EAST WENATCHEE — Paul Collard is capping off a 28-year career as a football official with a nomination to the Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association or PNFOA Hall of Fame.
The PNFOA Hall of Fame has been around since 2011 but only has 11 members, now including Collard of East Wenatchee.
“Earlier this month, I got a phone call that said Paul I would like to welcome you into the Pacific Northwest Football Officials Hall of Fame,” Collard said. “You will be our 12th inductee. I’m sitting at the chair in my house with tears coming down, thinking about all the games and people I’ve met. Those things coming rushing back to you.”
Collard was elected to the 2020 class along with Jerry Oldani. He began as a official during his time in college at Pacific Lutheran University. One of his work study jobs was running the intramural department.
At that time, he started refereeing basketball, flag football and softball, finding he really enjoyed it. Once he was married and moved to Kirkland, he got in contact with the local officials association.
They gave him some books and a welcome. That’s how it all started.
He began as a Head Linesman and Line Judge before moving to umpire and referee. He spent 10 years on the PNFOA Board serving as a board member, vice president and president.
He was an official in four state championship games. Collard’s job provided flexibility so he could work as a referee over the years.
“I was in sales so I had the freedom to do games. Normally I would try to wrap my sales calls to where I would end up doing a junior high or high school game in the same area. I was fortunate I had bosses, sales managers, company owners that allowed me to do this,” he said.
Collard is still involved with game observing high school officials in Washington and Division II college officials in the Pacific Northwest.
“Football is about 80% rules and 20% judgement. Knowing what to call and when to call it. I enjoyed that mental aspect. You made a few bucks for Christmas presents,” Collard said. “I enjoyed the comradery and games, even the study for the rules tests. I prided myself on being a great rules person where I know the rule book black and white but you officiate in the gray. Knowing when to call and what to call.”
Allan Glenn is the head of the Hall of Fame Committee. Glenn said he worked hard to get Collard elected to the Hall of Fame feeling it was much deserved.
“It was my mission to make sure we recognized him for his great contributions,” Glenn said.
The Hall of Fame Committee is made up of 10 members consisting of current and former officials. The committee nominates people who they think are worthy of the Hall of Fame. Once a year, the committee votes on new members.
The PNFOA has only 12 members and it’s not because they’ve been super selective.
“This is embarrassing and I hate to say this. It was started in 2011 when we had our 50th anniversary for the association. We had our original class of Hall of Fame members. We dropped the ball after that,” Glenn said. “We did not bring in another class until I was elected to the board. In 2018, I committed to rekindling the Hall of Fame. We inducted another class in 2019 with four new members. Paul and Jerry are in the 2020 class.”
Collard said his advice to new refs is to stick it out for at least two years before deciding to quit. There is a lot of pressure from parents and coaches screaming and yelling, but if you can make it the first two or three years, you can learn how to deal with that and get better rules, knowledge and mechanics, he said.
Collard loved being in his mid-50s on a football field with kids. He enjoyed being in the limelight and in control. It was a great fit for him and a great ride.
Of course now all the officials are sidelined this spring due to school closures related to Coronavirus concerns. Collard really feels for those officials.
“The spring sports is a significant loss. A lot of guys use that for extra income. They are around games, baseball, softball and soccer. It’s an income loss to them. The loss of being around a game they love,” Collard said. “Most people aren’t in it for the money because it won’t change your income tax bracket. We love the sport and we love kids. We want to get it right and we take pride in that.”
Collard and Oldani will be honored in November at the PNFOA Hall of Fame banquet.