25 years of officiating recognized

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A.J. Bandy of Leachville was one of six officials and seven coaches receiving the prestigious honor of being inducted into the 2011 Arkansas High School Coaches Association-Arkansas Officials Association Hall of Fame.

A.J. Bandy

The induction banquet was held Friday, July 15, at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Bandy, a 25 year basketball referee, said it was a great feeling to be honored for something he loved to do.

"I wonder if I really belong there, but it is a great honor," he said.

The AHSCA-AOA Hall of Fame was founded in 1995 to honor the outstanding achievements of Arkansas high school coaches and officials, to honor the dedication and service to high school athletes.

Bandy has worked with a lot of officials through the years. He started calling games in 1970 with Johnny Donner of Leachville. In 1975 he began working with George Cagle and Bob Roe.

He credits Coach John Widner for his career in calling basketball games.

"I called scrimmage games for Coach Widner and one day he told me I needed to get my license," he said. "He got me the contact numbers and within a short time I was officiating."

Bandy has received a lot of honors. He was selected to be the head official for the NEA girls tournament.

"I worked just as hard at girls games as I did in boys games," he said.

Bandy called many games for players who went on to be coaches in the area such as Chip Layne, Gaylon and Bill Taylor, just to name a few.

"Overall, most of the young people were really good kids," he said.

In all of the years he officiated, he never had to ask a fan to leave the gymnasium.

"As long as they did not get physical or use bad language, my thoughts were they paid their money and they had a right to have a good time. I could tune out the fans."

Bandy never lost his sense of humor through the years.

He refereed a game when the All American Red Heads were playing in Leachville.

"They told me to go along with their pranks," he said. "A couple dropped my pants and I didn't like that but I got over it and finished the game."

He remembers a tournament game when he called walking on a player. The coach came over and poured water down the back of his shirt. Bandy was asked if he was going to let the coach get away with it and he said, "Yeah, it felt good and cooled me off."

One night after a game he was walking to his car and a woman said she had never seen such bad officiating in all of her years going to games.

Bandy smiled and said, "You should have been at the game I called last night, I was worse than tonight."

Refereeing was Bandy's second job. He worked for 25 years at Brown Shoe Company retiring in 1976. In 1977 he went to work for the state in the employment security department. He retired there after 25 years in 2002.

Officiating kept him in good shape because he would always start running before the season. During the last years as referee he started having problems with his legs.

"Every year we had to learn new rules," he said. "It is important officials know all of the rules."

He said the best changes, in his opinion, include the 3-point shot and taking the ball out instead of jumping it.

He did not agree whole heartedly going from two referees to three.

"It has its good points, also," he said.

Bandy said his motto was "call what you see and see what you call."

During the basketball season, Bandy was away from home four nights a week. He said his wife Doris deserves a lot of credit. He was busy working days and nights from the middle of October to the first of April.

He and Doris have been marred 55 years. They have two sons, Randy and Miles. They also have three grandsons.

Bandy has fond memories of his fellow referees, coaches, players, parents, and fans he met during his years of basketball.

"I would do it again," he said. "I enjoyed it. It is an honor to be selected into the Hall of Fame."

Bandy, along with the other inductees, received a plaque and a ring.

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