A ref, a coach, more importantly, a father

photo credit - Amy Eddy

I make absolutely no claims to have known Calvin Hiatt better than many reading this. In fact, I would run into Calvin only sporadically, almost always in a sports-related function. With that being said, I knew three Calvins.

The first Calvin was the striped zebra on the field. Possessing media credentials, much of the game is spent standing feet away from officials. Over seasons of doing this, you become friendly with this group, usually talking about where to eat in some strange town or how long it took to drive to the game.

Last season, Calvin and I both spent a few days in Baker for the 1A basketball playoffs. We talked about the usual things-where staying, how many games he officiated compared to how many games I covered and how this non-OSAA tournament was going due to the work of Buell Gonzales and the many teams involved. We compared notes on teams and made predictions on who would win.

This season, Calvin was feet away from me on more than a few games. For one middle school game, he bullied me into running chains, a chore that showed how old I truly am becoming.

For those in the stands, officials are blind, biased and stupid to the rules. For me standing feet away, you hear men like Calvin telling a player what a nice play just occurred. You hear Calvin and a player kid about a foul called with the player admitting it was the right call. You hear Calvin asking a player if the injury from the last game is feeling better. You hear me kidding Calvin about a bad call and him kidding me back about lousy pictures. That is the Calvin you don’t know from the stands.

Calvin took the time during games to explain the game to young athletes still learning. That was one of his greatest attributes.

The second Calvin I knew was a coach. He coached numerous youth teams, including a team my son was trying. Coaching little kids was Calvin’s passion. Teaching little ones the fundamentals without allowing the urge to win override compassion was Calvin’s gift.

The third, and most important Calvin I knew was the father. Both Calvin and I have sons the same age, both competitors and both hate finishing second. Our sons were the two lone competitors at a track meet over the summer. Both competed in two races and the Hiatt overcame the Braese. Calvin made a point to come over and speak with me, congratulating me on my son’s races and how the two would meet many times in the future. Calvin will now never see those future races.

Calvin passed away in a vehicle accident last week. On Monday, many will gather to support Jessica and the kids during Calvin’s funeral. Tears will be shed, kind words will be offered and the athletic community will come together along with many others. However, thinking back on discussions with all three Calvins I knew, I believe Calvin would want just a few extra things from those in attendance.

  • Support your kids in whatever they are doing. Praise them when they do it correctly and guide them when they falter by explaining how they can do it better. Become Calvin the teacher, coach.
  •  Like Calvin did, become involved in a child’s life. Offer to coach, offer to fund raise, offer to give a kid a ride to practice. Be what Calvin was to so many.
  • Many times, it is damn easy to complain about the officials from the stands. If you truly feel the present officials are the scourge of the earth, get off the risers and fill Calvin’s empty zebra shirt. I am sure Calvin would have loved to have the help on the field with him.