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Two local officials heading to OHSAA HOF

Local sports official John Vicarel and the late Michael Vaschak will be inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials Hall of Fame in June. The two men from Boardman are among the 15 who will have the honors this year.

While most inductees are known for officiating two or three sports, Vicarel is known for officiating football, soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball and baseball.

“It is rare for an official to actively officiate five sports,” said Tyler Brooks, Director of Officiating and Sport Management for the OHSAA. “John officiated soccer for 13 years, but has not been active in it since (1998).”

Each of the 15 inductees is being honored for outstanding officiating careers and significant contributions to interscholastic officiating in Ohio. More information on the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame is posted at: http://www.ohsaa.org/Officiating/HOF

“In addition to being outstanding officials in their chosen sports, these 15 individuals have mentored countless other officials along the way,” said Beau Rugg, OHSAA Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management and himself a member of the Hall of Fame. “Officiating is a service to student-athletes, coaches, schools and other officials, and it is a joy to recognize these highly respected individuals with induction into the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame.”

While Vicarel is still working actively in football, volleyball, basketball and softball, he hasn’t been active in soccer or baseball. He is still certified in those sports however.

“Sports has always been a big interest of mine,” Vicarel said. “Working games is a great was to stay involved. I didn’t know it at the time, (but) it all began back in the mid-70s. It has been a wonderful experience being on the field and court with all the players and coaches. Well maybe not all the coaches but definitely all the players. I think that is one of the key components to officiating is the interaction with the participants.”

Vicarel started his officiating career in football right after graduating high school, then got involved in volleyball shortly after. He said his father ran a fast pitch softball league in the mid 1960s that got him going in another direction. He served as a batboy on a college crew with an official named Tony Montana. It was Montana who encouraged Vicarel to get involved in softball officiating.

“That happened deep into my football career,” Vicarel said. “Several years after that, to complete the cycle of doing some type of game all year round, and with the help of Tony’s brother Pat, my basketball officiating career began.”

Most of his officiating life has been spent on the high school fields and gyms, but he did get in 30 years of college football work. He did one year of indoor semi-pro football.

As for his nomination and upcoming induction, Vicarel said he is humbled.

“I tell people all the time that we are sports officials who work games,” he said. “Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is not something you can plan for. For me it is incredibly humbling especially looking at the body of work accomplished by officials before me that were inducted. It is such a great honor to be a part of this amazing group.”

While inductee Michael Vaschek of Boardman is deceased, Vicarel di have the opportunity to know him and to work with him.

“Mike and I worked some football and volleyball together,” Vicarel said. “He was one of the best basketball officials this area has ever produced. I can remember watching him work long before I began doing basketball. It was always something to behold the way he conducted himself and worked the game. Smooth and in control is the best way I can describe it. I had the pleasure of working exactly one high school varsity game with Mike. To him I’m sure it was a game like many in his career. To me it was the highlight of my basketball officiating career. The lead changed hands all through the game. Neither team was ahead by more than six points all night. Both teams scored over 70 points. When it was over, I thought I worked a Final Four game. Mike and I had a good laugh about that over the years. I am honored to have been on the court with him in his element.”

Vicarel and Vaschek will join 13 other inductees for the June ceremony this year.

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