Justin Ricklefs


Picking on a 14-Year-Old Referee

Cool guy here had to apologize to a 14-year-old referee tonight. After a 12-year-old girls basketball game that I coached.

Face palm emoji.

Judging by the way I questioned and treated the poor kid, you would have thought I was Phil Jackson coaching the Bulls in the ’93 Finals.

Like some massive stakes were on the line.

Nope, a December 7th grade tournament game.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only ref I’ve had to apologize to and likely won’t be the last (though I told Brooke tonight she has to give me a one game suspension if I yell at a ref again haha).

I felt embarrassed by how I conducted myself tonight.

And yet 24 hours previously, with the same group of girls, I was on cloud nine.

We had two of our daughters’ teams in our home to wrap presents for a couple local families who won’t have the same Christmas our kids and most of their friends and teammates are used to.

Brooke ran all over town this week coordinating the details, buying the gifts and getting ready.

Many of the parents came and hung out late into the night with us celebrating these friendships and their generous spirits.

It was a terrific night.

And then, less than 24 hours later, I got all over a 14-year-old kid doing the best he could do while he earned his $20 check for refereeing a basketball game with girls about his age.


The thing about life is that, no matter the head knowledge we have (I would have told you very confidently before tonight’s game that I’d remain in full emotional control), we seem to blow it in ways that remind us that we’re…well, human.

And being a human is hard.

Just when we think we’ve got something exactly where we want, it gets away from us in ways that remind us we have plenty of work to do. 😃

The kid and I exchanged a pleasant exchange after the game, and I told him how sorry I was for being the almost 40-year-old guy picking on a 14-year-old kid.

He said he understands how emotional those games can get, and he told me it was OK.

The perspective I knew in my head before the game but my heart forgot during it.

I’m glad he reminded me.

Now, if the heart will just follow suit tomorrow for the rest of the tournament.

Otherwise, I’ll be suspended for a game.

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