Officiating is more than just blowing a whistle and El Dorado educator Lance Fuller knows full and well.
"I definitely thought I could do it before I got into it," Fuller said. "It is a lot harder than I thought."
Fuller has been officiating basketball in Kansas for sixth year and shot up the officiating chart. From doing 1A basketball his first year certified to doing the Andover-Andover Central game that ended with as much tension as it did when it started.
The 33-year old would not be where he was if it wasn’t for his time teaching at Pratt. The athletic director reached out to Fuller as the school struggled to fill the sub-varsity officiating positions.
The theme has been played over and over within western Kansas. Schools have moved dates or had to cancel sub-varsity due to the lack of officials.
Fuller stepped up.
"I did some men’s league in college but never took it serious until my first year teaching," Fuller said.
Since then, Fuller’s officiating career has taken off. He officiated Andover and Andover Central to end the regular season, an always hot and contested rivalry game. He officiated Junction City-Manhattan earlier this year.
"I was nervous that entire first half," Fuller said. "The atmosphere at Manhattan; that boys game was loud and rowdy. It was very intense."
From doing officiating in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to AVCTL basketball, Fuller applies it to not only teaching but also coaching.
"Before I was an official, I probably had six technical," Fuller said. "Now, I’m not yelling and I will be asking for an explanation."
When he’s not officiating, Fuller, he’s a special education educator at El Dorado Middle School. He’s also the boy’s head soccer coach, leading his team to the school’s first ever playoff win in October. He also is an assistant baseball coach for the high school.
"It’s the patience and being able to communicate," Fuller said in tying education and officiating together. "The education piece is huge at the end of the day you’re communicating with kids. Communication, that’s everything with life."
While officiating is a hobby, it requires hours studying outside of the court. It is not all stripes and whistles.
"At the minimum, I spent 4-5 hours a week watching film, getting into the rule book," Fuller said. "You’re trying to perfect your craft.
I want to be better and at the same time, I enjoy doing it."