TRAVERSE CITY – As the 2020 high school football season kicks off Friday, Traverse City’s Celebrate Service Game will feature an officiating crew comprised of military veterans and first responders.
Mark Stewart is a retired Michigan State Police officer and vice president of the Northern Sports Officials Association. Stewart retired as the post commander of the Traverse City Michigan State Police post after a 25-year career and has been a registered MHSAA official for 42 years.
Stewart will serve as umpire for the Celebrate Service Game and says the idea to establish an officiating crew with military veterans and first responders began a year ago.
“This idea was born a year ago to put together an officiating crew that had military people and first responders in their background to officiate this game,” Stewart said.
Bill Parker is president of NSOA and is the fire chief of Blair Township Fire Department. Parker has been in the fire service for 24 years and a registered official for just as long. He’ll serve as referee for Friday’s game and has been busy scheduling game officials around northern Michigan.
“I assign pretty much all the football in northern Michigan, so it’s been a crazy week to say the least and then being an active first responder as I am, it was a big plus,” Parker said.
Head linesman Jack Miles served in the U.S. Army for six years and retired as a staff sergeant. A 20-year official with the MHSAA, Miles served a combat tour in Vietnam.
Side judge Mark Holland is currently in his 15th year as a first responder and security officer with McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey. He has been a MHSAA official for 27 years.
Back judge Edward McCarty served 20 years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a chief petty officer. He currently works for Mancelona Public Schools and has been a MHSAA official for 24 years.
Line judge Bill Lobsinger served 8.5 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a sergeant following two combat tours of Iraq. He currently works as a radiology engineer at Munson Medical Center and has been a MHSAA official for nine years.
Field judge Brent Rice previously served as the lead instructor for the Harry Wendelstadt School of Umpiring for 15 years. He is currently an assistant director with the MHSAA and has been a MHSAA official for 15 years.
You can watch Friday’s game live on Local 32 or a live stream of the game on the free VUit app or on MISportsNow.com. You can also view an alternate field-level angle of the game on 9&10 Plus.
Live coverage starts at 6:55 p.m.
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