Yuma area referee speaks out on potential opening of Fall prep sports.
You might not find a more lifelong dedicated sports fan like Tish Malone.
This long-time Yuma High School educator has been around sports most of her life.
Her journey started as an athlete, before eventually becoming a coach and then a referee.
Malone has served as an official in games for close to 40 years, 25 of them with the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
When the Coronavirus Pandemic came along, her life would change.
"I totally thought this thing would be over. When they called us out in March, I figured we would be back on the field, you know, April. I figured we'd finish our seasons and get a chance to watch the kids play. So, now I'm just curious. Can we actually play? Are we going to be able to sustain what we're starting right now?"
News 11 Sports recently caught up with Malone, who personally believes (even now) that there's a 50-50 chance that a Fall season will play out.
Even though she believes the updated social distancing mandates by the AIA will help protect officials and student athletes, she carries concerns that could potentially undermine future competitions.
One of those is the risk that student athletes will have of injury after a number of months of being out of team practices or training regimens.
Another issue that could prove to be significant in Malone's eyes is the availability of local refs.
"We've always been short-handed. Are we going to continue to be short-handed? If we do field all the levels, are we going to be able to adequately be there for the kids? There's people that may or may not come back. We're already having trouble attracting them. We cannot afford to lose officials. I'm sitting on the bubble waiting to see what happens in the Spring. You know, there's so many different variables to throw at this."
As the doors appear to be opening for the Fall season, with the AIA's decision to resume it's current re-opening schedule, Malone will be ready to officiate; if she gets the call.