SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Sullivan’s Jay Slater has been named the 2020 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Ray Gardner Award Winner. The honor goes to a game official every year.
Slater has spent 34 seasons as an official, but this year might be the toughest.
Slater says,”My wife has always she regrets the day I’m going to retire from officiating because what am I going to do with my spare time? Well, here’s a perfect example right now. We are out of work right now because of the virus, can’t umpire any baseball, can’t come home and watch any sports on TV and this year we had a couple of new guys that were going to be umpiring that I was going to mentor, and now those guys are put on hold for another year, so I hope and pray guys still want to do that next year, because baseball is like every other sport we are hurting for officials.”
The virus could have a lasting impact on officials all over state.
Slater says,”I think where it’s going to hurt us the most is we are not able to meet with them and go over things such as rule books. Here’s what you do on the basketball floor or baseball field as positions. You can know a lot by the book, but where to be in situations is taken away from us right now because we can’t be out there with them.”
Which makes Jay’s career even more impressive, calling the state finals for baseball, basketball, and football.
“I’ve been very lucky that my wife Cindy, has supported me ever since I started. If you don’t have the support from your family to be gone a lot, that’s everything. I try to tell that to the younger guys especially in baseball starting out. You control your schedule. You can turn games down, you can set games, but you also have to make time for your family. With this virus going on, it’s really opened up everyone’s eyes to that and it’s given you more opportunity to be at home with your family, grand kids, and do different things that we normally wouldn’t be doing. We would be out doing baseball today.”
The Shakamak graduate has a heavy heart for all of the seniors missing out on their final seasons.
“Everybody knows how big Shakamak is in baseball. I just look at it like what if that had been taken away from me as a senior and that’s what breaks my heart is all these seniors whether they are playing baseball, basketball, whatever. As officials, hopefully we have an opportunity to get back on the road and get going. These seniors, this is their last shot, you don’t have another chance to do this. I cannot fathom what they are thinking.”