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By Staff | Nov 14, 2018

Sportsmanship is one of the top qualities a high school coach and players can ever exhibit. Winning is always the fine part of sports participation, but winning is not always possible. Sportsmanship, however, is! During the past two weeks I have watched 42 sets of high school volleyball, including the state playoffs. The character of the fans, coaches, and players has been nearly as good as the games themselves.

During this season I have watched over 60 matches and 195 sets. Now that’s a lot of volleyball action! I don’t claim to be an expert on the game; I have never been a coach. I was an official for a few years but soon found out running for office isn’t the only place for politics. I would think when you put everything on the line as athletes, and have made it to the state tournament, you would at least be afforded the privilege of having the best officials in the state, the ones who really know the rules and enforce them correctly and fair. I would think you would have officials who respect the amount of time players have put in to advance to the event.

I would think you would have officials who respect the coaches and allow time for discussion when controversy happens. There were some great volleyball matches in all three classes Friday and Saturday. From what I saw, the officiating was very good. It’s extremely hard for spectators to see some of the things which occur during a match. The officials are close to the action and are positioned to see the net, the lines and other rules and infractions. Depending on where you are sitting, you will hardly ever be able to see every call correctly. That’s why they assign four officials to each match.

The officials in our local area did a tremendous job this season, and it would have been nice to have had a couple more from our local board work the state tournament. My biggest complaint with volleyball officials is with the way they way they handle situations when a call is missed or a mistake is made. I have witnessed on numerous occasions when a head official on the stand refuses to change an apparent bad line call or tipped ball. I also witnessed several lack of calls when players were in the net, and often the wrong team is called. Although these are mostly judgment calls, the coach by rule has little chance to argue the call, so they just play on. This is unfair to the athletes who work so hard to get to the event and then are eliminated by a judgment call.

I believe they need to take a look at how they handle situations. Granted, officials need respect, and they need to keep things under control, but there is a fine line between control and dictating. There has to be a way for the coach to argue his point without being ignored, without being given a penalty flag, or without being told to set down. I saw at least three matches that could have gone the other way because of controversial calls. The championship match between Magnolia and Tyler Consolidated was the best officiated match of the whole tournament.

Overall, if I was grading the tournament officiating as a whole on a scale of 1-10 it would be an eight.

The Silver Knights kept every volleyball fan in Tyler County excited the whole season. They didn’t win the championship, which was their ultimate goal, but runners-up – in a field of teams as talented as this year’s – is nothing to be ashamed of. These girls played their hearts out all year long.

Even with all of this, the sportsmanship has been great this year. Of the 60 matches I watched, there was only one major problem, and it was quickly taken care of. That demonstrates great sportsmanship and discipline from the coaches, players, parents and fans.

The most consistent and best volleyball officiating I’ve seen is from the officials in this part of the state, when they work together as a team. That could be a good way to choose the state officials. Use the officials in teams from boards. It would sure be more consistent.

The Tyler Consolidated Silver Knights football team ended its season in the first round of the playoffs at Brooke High School against the number one ranked Class A team Wheeling Central. Silver Knights Coach Ryan Walton, his staff, and players can be proud of a great season. This was an undersized team, a team low in numbers but big in spirit, a team who never gave up despite having the odds stacked against them week after week. All of Tyler County should be proud of this fine group of athletes and their coaching staff. They are a class act.

It’s always a good trip to Charleston for a state tournament event. One of the best times is when the best athletes from all over the state, girls and boys, play in the state basketball tournament. However, the past several years the crowds have became smaller and smaller. I remember the time when you might have to sleep in your car because of lack of rooms. The civic center would be filled, and the ushers were always checking tickets to see if you were in the right seat.

That hasn’t been the case lately, but this season’s volleyball tournament brought out a nice crowd, and it was very loud as each team had great fan support. We need more of that! When the kids get their schools, communities and fan base behind them, they always work harder to make everyone proud.

I am a little disappointed so far with the Mountaineers’ basketball team. I hope they put on a better show at the Myrtle Beach Invitational, starting tomorrow. From what I’m told, the place only holds about 3,000 people and is completely sold out. My guess would be the majority of those will be West Virginia fans. It’s a good way to get a mini-vacation a week before Thanksgiving and watch Huggins and the Mountaineers come home as winners. There’s a lot of WVU transplants living down in the area, so put on the Gold and Blue and join in the fun. Let’s go Mountaineers! eparsons@tylerstarnews.com