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Prep notes: State officials take advantage of pros’ knowledge

Albuquerque resident Land Clark, shown during a 2019 NFL game, was promoted to referee recently after serving the two previous years as a field judge. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

What do NFL referees Land Clark, Tony Corrente, Scott Novak and Brad Rogers have in common with major league umpires Doug Eddings and Mike Everitt?

All of them have donated their time to give webinar talks to New Mexico high school officials.

“It really has caught like wildfire,” said Dana Pappas, the commissioner of officials for the New Mexico Activities Association.

Pappas said two of the state’s central region football officials, Ken Adent and Dennis Barela, began putting together an occasional webinar session, including one headlined by Albuquerque’s Clark, the NFL’s newest white hat for the 2020 season.

Since then, those two, plus Pappas at the NMAA, have been staging regular webinars with officials at the highest level of sports.

Corrente, one of the NFL’s longest-tenured referees, was one of the recent guests, as was Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s only female official.

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Alex Avila holds up the ball after tagging out New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo, as home plate umpire Doug Eddings watches during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

On Thursday, Eddings, who is from Las Cruces, is scheduled to speak. Last October, Eddings was a member of the World Series umpiring crew.

There are currently officials in seven sports – football, baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and softball – participating in these webinars.

What is unusual about them is that they have been created and driven by New Mexico. These webinars are not regional or national in nature.

The guests have been speaking on various technical aspects of officiating, plus overall themes. Among them: adversity in football officiating, which was included in Corrente’s presentation, and communication/relationships between coaches and officials, which was central to the talk given by Mike Pereira, a former NFL official and now Fox’s NFL rules analyst.

The webinars are free for New Mexico high school officials. Pappas said all the guests have gladly volunteered their time, and also taken questions afterward.

“There are officials who felt there was this void in their lives and they wanted to stay connected,” Pappas said, adding that officials who miss a specific guest speaker can watch it later as they are all recorded.

“It’s just such an impressive forum and a cool idea that officials were wanting to stay connected in the offseason,” Pappas said.

OFFICIATING, CONTINUED: The last time the NMAA experienced a significant bump in the number of new officials was 2008. Pappas wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again this year, although there is “nothing yet that jumps off the page,” she said.

Any increase in numbers wouldn’t start to be known until perhaps early next month, said Pappas.

JOHNSON HONORED: La Cueva High boys tennis coach Dick Johnson recently was given the Southwest Professional Tennis Association STAR award.

It goes to individuals who have dedicated many years to volunteering in grassroots tennis, and also through initiatives incorporating multicultural and other aspects.

Johnson’s won-loss record at La Cueva is 376-55, and he also is the president of the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.

ACADEMY SIGNINGS: Albuquerque Academy had a virtual signing ceremony earlier this week for eight seniors.

Notable on that list is Chase Weissenborn, who signed to play baseball for the hometown New Mexico Lobos.

Also participating were Jake Hand (swimming, Arizona), Tyler Lyon (track and field, Connecticut), Teagun Glenn (track and field, Air Force), Julian Garcia (cross country, Arizona); Audrey Colter (soccer, Air Force); Matt McNaney (baseball, Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas), and Courtney Lohmeier (soccer, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University).

FOOTBALL DOINGS: Clovis defensive end Jaden Phillips has received a scholarship offer from UNM, he announced Wednesday on his Twitter account. … Air Force and Fresno State are recent schools to have offered Cleveland wide receiver Tre Watson. … Another Storm stud, Trey Ortega, has been offered by Cornell. … Clovis running back Jeston Webskowski has recent offers from Northern Arizona and Incarnate Word.

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