Valley referee recognized by Virginia General Assembly for his 60 years of service
STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - A Valley youth sports referee has been recognized by the state of Virginia for his more than six decades of service.
John Wayne Hite grew up playing sports in Staunton, and he started refereeing at the YMCA while he was still in high school.
He officially joined the Virginia High School League in 1962.
“I’ve always enjoyed sports and the people around it,” Hite said.
From volleyball to baseball and everything in between, Hite has been a dedicated and reliable referee for all sports in the Valley.
“But I never understood the game [of soccer] that well, so that wasn’t much fun, so I got rid of the soccer refereeing,” Hite said chuckling.
He typically works two or three times a week and sometimes even goes to several different schools in the same day.
“But now, with a shortage of officials, I’m on the regular schedule plus on call for any games I might be able to get to,” Hite said.
While Hite has been refereeing for 61 years, he has accomplished more than that.
“I played football at Staunton, then I played post-graduate Augusta Military Academy. Then I went back to Augusta Military Academy and coached, assistant coached, in Varsity football, JV football coach, JV basketball coach, and I started a track program,” Hite explained. “I just retired in 2013 from Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind as athletic director.”
His hard work over the years set an example and left an impact on young athletes across the area.
“I’ve got one gentleman who’s working college ball now and showed me his ring from working the semi-finals in college baseball, and he said I owe this to you, and I said well thank you,” Hite said.
Traveling to new areas and creating connections are what Hite said it’s all about for him, and it’s why state legislators wanted to honor his legacy this year.
“John Avoli, who is a representative in this area, his granddaughter was playing at Staunton High School, and he said, ‘I’m going to recommend you for your years of service because I’ve seen you forever on the courts and on the football fields, and also in softball and baseball,” Hite said.
The 81-year-old said he is honored to have been recognized by the Virginia General Assembly, and he plans to continue refereeing for as long as he can.
While it may not always be easy, Hite asks that fans, coaches and players understand that he is always looking out for the players.
“You can’t see everything. There’s no way you can see everything, so you try, number one, to make the call that’s going to protect players. You’re going to make mistakes,” Hite explained.
He said officiating youth sports has been fun and rewarding, and he encourages anyone who may be interested to contact the VHSL and get trained up.
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