Refereeing is family affair for five area menETHAN — Every week for the past 10 autumns, Dale Weber, his sons Rod and Ron Weber and son-in-law Eric Schlimgen have watched high school football together. This family outing, however, isn’t just about sitting back and watching the game. This family actually gets in on the action.
By: Leah Rado, The Daily Republic
ETHAN — Every week for the past 10 autumns, Dale Weber, his sons Rod and Ron Weber and son-in-law Eric Schlimgen have watched high school football together.
This family outing, however, isn’t just about sitting back and watching the game. This family actually gets in on the action.
Dale, Ron, Rod and Schlimgen are high school football referees and have been working on the same crew for the last 10 years. Every Friday night — or whatever night the game may fall on — the four travel to their assigned game and work together at football games around the state.
On Friday, the group added one more member of the family for the afternoon. Zach Weber, Dale’s grandson, joined the group when it refereed the Canistota/Bridgewater versus Emery/Ethan game Friday afternoon in Ethan.
Dale believes it might be the first time in state history that three generations have refereed one football game together.
“We just said we wanted to work a game together,” said Dale, who has been refereeing for 44 years. “(Ron, Rod, Schlimgen and I) referee all the time together. Zach just started this year, and we invited him down.”
All five agreed that working together Friday was a special event, and Dale said it’s something that could “easily happen again.” Since Dale, his sons and son-in-law are a regular crew, all they have to do is get Zach moved to whichever game they happen to be at that week.
“It’s a way to get together,” Ron said of working with his family. “And we still like each other, too.”
All five of the men were involved in football as either a player or a coach when they were younger, and said they started refereeing to stay with the game. They also said that their family had something to do with it.
Zach, who lives in Flandreau and has been refereeing for one year, said he started for “something to do,” and to work with his family.
“I would say it was Dad that got us going,” Ron said of brother Rod and himself, “and I think it was Eric’s dad that got him going. I know Dad got me going in it.”
Dale, who was a football coach for many years, started working as a referee shortly after he quit coaching.
“It was just a way to continue on with football,” he said. “After I quit (coaching), it led me to refereeing so I could be in contact with football, and I found out I enjoyed it.”
Schlimgen, who lives in Sioux Falls and has been a referee for 18 years, played football collegiately and became a referee after he finished college. He is married to Dale’s only daughter, Robin.
Football isn’t the only sport the family is into. Rod, who has been a referee for 16 years, is the boys’ basketball coach at Woonsocket. Ron, a referee for 22 years, is the assistant boys’ basketball coach as well as the boys’ and girls’ track coach at Armour. Dale, a Salem resident, is entering his 21st year as the president of the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association.
While Ron, Rod and Dale all said they enjoy coaching and working with other sports, they all said they enjoy working with their family more than anything.
“I think we can all agree that we wouldn’t (referee) if it wasn’t for the family doing it together,” Schlimgen said.