He officiated his first varsity basketball game in red tennis shoes. It had all the makings of a Hall of Fame career for Martins Ferry's Warren Hood.
"I had worked a junior varsity game that afternoon at Shadyside and had to hustle and drive to Woodsfield for a varsity game that night," Hood recalled. "When I arrived, I discovered I had left my (black) shoes at home. How crazy was that? Working your very first varsity game in red tennis shoes."
Suffice to say, Hood got it right the ensuing years as one of the state's most highly regarded sports arbiters.
This June, Hood is being inducted into the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame and joins a handful of other area referees and umpires to achieve such exemplary status.
"A totally enjoyable experience," Hood said of his 25 years in basketball and 27 in baseball. "To be recognized by your peers is very rewarding. Obviously, going into the Hall is the ultimate honor for an official or athlete."
As Hood indicates, the officiating fraternity is a close-knit one and results in years of unforgettable moments - not all of which prove memorable.
"It once cost me $2,000 to work a varsity game," Hood laughed. Headed to Skyvue to pick up the second half of a game halted weeks earlier by a power outage, Hood encountered hazardous conditions on the backroads of Monroe County.
"Driving to Skyvue is a challenge even in perfect weather," Hood reported. On this particular evening, it was bone-chilling cold and travel ill-advised.
Hood was closing in on then Skyvue High when his car began a frightful, out-of-control skid down a hilly grade. Unable to regain control, his car collided with another resulting in extensive damage. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.
"Some fellow in a jeep ended up driving me to the high school and we resumed the game at 10:45 p.m.," Hood related.
"By the time, I had my car towed back to Belmont County and the damage repairs, I was out two grand. That was an expensive ball game - and it went double-overtime. (The losing) coach accused me of taking my wreck out on his team!"
Obviously, the majority of his career was incident free as Hood continued to grade out highly among fellow officials and administrators.
By the time Hood worked his final basketball game in March of 1994, he had been awarded 16 regional assignments.
During a 27-year tenure behind the plate and on the bases, Hood drew 24 regional and 12 state tournament assignments.
"I never really minded the travel. It just went with the territory. Besides, you always had opportunities to meet coaches and administrators across the state and develop lasting friendships," he reported.
It's not out of the question, Hood's younger brother, Jimmy, could one day work his way into the OHSAA Hall.
"Having a few opportunities to work games with Jimmy will always be special to me," Warren stressed.
The official induction ceremonies take place June 16 at the Columbus Airport Marriott Hotel.
Current members of the Officials HOF from the local area include: Mike Coyne, John Howell. Roger Levi and Andy Cross. Both Coyne and Levi remain active on the statewide hoop circuit.
Warren Hood is a Martins Ferry High and Ohio University graduate who serves as 'Voice of the Purple Riders' for home basketball games.
WHEN was the last time Ohio State, WVU and Pitt were not automatic locks for high NCAA Tournament seeds?
Thad Matta's Buckeyes, though all but out of contention for a No. 1 seed, will still rate highly come selection Sunday.
The same can't be said for Bob Huggins' Mountaineers and Jamie Dixon's Panthers. There is every possibility neither will be part of next month's madness - at least in terms of qualifying for the Big Dance.
Pitt is experiencing a near unimaginable horrendous season. WVU, meanwhile, appears more likely headed for NIT status. Huggins' quint has coughed up an alarming number of second half leads this winter, including Friday's at Morgantown where the Eers saw a 15-point margin over Marquette evaporate into a 61-60 loss....
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