Tom Lopes was honored with NASO’s Gold Whistle Award and Mike Pereira the Mel Narol Medallion at the July 30 Celebrate Officiating Gala, which concluded the Sports Officiating Summit in Spokane, Wash. Mark Uyl, Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director, served as the master of ceremonies for the special event.
Lopes, recently retired executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO), received officiating’s highest honor for his significant contributions to officiating in the area of training and education. Lopes also officiated college basketball for 40 years (35 at the D-I level), including 20 consecutive NCAA tournaments and three Final Fours. During his speech, Lopes fondly recounted experiences from starting out in officiating, Special Olympics, his career in education, family and his position as IAABO executive director, from which he retired at the end of June.
Lopes also encouraged officials to remember why they are officiating and to pay it forward.
“When I announced my retirement, it was funny, I got four or five cards — I’m not sure I know the people — thanking me for something they attributed to me,” he said. “The point is all the people you made contact with — you’ll realize what you do for them. So, continue to make sure you pay it forward, pass it on. Help somebody. Nobody sitting here did it by themselves. Somebody helped them along the way.”
Pereira, NFL and NCAA football rules analyst for Fox Sports, spoke on the importance of being part of the officiating family during his Medallion acceptance speech. He said the award, which recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the betterment of NASO, was for all the officials in the room.
“For all the fun I’ve had over the years being connected with officiating, none of it compares to an evening like this when you’re actually awarded something that you really probably don’t deserve but that you accept on behalf of many,” he said. “When I say many, I mean my family. And when I say my family, I mean all of you and anybody that’s every stepped out on the court, field, pitch, diamond.”
Pereira joined Fox Sports after serving as the NFL vice president of officiating. He also had a successful career officiating in NCAA Division I football and the NFL. He is a former chair of the NASO board of directors. Pereira was was recognized for his work on the field, in supervisory positions, his current job as an officiating analyst for Fox Sports, and his role in promoting Battlefields to Ballfields, helping U.S. veterans return to civilian life through jobs in sports officiating.