Pioneer Sports Group Turns 100

Posted on February 3, 2017 / Posted under Announcement, General

Chicago, Illinois (February 1, 2017) – The Athletic Officials Association (AOA), the oldest referee training organization in Illinois, and thought to be the oldest in the United States, celebrates its 100 year anniversary in 2017.

In the 1920’s the AOA Advisory Board included Alonzo Stagg, Knute Rockne, and other Midwestern college coaches and administrators that helped lead the AOA in training referees for basketball and football.  Today the AOA has 465 members with training programs in baseball and softball as well as basketball and football. The AOA referees are all registered with the Illinois High School Association, with many members working multiple sports just as their predecessors did.

All members are trained in rules, mechanics, professionalism and philosophy with extensive use of video as part of the training process. “Any organization that thrives for 100 years or more has to periodically reinvent itself to remain relevant” said Ted Lepucki, Chairman of the Board of Directors that oversees all the sports divisions.  “For the last two years, AOA has provided its football members on-line video of the games that they work.  Now the training is much more timely and relevant. It’s very personal and humbling, but the end result is continuous improvement.  Our goal is to have the best officials on the games.”

Many AOA alumni worked collegiate and professional contests in games with Red Grange and Bronco Nagurski, including the 1932 Bears-Packers game. Today AOA continues to have member officials appointed to state finals in all of the 4 sports divisions.  These officials build on a deep tradition of excellence and pride.  Here are a few examples:

Walter Eckersall University of Chicago All American Quarterback and worked as Referee for the First Tournament of Roses Game, was the First AOA Football Division President in 1917.  He was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and instrumental in forming the Chicago Tribune Athletic Association that recognized sports officials.

Hugh Ray AOA Football Division Rules Interpreter, Division President (1929-‘35), Vice Chairman of the Board (1930-’32) and only Football Official Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Recommended by George Halas and worked as Technical Rules Advisor for the NFL from 1933 to 1952.  Developed rules by example that became the official’s casebook. Mr. Ray was an AOA Football and Basketball official.

Irv Kupcinet AOA Basketball and Football official, who had a brief career as an NFL player.  In 1940, Mr. Kupcinet was the Head Linesman for the historic Bears – Washington NFL championship game where the Bears scored 73 points, the largest winning margin in NFL history.  He was a Chicago radio and TV personality and worked for the Chicago Sun Times.

Tommy Kouzmanoff  AOA Basketball and Football Official worked IHSA state Basketball finals in 1953, ’54 ’55 who served as the longest running Football Division President for 15 years.  He was a newspaper reporter who worked for the Chicago American and he covered 31 IHSA state final basketball tournaments.

Press Release

2017 Baseball Umpire Training Meetings

Posted on January 17, 2017 / Posted under Announcement, Baseball

The board is putting the final touches on our 2017 umpire training. Meetings will be held on six consecutive Wednesdays. The dates are; February 8, 15, 22 and March 1, 8 & 15, 2017.  March 22 is reserved as a “make up” date. 
The meetings will be held at Naperville North High School. The school is located on the corner of Ogden Ave/Route 34 and Mill St.) in Naperville. Meetings go from 7:00-9:00 PM in Room 184.  
We will have new umpire sessions starting at 6:30 PM on the same dates. New umpire sessions benefit officials with 2 or fewer years of baseball experience. 
Invite someone you know that has an interest in becoming an umpire, or someone that has experience and wants to prepare for the upcoming baseball season.
Dues will remain $30.  Dues are waived for first time members.  
Keep watching your email for more information about the 2017 meetings.

Online Membership Registration

AOA Centennial Celebration

Posted on December 30, 2016 / Posted under Announcement, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Social, Softball

Save the Date

Calling all AOA Members, Alumni, & Friends

The AOA is celebrating 100 years of Officiating Excellence and will be recognizing this memorable event with all of our divisions, Hall of Fame members, former members, and guests. Come join us for this milestone event on Saturday, May 20th , 2017 and save the date on your calendar.

In addition we need your help to contact any of our alumni members so please reach out to former AOA officials and have them send us a note so we can include them on our email list for this event. Please send any contact information to Ted Lepucki at lepuckited [at] aol [dot] com

You won’t want to miss this gala event as we have a great agenda planned along with our banquet at the Diplomat West, 681 West North Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois 60126.

We will be contacting you with more details in the near future and look forward to seeing you at the Centennial Celebration!!

