Wetzel to be inducted into Hall of Fame
It is not everyday that someone is inducted into a hall of fame for their hard work and passion for their job, but right here in Great Bend, one local man is being inducted.
Great Bend High School Assistant Principal Randy Wetzel has been chosen to be inducted into the Kansas Collegiate Officials Hall of Fame in March.
“This was a surprise and an honor to be inducted in the hall of fame,” Wetzel said. “I loved being an official for these young athletes. I really enjoyed the games and being part of it.”
Wetzel got his start in officiating in 1973 when he started refereeing local games in Great Bend, the same year he graduated from Great Bend High School. He was an official for 41 years, retiring in 2014.
“I have done this for a long time,” Wetzel said. “It was my passion. I loved working with kids in high school and the same for college. Another part I really enjoyed was the challenge; every game was different and you wanted to referee the perfect game. It made it better for both teams by being fair and working as a team with your fellow officials.”
Becoming an official has changed over the years. Nowadays, people have to participate in educational clinics in order to become a referee, but when Wetzel started it was more informal.
“When I started officiating it was who you knew. I got to know a gentleman while I was referring some local games and the next thing I know I was being thrown into the fire and started refereeing a lot of different games,” Wetzel said. “This is where my passion grew and where I got my start is a very long and enjoying career.”
An official must stay physically fit and mentally sharp, Wetzel noted.
“Being an official is a very demanding job,” he said. “In a typical year you would start with football, then move right into basketball, and then baseball would start, so you would have some overlap. I would not be done until June and start right back up again. It is hard on your body, so you need to be physically in shape, and you have to be able to keep up with all the rule changes every year, so you would have to be mentally in shape as well.”
Through his years of officiating, Wetzel had the opportunity to meet a lot of players that moved on to play professional sports. He also had the opportunity to meet a U.S. President.
“As you travel to these games you get to meet a lot of different people, and one person I did get to meet was George W. Bush. He was at the Oklahoma World Series to throw out the first pitch,” Wetzel said. “I have officiated at least 50 athletes that have on to Major League Baseball.”
Today, Wetzel lives just outside of Great Bend with his wife Brenda. He is the assistant principal at Great Bend High School and has been in that position for 17 years.
“If I could, I would do it all over again. The people you meet and the opportunities you get where worth all the hard work,” Wetzel said. “Being inducted into the hall of fame means a great deal to me. Being selected by your peers just shows you that you were a good official during your time. It means a lot to me.”