Classic in the Country

An ‘official’ behind-the-scene look at a 12-hour jigsaw puzzle that made CitC possible

CitC's official look at a frantic effort to pull off the improbable

As Bill Andrews was busy finishing up his officiating for a boys varsity game on Friday, Jan. 18, little did he know that his weekend was about to be turned into a winter wonderland nightmare.

As the official assigner of all of the girls basketball games at Classic in the Country, Andrews had created an elaborate schedule of 60 officials to referee the entire 20-game slate of action over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend. He had done so well beforehand, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.”

He was prepared, that was until Mother Nature unleashed her wrath on Amish Country and poured forth the threat of an icy/snowy mix that was predicted to dump up to a foot of snow on the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center in Berlin, where CitC takes place.

Oddly enough his 12 hours of chaos began with a rarity, a junior varsity game that Friday night that pushed the start of the varsity boys game back to beyond 8 p.m.

As that game ended very late, Andrews went out to his car and as always checked his text messages and emails, where he immediately realized his life was about to take a very alternate route.

“I looked on my phone and checked my messages, and there were about a hundred 911-type messages from Bryce McKee,” Andrews said.

With teams bowing out in fear of the weather, it was up to McKee to reconfigure the schedule, much like he did the year prior when a storm toyed with his initial schedule. It also meant Andrews was going to have to scramble to reconnect with officials and his next 12 hours was going to be sheer lunacy.

 

Bill Andrews was still hard at work scheduling officials at Classic in the Country XVI well into the tournament.

 

 

“I knew what this meant because of last year,” Andrews said. “My wife was going to come up to the classic with me, so I told her she was going to have to be my chauffeur from Columbus while I attacked this scheduling thing.”

Armed with an iPhone, Andrews began contacting officials one by one to reconfigure his slate of officiating crews. He took out a yellow legal pad and began writing down games, officials’ names, their phone numbers and email addresses.

This was like a puzzle, but much like the character Jigsaw from the “Saw” movie series, there was a definitive time period for him to complete his puzzle.

With fingers flying he utilized his time driving from Columbus to Berlin to recreate a line-up of officials based on what McKee had given him as the new schedule of games.

Arriving at his hotel in Berlin at about 1 a.m. on Saturday — game day — Andrews found his way to the hotel computer and brought up his spreadsheets. Somehow he had managed to take an intricate puzzle he had put together once, taken it apart and put it back together, just in a very different way than it has been previously assembled.

As game two of CitC was going on Saturday, Jan. 19, Andrews was still busy crafting his final draft because yet another game had been changed.

“It’s 11:51 a.m. on Saturday, and games are going on, and I am still not completely done finalizing my schedule,” Andrews said.

He said the one saving grace was that he has the benefit of working with a crew of officials who are not only amazing at their craft, but also they are passionate and compassionate about doing whatever they have to do in order to make sure that CitC, one of the most heralded high school girls hoops showcases in the nation, went off without a hitch.

“I get to work with some incredible people,” Andrews said of both the officiating crews as well as the CitC staff. “We have a lot of officials who really look forward to this weekend and having the privilege of working games at this incredible event. So everybody is flexible, and everybody is so accommodating in changing up their schedules.”

On top of the 20 varsity games, which actually was dropped to 18 games because of the weather, Andrews had to schedule referees for the slate of junior varsity games up at the old high school gymnasium. That effort came after he had successfully gotten the varsity games completed.

Not only did he get each game in place, but also he had local officials on stand-by who were ready to show up at a moment’s notice to fill in.

For Andrews, completing this puzzle went from “How am I ever going to get this done” at 11 p.m. Friday night to “I can’t believe we got this done” on Saturday at 11:50 a.m.

The strange thing is very few people attending the CitC will have ever given a single thought as to the path that was taken that allowed three officials to referee each of the games.

Andrews took over as the official assigner at the Classic two years ago after long-time assigner Wayne Roller passed away. Andrews and Roller were very close, and he felt honored to take over the roll his friend had done for so many years.

Because he had been around Roller for so long, he understood what took place in assigning officials for this event. With that knowledge, the help of his crews and one other crucial element, he was able to pull it off.

“Can you imagine this happening 15 years ago when we didn’t have the technology we have today?” Andrews said. “I don’t know what I would have done. I literally would have had to been on a telephone calling people, and I’m not sure it would have come to be. But the one thing I am so grateful for is that I get to work with a wonderful group of officials who are dedicated, passionate about what they do and so willing to do whatever it takes to help me out. It was hectic, but because of them, it all came together in the end.”

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