‘The five of us travel together. It’s like a brotherhood,” says Tommy Brush, a weekday attorney and weekend football referee. “There is nothing better than being with your fellow officials.”
That’s a sentiment shared by Brush’s four fellow refs. The group is known as “the road crew” because its reach extends farther than other high school football officials. Brush, 57, is assistant director of District 8, which encompasses the lower, coastal part of the state; his brother, Steve Brush, 59, is director.
“We’re a little bit different than the normal guys,” says Hank Welch, a sales rep for Carolina Shelving and Mirror. “We go just about everywhere. We were in Clinton last week, Bluffton this week, we’ll be at Wando after that. We’ve been to Due West, Newberry, Columbia. ... Tommy’s got a big motor home. We know all the barbecue places all around. We like to sit around and eat and talk after the game, figure out who had the most flags.”
The Brush brothers and 59-year-old Welch are joined by John Peek, 53, and Luther Brown, the youngest at 42. Steve Brush is a contractor. Peek is a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie and a retired parole officer. Brown is an active probation and parole officer.
They work varsity, junior varsity and B-team games, and they have 107 years of football officiating experience among them. Peek estimates they spend 10-15 hours a week on the field or near it during the football season. Each spring, they attend weekly football classes together and prepare for a July recertification test. Most played the game as kids and young adults and like officiating because it keeps them involved in a sport they love.
Newspapers interview coaches and players, of course. And they report controversial calls that sometimes prompt a public outcry. But rarely are the referees themselves given a chance to share their perspectives or voice their thoughts.
So The Post and Courier posed a set of questions to these five refs. Read their answers in the related content links.