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April 01, 2010 3:47 am

Heny heading to officials' hall of fame

Written by Tribune Staff

Longtime ref will be inducted in July ceremony

Thirty-five years after first picking up a whistle, Powell's Myron Heny will see his picture hung in the Wyoming Sports Officials' Association Hall of Fame in Casper. Heny was one of two individuals inducted into the 2010 hall of fame class.

The decision was unveiled last week in a joint announcement by the WSOA and the Wyoming High School Activities Association.

“There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction to have your peers recognize your contributions and what you give up to officiate,” said Heny. “Your family knows the sacrifice, but it is nice when your peers see that you've gone above and beyond what's called for.”

Heny's induction will come during a July 23 banquet in Casper.

“I just had an interest in fair officiating,” Heny said of his decision to first don the stripes. “You saw it then and you still see it now. There's people out there doing it for the money and not really knowing what the rules are. I don't like that.”

Heny got his officiating start on the gridiron as part of a four-man crew — the standard size in those days. The three veteran officials he broke in with retired the following summer.

“They called me and congratulated me on being a referee now,” Heny recalled of that summer. “Then they told me that I had to go out and find myself a crew.”

Heny added basketball and track to his officiating repertoire. Over the years, he's overseen countless middle school, high school and junior college games around the region. He's volunteered time to coach, to evaluate other officials from around the state and to serve as a finish line judge and timer at the state track and field championships. He also teaches classes at Northwest College on the rules of various sports, in part to train and recruit the next generation of officials.

“I like being around kids and sports,” said Heny, who logs thousands of miles annually traveling to and from games, not only in the Big Horn Basin, but throughout the state. “We've done football games in Jackson and Gillette. I go down to Green River to evaluate basketball officials at the Flaming Gorge tournament. It's a lot of miles.”

Heny was a big proponent of the evaluation process for officials. He calls the requirement that playoff referees be certified one of the most positive developments during his three and a half decades of service.

“They've also made it mandatory that officials go to a camp once every five years now and for head coaches to pass the same rules test that officials take,” said Heny. “Both of those have been good for sports as well.”

There have been changes over the years to the sports themselves too. The 3-point shot sped up basketball games. The transition to more pass-friendly schemes on the football field resulted in the ball flying through the air with greater frequency.

“One of the biggest changes has been the shift to a five-man crew for football and a three-man crew for basketball,” Heny said.

“Getting that third guy out there in basketball has really helped keep some people officiating that would otherwise have had to give it up. It used to be that a lot of teams would walk the ball up the floor. Now, nobody does that. Everyone's pushing the ball.

“Football's the same way. With more passes being thrown and wide-outs being employed, you really need that fifth guy out there.”

There have been changes to the rules as well, not all of which Heny has been fond of.

“They've added more rules that force officials to make judgment calls out there,” said Heny. “Now you have to decide if a foul was intentional, when to start a five-count, where someone was standing on the floor. There's more judgment-based rules now than there were when I first started out.”

Then there are the fans. Regardless of the level, Heny has heard his share of criticism from coaches, from players and from the stands.

“That's part of the job,” Heny said. “You've got to accept that at any point in time, you might be the hero over on this side and an ass over on that one. Two minutes later, it might switch completely. If you can't handle it, don't get involved.”

For Heny though, there have never been any regrets.

“I've had a lot of loyalty and support,” said Heny. “My whole family is involved in sports, which is good. I don't think you'd last very long with us if you weren't. I've had guys officiate with me for 26 or 27 years now. To have that support is part of what makes it worth it.”

“People leave legacies in life. I guess mine will be that I did something special for officiating and sports for the betterment of kids.”