What the refs say: Hank Welch

Wade Spees/staff High school football referee Hank Welch.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A:The camaraderie with people I work with. I played football in high school, and this is just a way to keep involved in the game. Being with the guys and being out there with the boys (is the best part). I get a year older every year, but the boys stay the same age.

Q: What’s the worst part of your job?

A:The rules are different from Friday night to Saturday to Sunday. People don’t understand. (They) try to put NFL rules with high school games and expect them to be the same. And it’s not.

Q: What’s the best thing that ever happened to you on the field?

A: I’ve done a number of state championship games. They’re all special. ... The atmosphere before the games, and during the games, it’s just special to be out there.

Q: What’s the worst thing that happened?

A: I got knocked out at Goose Creek (two years ago), had to sit out six or eight plays — I don’t know how many it was. I was marking a spot and got pushed by the defensive end. His back hit me in the chest. Luckily, the trainer for Goose Creek was right behind me. You’ve got to be careful, very careful out there. The kids are getting real big, and real fast — and I’m getting older.

Q: Describe your relationship with parents and spectators.

A:It’s not like a basketball game, where they’re right there. In football, most everybody watches the ball. They see the obvious, but they don’t always see the stuff that we call. There is no banter. We don’t talk to spectators; we don’t talk to parents. At church, sometimes I explain the game. But I never try to explain another official’s call. I’d say I have a good relationship with them. When you make a call in a ball game, 50 percent of the people are going to hate you, 50 percent are going to love you. I don’t have a vested interest in the game, the parents and fans do, and that’s what I’ve got to consider.

Q: Describe your relationship with players.

A: We have to take a position of authority with the players ... and stress sportsmanship. We strongly discourage talking between teams (offense and defense). If we see a game getting out of control, we stop it and say, “Hey, guys, we aren’t going to tolerate this.” Coaches often say they will help. “Tell me if players start talking,” they say. During scrimmages before the season starts, if I see something, I’ll say, “Come here, coach, watch this guy.”