Just over a decade ago, Teresa Arthur was looking for a new partner to officiate volleyball games. She was becoming increasingly frustrated with rotating colleagues and their seemingly lack of concern about their performances.
When she discovered the perfect person for the position, she shared the news with her husband, David.
“She told me she had found an official to help her and I was like, ‘Oh boy, who did you find?'” David said. “She informed me that it was me.”
David was a longtime basketball referee. He had never played or officiated volleyball.
“I knew he’d do what I said,” Teresa said.
She was kidding.
“His thing was that kids always deserve a fair chance,” Teresa said. “I knew he would be good at it, even if he didn’t know the game of volleyball. I knew he would do it professionally and do it right.”
Teresa spent several days teaching David the game. He studied the rulebooks. He learned signals.
“She took a raw pupil — I mean somebody that knew nothing about the game,” David said.
That protégé evolved into one of the state’s best officials.
David, a 1978 Houston High School graduate who recently completed his 11th season, was one of 16 officials selected to work the MSHSAA state volleyball championships last weekend at the Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau.
It was the second time David worked the state finals. Last season, he was selected as a line judge. This year, he was one of eight hand-selected to call matches as R1 (from the stand) and R2 (on the floor) officials.
“I never dreamed I’d be chosen,” David said. “I knew Teresa was an excellent official, but I’m just her protégé. For me to get picked, that was a big honor for me and my family.”
Teresa, who has been selected four times to officiate the state finals, was even more thrilled than her husband when they received the news he had been chosen.
“I was squealing when I got the e-mail that he was asked to do it,” she said. ” I was not a bit nervous about his performance. I knew he had it in him and could do it. I just felt very at ease and comfortable watching him.”
The Arthurs have spent the past 11 years as a husband-wife team officiating area volleyball games. They are on the road Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights along with some Saturday tournaments. They call games from West Plains to Rolla and Mountain Grove to Mountain View. It adds up to about 80 matches per season.
Teresa said David was initially hesitant to continue officiating.
“After his first year, he wanted to quit. He said, ‘I don’t enjoy it. I don’t understand it. I don’t want to do it,'” she said. “And I said, ‘No, you’ve got to give it another chance.’ Probably about the third or fourth year, he was hooked.”
David said he has followed his wife’s lead on the volleyball court the past decade. He said he leans on her experience and passion of the game to become a better official.
They frequently discuss calls from the match on the way home.
“It’s kind of strange,” he said. “Our roles at home are that I’m the leader and wear the pants in the family. But on the volleyball court, she is the leader.”
Teresa said the relationship worked that way for a long time. But she said it has evolved over time.
“I saw a difference in him this year,” Teresa said. “He is starting to maybe wear the pants on the volleyball court. It seems like during the church work he has done, he has become more bold with people when it comes to talking about things and making decisions. I’ve seen that come over to the volleyball court.
“He used to let me override his decisions on the court. He didn’t do that this year. He started saying, ‘No, this is what I saw and this is going to be the call.'”
Volleyball officials receive ratings on a 1-5 scale from both coaches following every match during the season. Those marks, along with coach recommendations and comments from a state evaluator, determine who is eligible to referee the state championships.
Officials are often first selected as line judges. David said the process allows MSHSAA to determine how officials react in the intense environment at the final four.
David must have handled his first experience well. After his role as a line judge in 2010, he was selected this year as a R1 and R2.
He called at least one match for all but two of the 16 teams that completed in Classes 1-4 at this year’s state finals. David was the lead referee for the Class 3 championship game between St. Pius X and Villa Duchesne.
Teresa said her husband excels as remembering the nuances of the rulebook and making precise signals.
“The MSHSAA officials were complimenting him and his mechanics,” she said. “A lot of referees are not as exact and precise. He was held up as the example there for other officials to watch.”
David, who begins a new season of officiating Friday at a junior high basketball tournament, wasn’t able to convince his wife to join him on the court. She isn’t a fan of the running or the sport’s three rulebooks.
But he remains committed to working alongside her in volleyball.
“I told her I’d do it one year,” David said, “and here I still am.”
I never dreamed I’d be chosen. I knew Teresa was an excellentofficial, but I’m just her protégé. For me to get picked, that wasa big honor for me and my family.”