Sometimes, the good guy wins.
In selecting the 2013 National Federation-West Virginia School Activities Commission (SSAC) softball umpire of the year, the good guy definitely won. George Chafin of Danville was, is and will always be one of the best.
Chafin is not only a great game official but he’s a good-hearted, sincere man who can only be described as the salt of the earth.
While many lesser men and women would parade their “honor” to the public, Chafin was his usual modest self after he accepted the recognition. He told me, “you know how I am, I don’t need any recognition. You don’t have to write anything about it.”
What a disservice that would be to one of the truly great men of sports in West Virginia. But Chafin is that way. When officiating any contest, from softball to basketball, he never wants to be the center of attention. “The officials shouldn’t decide the outcome of a game,” he told me, quietly. “Let the kids do that.”
While enforcing decorum and the rules, a fan will not see Chafin jawing with a coach or arguing with a fan while calling the game. He doesn’t try to make himself the “star.” He leaves that to the youngsters who are playing. He does a tremendous job, on and off the field or court.
Usually accompanied to games by his wife, Pamela Jayne, I learned years ago that she sometimes videoed contests that her husband called. They later critiqued his performance. George and Pam wanted to be sure George was where he was supposed to be on the court when he was supposed to be there. They wanted to be certain he was getting his calls right.
When Chafin accepted the 2013 award at this year’s softball state tournament in Vienna, he naturally chose to do it on the field he loves. SSAC officials asked Chafin when and where he wanted the presentation and he chose just before the Double A championship game between Ritchie County and Herbert Hoover. Many of his friends and colleagues were present in that setting to offer their support.
The Chafins have three children: Jennifer Justin and Jason, along with two grandchildren, a boy and girl. George attended Scott High School and has spent his entire life in Danville. He described himself as “not much of a ballplayer” but participated in football, baseball and basketball for the Skyhawks. “I was a much better team manager,” he said, with his usual smile.
Chafin may or may not be modest in describing his athletic skills. I can attest that he is being very modest when he says, “I never think of myself as the best official, or a very good one even.” There’s one case where a great man is wrong: George Chafin is a tremendous official and his conduct has a positive influence on every boy and girl who ever played while he called the game. He called himself “lucky” in winning the award. But the fortunate ones are those who have an opportunity to work with Chafin and be his friends and associates. The children who have him as an official are the “lucky” ones.
The official of the year has been calling basketball games for 29 years while umpiring balls and strikes for 19. He is a living legend, particularly in Southern West Virginia.
Chafin called former Scott coaches Eddie Cox, Robert Shoals and Gary Zickefoose among those who positively influenced him in athletics. They did a whale of a job then.
He says he will continue officiating as long as his health permits with no retirement plans on the horizon.
“I love the games and I love the players, coaches and fans,” he said with a mist coming to his eyes. “I am just so lucky to get to do what I do. The kids make it easy and they are the real heroes.”
Wrong again, George. YOU are the true hero for many, many West Virginians.
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It was good to see the Man Hillbillies, after years of near-misses in several sports, finally win a state championship during last week’s baseball tournament at Power Park. Nobody deserved it more than the Billies, who upended Clarksburg Notre Dame in a slugfest.
I could mention how this proves a public school CAN defeat a parochial school in Single A but there is no point. Prejudiced Christians will always fight among themselves.
Sadness, on the other hand, engulfed Chapmanville Regional’s defeat in Double A. The Tigers will always be a power with any of the Ellises coaching, however, so look for them back in 2015.
Also, a big salute to Lincoln County and their star pitcher Brooke West on winning the AAA crown. West starred in two state title runs for the Panthers. In addition, Coach Rodney Hoover proved me wrong when I predicted his team would not win another state championship after the departure of former Coach Duane Estep. Great job, Lincoln County!
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