Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ed Hightower

I remember being quite young and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play basketball on TV. It seemed that every game "Ed Hightower" was officiating. Today I'm trying to catch Duke vs. George Washington on TV--and again, Ed Hightower is one of the officials. I decided to look up a little bit of info on him. Here are some of his basketball accomplishments:

  • Worked seven consecutive NCAA Final Four tournaments from 1988 to 1994 and again in 1996 and 2002
  • Naismith Division I Men’s College Basketball Official of the Year (1992)
  • National Association of Sports Officials’ Gold Whistle Award (1995)
  • Inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (1998)

But he is also firmly community to public education. He once turned down an offer to be an NBA ref in order to focus on his job as district superintendent. Here are some of his roles and recognitions:

  • Superintendent of the Edwardsville (Illinois) Community Unit School District #7
  • Illinois Principal of the Year Award (1993)
  • National Distinguished Principal’s Award (1993)
  • Master’s and specialist’s degrees from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville
  • Doctorate in education administration from St. Louis University

I used to think that refereeing was fairly easy--you just call 'em like you see 'em. That's until I did some volunteer officiating during high school. (For those Chicago Bulls fans out there, I refereed some games in which Kirk Heinrich played when Kirk was in 8th grade--his dad was my high school coach.) Anyway, I quickly discovered that it is extremely difficult. You receive no praise for doing well and lots of viciousness when you do poorly!

So during this "road to the Final Four," hats off to Ed Hightower for serving college basketball so well and fulfilling his vocation with consistency and excellence.