– AOA Centennial Planning Committee

Basketball Meeting Schedule

Posted on September 7, 2016 / Posted under Announcement, Basketball

York High School
355 W. St. Charles Rd, Elmhurst 60126

Enter Building through the “Academic Entrance” near the Flag Pole.
Room is on the second Floor A290.

Meeting dates 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, 11/10.

Week 1 (Thursday 10/6 @ 7:30 PM): Points of Emphasis & Mentor Program
Week 2 (Thursday 10/13 @ 7:30 PM): Tax Liability for Level 1 (Mark Cladis) & When to give a T (Hartzheim & Palmer)
Week 3 (Thursday 10/20 @ 7:30 PM): 20 Rule Test (Joe Spagnolo)
Week 4 (Thursday 10/27 @ 7:30 PM): Rule 4 (Spagnolo)
Week 5 (Thursday 11/3 @ 7:30 PM): IHSA Test review & SFO Panel
Week 6 (Thursday 11/10 @ 7:30 PM): Anticipate the Play not the Call & Preventative Officiating

2016 Football Division Clinic

Posted on July 8, 2016 / Posted under Announcement, Football

July – September 2016
Fenton High School
Bensenville, IL

Members/Participants must attend 4 out of 6 meetings to qualify for clinic credit

Online Membership Registration

July 28, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Mechanics Overview
5A State Final Crew, Chris Head, Larhone Miles, Mike Outten, Ivan Palamore, Andre Golston

August 4, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm
IHSA overview
Sam Knox, IHSA Head of Football
Doug King (HUDL)

August 11, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm – Room 218/220
Kicking Game
Mark Cunningham

August 18, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Conflict Resolution and Professionalism
2A State Final Crew: Michael Zuckerman, Tom Cappelen, Tom Lowe, Darrell Schrag, Kevin Lindell

August 24, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm – WEDNESDAY
New rules and applications
Bill Laude

September 1, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm
You Make the Call – video clip review
Ted Lepucki

AOA Members Assigned to 2016 IHSA Baseball Playoffs

Posted on June 14, 2016 / Posted under Announcement, Baseball

State Finals

Craig Davelis — 3A/4A

Super Sectionals

Craig Davelis — Crestwood 4A
Bill Mushrush — Augustana 3A


Craig Davelis — St. Viator
Vince Mastandrea — Rochelle
Bob Copas — Lincoln Way West
Jeff Schanks — Chicago Brooks

Chuck Graber – Illinois Wesleyan semi-final
Ruben Rodriguez –Illinois Wesleyan semi-final
Steve Harms — Stevenson**
Bill Mushrush — Oswego


Jeff Brogan — Holy Trinity play in game*
Don Hoener — Walther Christian

Jim Meurer — Timothy Christian
Mike Sawicki — Guerin Prep
Mike Stensen — St Joseph Weschester

Don Arnold — Belvidere
Bob Copas — St. Pat’s
John Cyr — Benet Academy
Bob Jenkins — Montini
Steve Harms — Benet Academy
Joe Marks — Benet Academy Final
Bill Mushrush — Kaneland
Bob Pauls — Sycamore
Ruben Rodriguez — Kaneland
Mike Stensen — Chicago Harlan
Gary Stratton — Palo Heights
Bill Vincent — Marian Central

Jim Adamski — Bolingbrook
Craig Davelis — Palatine
Chuck Graber — Bolingbrook
Ed Hayes — Glenbrook North*
Steve Jakes — Metea Valley
Vince Mastandrea — Maine West
Jim Meurer — Sandburg
John Norder — Chicago Kennedy Play in
John Norder — Reavis (Burbank)
Jim Piazza — Metea Valley
Mike Sawicki — Maine West
Jeff Schanks — Lockport
Pat Schenck — Glenbard West

* First Assignment in State Playoff Series
** First Assignment at that level

In Memoriam: Bob Fisher

Posted on May 31, 2016 / Posted under Announcement

In Memoriam: Bob Fisher, AOA Member

We recently learned that Bob Fisher, a long time AOA member passed away on Monday, May 23, 2016. Services were held in Lebanon, TN

2016 AOA Basketball Camps

Posted on May 7, 2016 / Posted under Announcement, Basketball

Date: Saturday, June 25
Location: Elmhurst College
Target Audience: Officials with 1-3 Years Experience
Cost: $10

Date: Saturday, June 18
Location: Northern Illinois University Convocation Center
Target Audience: Officials with previous Three Person Experience
Cost: $50

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