KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association is recognizing officials for more than 50 years’ service to a variety of sports and all regions of the state during the 2019-20 academic year.
No sport is more widely represented than football, which boasts eight of the 13 honorees who began serving the state’s governing association for high school athletics in the 1960s.
Among those honored is Steve Hodson of the Blount County Football Association. It’s been more than 50 years, but Steve Hodson still remembers the nerves from his first game as a high school football official.
“My first game was at Vonore and Tellico,” Hodson said, “and I was scared to death.
“I was the field judge. We just worked a four-man crew back then. I was field judge, and later on I started refereeing in the late ’70s as the white hat, and I stayed with that forever. I got to work with some real good people.”
Most importantly, Hodson explains, he got to work with teenagers on their way to adulthood.
“I enjoyed the kids, and I’m just a big high school promoter. I don’t like the college athletics too much,” said Hodson, a retired banker who also worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
“Just being around the kids and seeing the talent improve. The talent today is just so superior to what it was in the days of no weight rooms."
Hodson also recognizes how differently the officiating crews are organized now versus when he was first breaking into officiating following a collegiate baseball career at ETSU.
“Now, we work seven-man crews and it used to be just four,” Hodson said. “I remember working a Townsend-Walland game one night, it was Halloween night, somebody cut the power poles and all the lights went out midway through the game. They were throwing old cherry bombs at us, and at that time we made $12 and a half per game. You had to love it to make $12 and fight your way to your truck.”
An assigning officer for the Blount County Football Association, Hodson also is a recent inductee into the prestigious Blount County Sports Hall of Fame.