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Whistling Zebra


Northern Officials Association
Fall 2010 Edition    11/15/10
Jerry Blum --Editor
(847) 438-2231

Welcome to the FALL edition of the Whistling Zebra for the 2009-2010 school year. Please feel free to send me suggestions on how to make this publication work for you.  If there is anything you want to have printed send it to me.

NOA Officers (2010-2012)


Fund Donations- Donations for The Norm Geske Fund, and The Bob Brown Fund can be made any time by writing a check to N O A and sending it to Randy Steen at 2157 N. Dogwood Ln., Palatine Il 6007

Membership Chairman Report- Bruce Ruttenberg
Members your dues are now due for the 2010-2011 school year. Please send your dues to Bruce Ruttenberg, 447 Harmony Dr., Wheeling, Il   60090. Make the check out to NOA.

FB Pix 



From President--- Darrell Schrag

Seven successful football meetings were held this year.  We averaged 32 attendees with attendance  being high at the beginning and tapering off at the end.  We need to find ways to keep the attendance up.  Several members were promoted this year and we were again well represented in the playoffs.  I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the meetings next year.  Please let me know if you have any meeting suggestions or if you would be willing to be a speaker.

Football  Playoff  Officials
1st Round—Jay Rhode, Ron Mohler, Ron Sapochak, Jim Koczersut, Tom Vogan, Mike Babicz, Jerry Blum, Dean Kehr, Jim Kruschwitz, Tom Toman

2nd Round---Jim Bernardi, George Lewerenz, Brian Lewerenz, Doc Wolf, Mike Roseman, Patrick Murphy, Peter Tombasco, John Widmayer, Jerry Eiserman, Pete Merkel, Darrell Schrag, Mike Zuckerman, Tom Lowe, Mark Thompson, Chuck Popp

3rd Round---Peter King, Al Smigiel

Finals--- Dave Butts (7A)

College Playoffs

Peter King worked a game in the NCAA III playoffs in Waverly Iowa. The two teams were Wartburg and Bethel.


President – Troy Whalen  or

Basketball Members:

Once again, we had record attendance this season. Many thanks to our speakers and all members for their participation.  The season goes by fast, but be sure to stay connected via the website and don't hesitate to pass along emails of interest as we all benefit from situations that occur on the floor.

Also, don't forget about NOA Nite Out.  This is a social event (not sponsored by the NOA) and a great networking opportunity for newer officials.  Our gathering place is Pat's Pizza in Grayslake which is located on Route 83.  People usually start showing up around 9PM and we gather on the following Fridays

Friday, December 3rd
Friday, January 7th
Friday, February 4th


Top 15 Lists

Randy Steen
Jerry Blum
Don Swanson
Ron Lorenzo
Rocky Nelson
Allan Smigiel
Darnell Jones
Jerry Ming
Rich Petersen
Steven Gibble
Troy Whalen
Mike Babicz
Robert Miller
Troy Whalen
Phil Schmidt
Kenneth Pink
Tim Robbins
Pete Merkel
Kenneth Pink
Mark Havlic
Ron Lorenzo
Jay Lampel
Mike Babicz
Tom Vogan
Jerry Blum
Ethan Nussbaum
Mark Havlic
Cabrina Williams-Leneau
Bob Selz
Bob Selz

From Mike Babicz
NOA Assignment Chairman

Personal Info-
Please send me any promotions or other information you would like to share with the NOA members

Mike Babicz article from the Lake County Journal

Antioch resident Mike Babicz has been officiating high school football and basketball games at Illinois high schools for the last 35 years. He also is the basketball assignment chairman for the Northern Officials Association. (Colin Selbo –
High school athletes spend hours and hours preparing for game day..Without officials, they would never get the chance to go toe-to-toe with the competition. “Every sport you see requires an official,” said Mike Babicz, a local official and basketball assignment chairman for the Northern Officials Association. For the last 35 years, the Antioch resident has been officiating football and basketball games at Illinois high schools.
As a former athlete in both sports, Babicz know the competitive attitude players and coaches bring to each game. But that does not mean they will always agree with his calls. An official inevitably is going to be put in a position where he is on the receiving end of criticism. But Babicz loves what he does and sees officiating as a way to stay active in the sports he enjoys. Babicz recently went on the record with Lake County Journal reporter Colin Selbo to talk about his experiences officiating high school sports.

