For some people, if they are fortunate, their passions and interests can become a career.
Andy Williams is that kind of individual. Although it may not technically be his career, for the last 11 years Williams has made a presence in the athletic community as a volleyball and basketball official.
That presence has led to Williams being selected by the area coaches to officiate at both the state volleyball and basketball tournaments. Officials are selected based on their ratings which are given by the coaches after each varsity match.
“The coaches rate us after every varsity contest,” Williams said. “You have to have a minimum rating before you are selected for state.”
He has been chosen to work the state volleyball tournament three times in the last five years and has worked at the state basketball tournament once.
“I have been doing both volleyball and basketball games for 11 years,” Williams said. “I like to do both of them equally, but I do have to say volleyball is easier on the body than the basketball.”
Williams officiates at 25 regular season matches a year and 30 basketball games.
That number is misleading.
On a given night, he may call four matches a night in volleyball and possibly three a night in basketball depending on the games scheduled.
“The best part of everything I do is the people I have met and get to work with,” Williams said. “I have spent most of my volleyball matches partnered with Linda Dennis.
“We’ve haven’t spent every night working together,” Williams added. “But she is great and we have fun; you have to or else the nights become too long.”
Williams commented that there are two associations, one for volleyball officials and one for basketball officials, that provide support and advice for those who are willing to learn.
“Helping others learn is one of the things I enjoy,” Williams said. “I think Linda and I both helped each other when we were starting out and we’re both willing to work with the athletes after the match if they don’t understand a call that we made.”
Williams has also worked with officials who he watched play ball through the years who have now become officials themselves.
“We are always looking for new officials,” Williams said. “If anyone is interested they need to go to the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHAAA) website or just talk to any official.”
Officiating is not his only job. He is employed at Duke Manufacturing as a Subway soup warmer line-lead.
“When I graduated from high school, I enlisted in the Marines,” Williams said. “I served four and a half years in the infantry and was oversees for almost three years.”
He spent time in a number of countries including Japan, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore and Oman before his discharge from the service.
When he returned home, he met his wife Shelly through volleyball.
His wife is the reason Williams became an official.
“Shelly and I played on Parks and Rec teams; it’s where we met,” Williams explained. “After spraining my ankle one too many times, Shelly said maybe I should start to referee instead.”
That is how it began and continues, since Williams does not have immediate plans to stop officiating.
“I really enjoy what I do a great deal,” Williams said. “I like working with the students and coaches and everyone involved because it keeps me involved with something I love as well.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484