December 2, 2017 4:44:27 PM
Roger Short is more than an official.
Part administrator, evaluator, rules interpreter, Short has served a variety of roles through the years in multiple sports. In each one, Short has remained accessible, has kept a level head, and has found ways to communicate with coaches and players in pressure-filled situations.
That's why Short sees himself as more than a solitary figure. He sees himself as part of a team, so he made sure the first thing he did after being recognized as the National Federation of High School (NFHS) Officials Association's Official of the Year for football in the state of Mississippi was to talk about the men he works with nearly every Friday night in the fall.
"It is pretty humbling, and I am honored, but there ought to be a lot of other names on this letter," Short said last week when asked about his honor. "My entire crew -- Mickey Allen (umpire), Albert McBrayer (line judge), Perry Hendrix (field judge), Chris Ball (head linesman), Jerry Lavender (side judge), and Catfish Clay (clock operator) -- their names should have been on it there doesn't fall on my shoulders."
Short received a letter from the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) dated Nov. 21 congratulating him for being recognized and for his hard work. Short was presented with the NFHA Officials Association Certificate Award this weekend at the MHSAA football state title games at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
Short, who is director of the Lowndes County Recreation Department, has been working as a football official since 1989. He said he has worked as a "white hat," or lead official, since 1995.
Short also serves as assistant assigning secretary for football in District 4. He is assigning secretary for slow- and fast-pitch softball and baseball in District 4.
Short thanked Loren Bell, the assigning secretary for football in District 4, and Stan Acy, an evaluator of officials for District 4. He praised Bell for leading a district that is "progressive" in its ways to help officials improve. He said his crew was the first to move to six people in an effort to get more officials involved. He said District 4 was the first association to have its football officials use head sets to improve communication between members.
Short also said District 4 has started to use Hudl video highlights to analyze the performance of its officials. He said he routinely goes over video footage every Saturday morning during football season to help identify issues so all officials in the district can get better.
"We're trying to do the right things," Short said. "This is high school football. Those coaches and players and fans deserve the best we can give them. That is what we try to do, be the best we can be, and try to be the best association in Mississippi."
Hendrix started with Short on the same crew in the early 1990s. He said Short is "level headed" and studies the rules diligently so he and the crew are prepared every week. Hendrix praised Short for the additional work he does to make sure all of District 4's officials can do the best jobs possible.
"It is hard to get him shook up," Hendrix said. "Coaches can do some hollering, but he stays calm. He is very under control. Individual coaches appreciate that when they're upset that you can keep yourself under control. That means a lot to the coaches."
Hendrix said that's why coaches throughout the state respect Short and know he and the crew will do their best to make sure they get every call right.
"In our district he is without a doubt the best referee, and one of the best referees in the state," Hendrix said. "I think it is a great honor. I am proud to be on the same crew as him."
Allen also worked with Short in other sports, so he has seen him under pressure in a variety of circumstances. He said Short's temperament allows him to do such a good job. He said Short uses a lot of common sense to handle situations and to make sure the crew still has fun.
"We are just a crew that has been together for so long that it is like the right hand knows what the left hand is doing," Allen said. "There is very little confusion. We go out there and we hustle and everybody knows their role, and Roger is the leader. He is the man. We care about each other."
Allen said Short "is the glue that holds the crew together" because he said there have been times other members of the team have gotten frustrated and Short has calmed them down. Like Hendrix, Allen said the award is well deserved. He said Short does so many things behind the scenes that people don't know about to assist others, which is why he is pleased to see him receive the recognition.
Short said he will continue to be his harshest critic and to serve the district to help its officials be the best they can be.
"The success I have been able to have is because I have surrounded myself with really good people," Short said. "They make me look good.
"This should be an award for District 4. I feel like this is more of an award for our association because we're a progressive association and trying to do the right thing to improve the association and to get our officials to do the proper mechanics and our association is buying into it.
"The award is an accumulation of everything you strive for. It is humbling."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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