Every AIA Official has something else they do other than officiate. There are teachers, attorneys, engineers, accountants, bank execs all great officials and even better friends.
Each one working as an AIA official not because of the few dollars they make as much as the chance to give back to the community and stay involved in the great sport he or she love. They all bring their own perspective to the game they are working and each person has their own personality and their own way of dealing with everyone involved with the contest.
Very few coaches, players or fans know little about the AIA Official working their contest other than the uniforms we wear or the calls we get right or wrong.
With all that said I wanted to introduce you to one official who brings a unique perspective to the games he officiates, Father Craig Friedley. Father Friedley and I go back 18 years working on youth football fields in North Scottsdale together.
We both shared the same goal of trying to get better on the field while quizzing each other on the rules. I will never forget the halftime while I was thinking of a great question to stump Craig he told me he wanted to become a priest. Two months later he was headed for Oregon and the seminary.
Beyond football Father Friedley also works basketball, but his true passion is baseball. For as long as I have known him, he would always talk about his goal of working an AIA State Championship baseball game.
While Saturday his dream came true as Father Friedley was assigned to work the Division 4 State Baseball Final played at Goodyear Stadium. He told me before the game he was a little nervous but was ready.
The game was fun to watch with Tucson Desert Christian winning 4-2 over Tucson Pusch Ridge. The entire crew worked an outstanding game with Rich Nurkka working the plate, Burl Lane working as the third base umpire, and Father Craig Friedley working first base.
Legendary AIA Official Fritz Goreham who has worked as Father Friedley crew chief for the last five years of AIA Football summed it up best…”I could not be happier for Father Craig for achieving his goal of working an AIA State Final Baseball game. I know from my many conversations with him how dedicated and professional he really is. Saturday he did himself and the AIA proud”.
Congratulations to Father Craig Friedley and all the baseball umpires working the AIA playoffs and Championhips.