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OHIO VALLEY UNSUNG HEROES: Ogilbee is a very busy person

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Wayne Ogilbee is truly a man for all seasons.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Like many prep sports officials, Ogilbee has decided to branch out into multiple sports.

After working for years solely in basketball, Ogilbee, for the last 12 years, has added volleyball and softball officiating to his repertoire. Along the way, he’s added the role of teacher, too. Ogilbee now serves as a someone who younger officials can look up to.

Take volleyball, for example.

Like other high school sports, volleyball is in need of new officials — not just at the varsity level, but at all levels.

On any given evening throughout the Ohio Valley during, say, September, there are many matches taking place from varsity down to junior high. With dwindling numbers, Ogilbee decided to take things into his own hands recently by putting together a class to training new arbiters.

“I’ve been recruiting a lot of basketball officials to become volleyball officials, and we’ve been pretty successful at it,” said Ogilbee, who also doubles as the assigner for area matches. “I have several (officials) that have come across and have picked up volleyball.”

Things have paid off, especially at the lower levels.

“It used to be we could only have one official at a junior high match, and now we’re trying to get two people out at every junior high match because we’re trying to better prepare them to become an R1 and an R2 at the varsity level. When you’re out there by yourself, you don’t get the training necessary that’s necessary in order to move up.”

Ogilbee is well-respected throughout the area, so he was able to persuade some of his peers to join him in wearing the white shirts this fall. He said more are on the way.

“I’ve got some more names to call again this year to keep recruiting,” he added, “because you know officials are lacking in all of the sports. It’s an ongoing process to get more people involved.

“Our numbers are improving.”

A retired educator who spent most of nearly four decades with St. Clairsville at Ohio County schools, among others, Ogilbee began his officiating career in basketball some 40 years ago. He got involved to have something to do in the winter. It’s become a cherished vocation, one that’s inspired him and cultivated friendships with athletes, coaches and fellow administrators.

“I wish I could remember all the coaches I’ve come into contact with through the years and all the officials I’ve worked games with. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them really well.

“A lot of them have helped me to get where I’m at now and have been my mentors. Now, I’m trying to return the favor and be a mentor to the younger people. It’s an ongoing process. As a 40-year vet, you’re still always trying to self-improve, always trying to get a little better and not make the same mistakes over and over.

“But, that’s me.”

Ogilbee wishes he would’ve picked up softball and volleyball — where his wife, Kim, also officiates– sooner.

“I love it,” he said. “I love sports. I love being around athletics. For me, it’s very interesting.”

And, it’s now fun to give back, just like former officials gave to him during his career.

“It’s rewarding to go through and teach younger people all the proper procedures and protocols of a volleyball match,” he said. “We’re always providing our expertise in whatever way we can to other officials.”

If you know of someone in sports in the Ohio Valley whom I could feature as an Ohio Valley Unsung Hero, drop me a line at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com or via Twitter @RickThorp1

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