State tournament time is a new and exciting experience for so many. The lights in the gym may have the same wattage, but players and coaches are thrust into a proverbial spotlight slightly brighter than that of any other time of year.
The same goes for the referees. The Oklahoman recently shared a cool story of a father/son duo who would be officiating in the state basketball tournament.
The best part? It is the first time either of them have donned the stripes for postseason play.
Paul Simon and Sutton Simon were eager to be a part of the high-stakes action.
“Yes, I’m excited about it for myself,” Paul, the father, told The Oklahoman, “but I’m probably more proud and excited for him that at a young age, he’s made it.”
Sutton returned his dad’s verbal serve.
“I’m more happy for him,” the son said. “This is what he was wanting. I know this was his main goal, and he achieved it, so that’s cool.”
As it turns out, the duo reached the state’s postseason in the same year because they started officiating at the same time.
After Sutton Simon graduated from Weatherford (Okla.) in 2008, his father decided he wanted to try officiating. As he told The Oklahoman, he and wife, Jo, had watched watching Sutton and their three older daughters play sports. The girls played basketball and volleyball while Sutton played football, basketball and baseball.
“I needed a fix,” Paul Simon, 60, told the paper. “I have things to keep me going, but I needed the officiating.”
Sutton, meanwhile, got into baseball umpiring while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After graduating from OU in 2012, he didn’t find a full-time job right away, so his dad offered work as his basketball officiating partner.
Now, the 27-year-old Sutton Simon joins his dad in stripes as two of the only 48 referees working the state tourneys.
“I’m happy for him,” Sutton said of his dad. “I knew all along this is what he wanted.”
Paul said, “It’s something that’s really neat to me, and I will cherish it the rest of my life.”
You can read the rest of The Oklahoman’s feature on the father/son officiating duo here.