Jul. 16—GREENSBORO — Few jobs, especially in the rah-rah world of athletics, are as thankless as that of official.
This week, two local officials did get to experience appreciation, though, as they were recognized among the state's best.
Anthony Maynor and Errol Daniels were each honored with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's Golden Whistle Award, which recognizes sustained excellence in high school sports officiating, at a ceremony Tuesday in Greensboro.
"Just being out there on the athletic field, with the men and women competing, is a thrill," Daniels said. "So to be recognized in that manner — that's the highest award an official in the state of North Carolina can receive, on an individual basis — is very humbling."
Both officials represent the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association — joining Brad Allen, Alphonso McRae, Neil Buie and Wiley Barrett as recipients from that association, which was the only regional officiating association with multiple winners, marking the SAOA's first time with two honorees in the same year.
For Maynor and Daniels, who have worked together on the field and court for years, receiving the award together made it all the more special.
"It's always good that you can be recognized with a fellow official that you've worked on the basketball court with, on the football field with and on the baseball field with," Maynor said. "And now, as a regional assigner, that you actually work games for. Because you see the hard work that they do, he sees the hard work that you've done. And it's always good to have someone that you go in with, for any award, that you say 'that guy was just as deserving as I was.'"
Maynor, from Pembroke, will enter his 24th season of officiating this fall. He officiates football, basketball, baseball and softball and has worked eight state championships across those sports; he also works as a college football official at the Division-I Football Championship Subdivision level.
"When we're out there officiating, our job at the end of the night is to walk off that field, to walk off that court, and say 'I've given the best effort that I can give; I felt like we supported those student-athletes and these coaches that particular night,'" Maynor said. "Receiving this award, you feel like that it's culminated a part of your career, that you've reached the highest peak of an award that an official can get — but that doesn't mean that we're receiving this award and going 'oh, we're done now.'"
Daniels, who resides in Fayetteville, officiates football, basketball, baseball, softball and soccer, and will enter his 17th season of officiating this fall. He has worked 10 total state championships across those sports.
Much like being a part of the game is part of the excitement on the field for officials, Daniels was excited to be a part of the NCHSAA's awards alongside others being honored.
"Being part of that awards ceremony, and having them recognize the student-athletes, athletic directors, coaches and officials," Daniels said. "It's a thankless job many times that you do, so that was meaningful, going into that and receiving that award, those five of us that received that award that day."
The pair were nominated by previous Golden Whistle recipient Allen, a Lumberton native and longtime high school official who is now a referee in the NFL and mentors numerous officials in the area.
"For the NCHSAA, I think since 2009, to go out of their way to recognize the gold standard in officiating — and this is not the most-games-worked award, the number-of-years-you-were-able-to-fog-a-mirror award; it's truly about women and men that exemplified being positive role models in the community, supporting education-based athletics, and being outstanding at what they do in officiating," Allen said. "Errol Daniels and Anthony Maynor both go above and beyond in every facet in that criteria."
It's also important, Allen said, that each provides representation for minority officials; Daniels is Black, while Maynor is an American Indian and a member of the Lumbee Tribe, which he said he was proud to represent in receiving the award. Allen believes Maynor is just the "second or third" American Indian honoree.
So what makes Maynor and Daniels so good at officiating? Preparation and dedication to the craft.
"They sacrifice a lot of personal and family time, because they are studying rules, or in clinics, or out working scrimmages. They really do above and beyond as far as the amount of time they devote to the craft of officiating. And then, on top of those things, they both have outstanding judgement," Allen said. "They work hard to be in the right position, they know the rules, they know how to make the right calls, and — maybe most importantly for these two — they know how to communicate so well what they have ruled to their coaches and players."
"There's more than just going out there and working this or that game," Maynor said. "You've got to be able to go out there and manage the game, communicate with coaches and with players, and you've got to have an appearance, you can't just go out there and say the cameras and lights are on me, it's all about me."
But for one night, as a reward for their years of hard work, it was.