Selbo: How did you get started in officiating?
I started when I was going to college at Illinois State University. ... It was basically to get a little extra money. It was suggested to me by an official up in this area. .... I started football first because I was coaching basketball at the time and didn’t think I could do both. But I ended up [starting to officiate basketball games] after a couple years. I actually coached for 25 years and officiated, which just kept me super busy. 

Selbo: Athletes and coaches are rewarded by winning games. Officials don’t get wins or losses. What rewards do you get out of officiating these games?
Keeping active in the game. Staying involved in the game. I always enjoyed playing football. After I graduated from high school, I did try it for a little bit as a walk-on at Illinois State. But I didn’t make it as a walk-on. So, becoming an official almost became the next option. Like I say, you’re able to be around the game. You’re able to be around the kids. As some of the assigners say, “Every year we get a year older, and the kids stay 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 years old. So, it helps you to keep in shape a bit. It helps you do a little bit of running. ... I think sports and athletics [are] a very big part of the educational process. The IHSA considers it a continuation of the classroom, and I agree. ... In the past, I have worked in various school systems, and I definitely feel like sports and athletics were a big part in helping students. Some use it as a tool to motivate themselves to come to school. [Some students] end up getting a scholarship, and that helps them to further their education.

Selbo: Is it ever difficult to stay unbiased in these games?
No. I would say no because you really don’t care who wins. I have been to games and worked games where you think, “Well, it should be a running-clock game ... no big deal.” The first game we had this year was at Grant. Grant and Crystal Lake South. Grant was leading for awhile. On paper coming in, Crystal Lake South was ranked very high in the preseason rankings. They are still ranked pretty high. But, Grant held right with them for a quite a long time until South eventually pulled away. I’ve been at games that have been “upsets.” Like we say afterwards, “That’s why we play the game.” If it was just based on rankings, why would you even bother to play?

Selbo: How do you handle when players, coaches and fans disagree, so to speak, with calls that you make?
You try to be diplomatic. The fans you pretty much ignore, unless they get to a point where they are being so belligerent they are being personal, attacking you personally. [Officials] are taught by the IHSA that you do not confront a fan. If there is an issue and you want something done, you contact the game administrator or the athletic director ... and let them deal with it. ... Coaches you can usually work with. Coaches, generally, want to just know they have been heard. If there is a call that they didn’t agree with or whatever ... usually if you give them an explanation [it’s OK]. Sometimes you’ll get to the point where you almost turn to them and say, “Coach we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” And then you just go on. ... I don’t think you hear it as much from players. ... Some will reflect the coaches. If the coach is chirping at the officials then you may find a player that chirps. Although I had a kid once where we had issues with a coach and the one kid looked at me and my fellow official and he goes, “I’m really sorry. But he’s that way with us at practice, too.”

Selbo: Are officials held to too high of a standard sometimes?
I don’t think so. We’re expected to know the rules. We’re expected to enforce the rules and to be involved with the integrity of the game, to make sure the integrity of the game is upheld. Sportsmanship is always a key.

Selbo: Do you ever find yourself when you are a watching a game, professional or otherwise, mentally officiating the game?
Oh yeah. I’ve watched and seen things happen that I know ... were going to be questioned. I was at a Bears game last year, and I really felt that on this one return for a touchdown that the Bears player had dropped the ball before he got to the endzone. ... And that’s something where – as a fan – are you looking for that? Probably not. But as an official you are looking for that. ... They didn’t question it then. But when we got home and they were doing the recap of the game, it was brought up that the Lions could have challenged [the play].

Selbo: What advice would you give a first-year official?
Be willing to take criticism. Be open-minded. Watch a lot of games. Watch officials. ... The tendency is to watch the game and to watch the ball and everything else. What you want to do is watch the officials who may not be on the ball all the time.
Want to learn more?
For more information on becoming an official with the IHSA, visit and click on the “How to Become a Licensed Official” link.
Babicz lowdown

Board Meetings
The next Board Meeting will be Janurary 17, 2011. If you have anything you want to be discussed please send me an e-mail.