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Schlimgens find officiating high school sports a family affair

Jesse Schlimgen, of Mitchell, referees a high school volleyball match between Ethan and Tripp-Delmont/Armour earlier this season in Ethan. He’s been officiating volleyball for three years with his father, Joe. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

For Joe Schlimgen, officiating high school sporting events has been a family affair.

Over the years, Schlimgen, of Mitchell, has had the opportunity to referee with his three sons, Eric, Nathan and Jesse.

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Joe, who was the superintendent in Plankinton when it started a volleyball program, said he was glad to see the sport catch on and continue to grow.

“We wondered if the girls were going to be happy and continue playing,” he said. “You never know how long things are going to last when they start, and I’m glad it’s taken off.”

Joe has officiated many sports, including basketball, baseball and volleyball, for nearly 30 years and continues to ref alongside Jesse.

“There was a year a few years ago where my partner gave it up and I mentioned it to Jesse because he played recreational volleyball,” Joe said. “And, he said he’d try it. We’ve been partners ever since.

“Anytime I get to do anything with my sons, I enjoy it very much and I assume they enjoy it, too.”

Jesse, who’s been reffing volleyball for three years, said the activity allows him to learn from his father and bond.

“When we were growing up, he was very busy with him being an administrator,” said Jesse, of Mitchell. “It’s something fun to do with him and I’m learning the knowledge he gained from being involved with sports on how to deal with fans, players, coaches with respect.”

Joe said he looks forward to continuing to be involved in athletics for as long as he can.

“I’m retired now, so I have a lot of time on my hands,” he said. “It keeps me young, working with kids.”

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.