More than 350 people attended this year’s annual Celebrate Officiating Gala in New Orleans July 31 to wrap up the NASO Summit. Under the theme “Say Yes to Officiating,” those in attendance helped celebrate the best the officiating community has to offer during an elegant evening banquet, which included the presentation of the Gold Whistle, Mel Narol Medallion and Great Call awards.
Keith Alexander, who served as a longtime Louisiana High School Activities Association assistant executive director, was the recipient of the Great Call Award. The award is presented to those who, through their actions, shine a positive light on officiating by demonstrating an honorable level of human quality that is normally out of public view.
Bob Kanaby, retired executive director of the NFHS, was named the Mel Narol Medallion recipient. Kanaby is known for promoting the education of high school coaches and his ongoing mission of protecting and promoting a positive education-based culture in high school sports. The Medallion is awarded to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the betterment of NASO. The award is named after Narol, longtime officiating legal advocate and NASO leader.
“Tonight, I’m both rich in spirit and humble as a person due to this recognition because Mel’s spirit is reflected in the nature of this reward,” Kanaby said. “It is also a spirit designed to transfer from generation to generation.”
Kanaby added that officials provide a “public service” to the nation that is not always appreciated by the people they serve. He acknowledged while there will be a difficult road ahead to recruit and retain new people to officiating, he believes people will respond to the call to action by state and local officiating associations. He implored the audience to always uphold the values associated with officiating.
The biggest award of the night went to former NFL referee and current collegiate coordinator Bill Carollo. He was named the 2018 Gold Whistle Award recipient. An NFL official for 19 years, he officiated in two Super Bowls and served as the director of the NFL Referees Association from 2000-06. The award honors an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the betterment of officiating.
NASO President Barry Mano said Carollo was a deserving recipient of the award because he has helped many officials have successful careers on many levels. He now serves as the director of officiating for three NCAA Division I conferences and says the job allows him to continue to help new officials.
“I haven’t done enough today to truly deserve this Gold Whistle Award. But if my commissioners allow me to continue to work …maybe by the time I retire I’ve earned this award,” Carollo said. “We’re a society of takers versus givers. My family has always been a giver to me. They’ve been contributors to society and to me. That’s what made me a success and happy in what I’m doing today. So, my family gets all the credit. And I’ve also had great teachers, great friends and great people who I officiated with.”