Valentine returns to help grow and improve OVAC basketball officiating
TRIADELPHIA – Whether it’s on the basketball court or in a meeting room at the Highlands Sports Complex, Ted Valentine has the ability to command the room.
Case in point was Saturday when he spoke to more than 40 area basketball officials to tip off the inaugural Ohio Valley Referee Camp, which was organized by recently hired OVAC Basketball Commissioner Doug Costain.
“(The officials) at the camp called me sir, and I quickly told them, ‘my dad was sir and he was a military guy,'” Valentine said. “I am grateful and honored, but I don’t look at any (official) any differently. I see them as equal. Just because I got to where I am, it doesn’t mean I can’t come off the mountain to pull someone up on the mountain with me.”
Valentine – who is a 1976 graduate of John Marshall High School – got his officiating start working prep games in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. Since entering the collegiate ranks, he’s worked 10 Final Fours and 28 NCAA Tournaments.
When he takes a step back and reflects, or gets a chance to come back to the Ohio Valley, Valentine immediately thinks about the people who helped him get his start. Guys like his high school baseball coach and long-time basketball official Bob Montgomery or former Wheeling Recreation Director Tom Bechtel, who Valentine once begged to allow him to officiate junior high games before he was truly certified, come to mind quickly.
Valentine and Wheeling native Tony Chiazza, who has also ascended to the Division I officiating ranks and has worked annually in the NCAA Tournament, were two of the clinicians and evaluators at the camp, which saw the officials work ‘The Shootout in the Valley’ which was formerly known as the Wheeling Recreation Shootout.
“I think we need to bring OVAC (officiating) back to the level it once was,” Valentine said. “We used to have a super status where we’d have three, four or five officials working the state tournament.”
From what he saw, Valentine believes progress is and will continue to be made.
“The faces of the officials are a lot happier, they’re pulling together and people were anxious to learn,” Valentine said. “It’s our job to get them on the same page and try to teach them, so they can help take the game forward.”
All told, Valentine worked six seasons at the high school level before going to a camp where he was basically discovered. He believes other area officials could reach the next level, but they have to be committed to the process.
“We’re trying to get them the basics, teach them some things and then let them go out and showcase their talent,” Valentine said. “They’re going to have to go outside the tri-state area and show people they know how to officiate high school basketball.”
Regardless of the sport, there is a shortage of officials across the country. It’s rearing its ugly head in the Ohio Valley, too. Valentine is certainly aware of some of the antics that have transpired to garner national media attention.
“I think with the things I’ve seen and some of the violence that’s taken place, it makes people a little leary and shy about getting involved,” Valentine said. “In a way, I really can’t blame them because it’s a different world. But, I would say, if they have a passion for it in their heart, don’t let anything stop you from getting involved.”
Valentine, 63, has been a college basketball official for 40 seasons. Though he remains in tremendous shape, he’s not reluctant to the fact that at some point his career in stripes is going to come to an end.
“I am going to stay (as an official) for as long as I want to stay,” Valentine said. “I am not retiring. I can still run and I can still outwork a lot of young people. I’ll know when it’s time, and right now, it’s not even close to that time.”
Whenever that may be, Valentine won’t be turning his back on the sport. He actually has considered going more into the teaching side, but his future plans run deeper, actually.
“I would like to teach, but I don’t know if that’s on the map for me or not,” Valentine said. “I would like to change the culture of college-basketball (officiating). When you’re a teacher and coach and you learn from the best, you’d like to do your part to give back. If that’s in the cards or me, great! If not? I’ll find something else to do.”
Whether or not tutoring officials remains in the cards for Valentine is yet to be determined, but he does plan to attend the Ohio Valley Referee Camp yearly.
“It takes others to get you to where you’ve gotten, and I firmly believe that if you don’t come back, you can’t continue to go forward,” Valentine said. “I was taught very, very well by my mother and grandmother to always give back.”