game at the civic center, he worked the class-AAA Robert C. Byrd-Bridgeport game. The following day, Thursday, he officiated in the class-AA Tucker County-Williams-town contest, and Friday he and his crew did the Greenbrier East-George Washington game.
In developing this story, Adkins was quick to mention the help he received from many officials known well in this area. Of course, Bob Montgomery of Moundsville. Also helping Adkins navigate were veteran refs Terry Blake, also of Moundsville; Bob Cain of Hannibal; Larry Sine of Paden City; and Jeff Miller and John Artimez of Wheeling. I also worked with Adkins and he thanked me for getting him started. In addition to tactical and strategic help, he appreciates the camaraderie of the many different officials with whom he has worked.
He also told me a few stories that I never knew about. One was about a very memorable game when he was working a girls' regional final game with Weir and Ravenswood at the Pit in Ravenswood. As he relates events, the atmosphere was tense and full of expectations from both schools' fans.
"I started out with good people who mentored me, took me under their wing, and it has now paid off," Adkins commented. "I have many many people to thank."
Adkins graduated in 1976 from Magnolia High School, where he played basketball until his senior season when he blew out his knee. He never thought that he would ever get back on the court again, but I'm so glad he did.
He still works five or six games a week and, on many Sundays, attends conference or state officials' meetings. He readily acknowledges that nothing would have been possible without the abiding support of his wife, Joan, and his two wonderful children, Trent and Ashley.
Over the years, Jerry has worked with hundreds of referees and different levels, including NCAA officials Kevin Pethtel of Hundred, Warren Baker, and Jeremy Bodkin. He also thanks former Valley High School Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Larry Weekley for giving him his first varsity game. Weekley also promoted Adkins for his first sectional game, which he now officiates every year.
Adkins also has very nice words for former Hundred Lady Hornet Coach Mike Ray, who, with Weekley, he described as "ultimate coaches." They were not only good with their players, he says, but they never criticized the officiating. "They might have asked a question," Adkins smiled, "but they never, ever yelled at or criticized a referee. I wish there were more coaches like them."