Whistling way to Show-Me Showdown
Hughes hopes more join basketball’s third team
While no local schools will be represented in the Show-Me Showdown final fours next weekend, one local man will be on the floor for hopefully a few games.
Joshua Hughes, of Purdy, was one of two officials in the Joplin Basketball Officials Association selected to officiate the final rounds of the state tournaments, set for March 11-13 at the JHQ Arena and Hammons Student Center in Springfield.
“I’m scared, nervous, excited and anxious all at the same time about this opportunity,” he said. “I’m sure once I’m out there it will be like any other game, and I owe everyone else so much thanks and gratitude for me getting this chance.
“We’ll get our Final Four assignments early next week, and there’s a chance I will work three or four games.”
Hughes played basketball and baseball at Wheaton High School in the late 1990s, then went on to play college baseball at St. Mary in Kansas. He has been officiating basketball for 16 years now, and this is his first chance to work at the Show-Me Showdown level.
“I’ve been doing playoff games for about the last 10 years at the district, sectional and quarterfinal levels, but this is my first Final Four,” he said. “My dad was an official for 30-plus years and just retired a couple years ago. I started coaching baseball right out of college, and I missed playing basketball, plus I had just gotten married and started having kids, so we needed some extra income.
“My wife, Misty, deserves so much credit for allowing me to coach and officiate while she is home most nights raising our boys. She is huge part of this.”
Hughes said his style on the floor is based in professionalism, officiating to his expectations as if he were a coach.
“I make sure the kids understand they have to play and the coaches have to coach, and I talk to the kids and coaches throughout the game but remain professional,” he said. “I want to give coaches and players the same thing I’d want from an umpire when I’m coaching baseball.”
Hughes said he hopes the exposure from his Show-Me Showdown selection will get other people in the area interested in officiating, and there are plenty of perks.
“During the regular season, there are about four or five guys in the Monett-Purdy-Cassville area that work on a normal basis,” he said. “At holiday and early season tournaments, I get to work with some different partners. One of the neat things about being an official is the brotherhood we have. When we go out on the floor, it’s only us three on our side. Not everyone will like all the calls, so we have to be a team just like the players are a team.”
The brotherhood extends beyond the court, too, especially with the local officials that Hughes works with most.
“Mike Vining, from Cassville, Mike Coones, from Monett and Ty Goetz, from Monett, are three I work with a lot,” he said. “We always help one anther out and can call each other after games to talk about calls and make sure we are getting things right.
“I love working with those three guys. We also have Shawn Trent, who we’ve been working with and mentoring. To be able to have officials in the future, we’ve got to have some younger guys.”
Weeks, especially at the end of the season, can keep Hughes on the go.
“This week, for example, I was in Aurora on Monday, Kickapoo on Tuesday, Steeleville on Wednesday, McDonald County on Thursday and Webb City on Friday,” he said. “One thing I love about officiating is those carpool rides to and from games where you can get that camaraderie with the other officials so you’re on the same page when you’re on the floor.”
Hughes said for anyone interesting in officiating, patience and a willingness to learn are important.
“You have to put in the time and your due diligence,” he said. “Learn the rules well, especially if you’ve never played that sport. Also, do as many youth games as you can to get as much time on the floor as possible.”
Anyone interested in becoming an official, for any sport, with the Missouri State High School Athletics Association can visit: www.mshsaa.org/CMSPages/Become-an-Official.aspx.
Hughes said for basketball specifically, summer is a great time to get involved, as there are a myriad of training opportunities and possibilities for gaining experience.