UA-159384965-1 Dana Pappas and Nate Acosta, Commission of New Mexico Officials, Commissioner's Corner - Behind The Flag

Episode 18

Published on:

19th May 2020

Dana Pappas and Nate Acosta, Commission of New Mexico Officials, Commissioner's Corner

Top 10 Commissioner's Questions 

Dennis Barela (0s):

Alright, great.

Ken Adent (1m 6s):

Thank you for joining. We've got, uh, Dana Pappas and Nate, Acosta joining us this evening and talking about, uh, uh, what's happening in high school sports in the state of New Mexico. Um, welcome. Dana and Nate. Thanks for Dana. Hey, thanks for having us.

Dana Pappas (1m 22s):

Thank you so much. Good to be on another webinar with you guys.

Ken Adent (1m 26s):

Cool. Uh, it's been a pretty interesting spring with, you know, the COVID-19 and webinars and all that. Um, you guys know the story about Dennis and I just being born and decided to get things started, and it was kind of cool that, uh, this thing kind of exploded from, uh, you know, just a couple of guys talk and football, two multiple sports. You want to touch base on what your guys' opinion and how that's, how it began with the statewide.

Dana Pappas (1m 60s):

Sure, absolutely. So, as you mentioned, the two of you kind of started this off, and then I, I don't know if your intention, when you were getting into it was for it to become what it is, and that is now seven different sports that we've got webinars in. Um, for our state, it's received national attention now and received the local press and really it's just exploded. And the two of you started it out of, out of boredom as you stated, but it really turned into something that Nate and I realized very quickly, we needed get on board and start providing something for our Officials during this, uh, will in sports.

Dana Pappas (2m 38s):

So, um, you know, Hector Martinez and baseball, he was right after the football ones. And then Nate was like, we better start doing something for basketball. So we started basketball and then I've just been trying to get people on board in some of our other sports. And now we also have had softball. We've had wrestling, we have first soccer won tonight and our first volleyball next week. So it's been something that's grown rather quickly. Um, and rather unexpectedly it's been great to see how many people in the state have participated in the webinar's and then, and also people from around the country who have, and then as well.

Dana Pappas (3m 19s):

So we've kind of expanded The and I'm always family outside of our borders. And, and it's really just been a, kind of a fun ride and it kind of happened very quick. We, but it's been a lot of fun and a lot of learning and education and laughter and, and, uh, all of the stuff that we love about officiating kind of contained seminars.

Nate Acosta (3m 40s):

Yeah. You know, to, to kind of follow up on what Dana is talking about. Um, this pandemic song almost been a blessing for our Officials actually, um, you know, this is a time that, um, well with the help of YouTube, but this has been time that our Officials has probably gotten the most training that we've ever given them, you know, and that's obviously with the help of, you know, the various Officials and different sports and, and of course, you know, with the content tax it Dana has and why. Yeah.

Nate Acosta (4m 10s):

And, um, the relationship she's, she's built, um, it's given us the ability to bring in some of these people and, and okay. Of course, you know, um, it helps that, uh, you know, we have individuals like yourself that want to, you know, kind of facilitate these things that, that really take a lot off of mine and Dana's plate so that, um, you know, because, you know, we don't know every sport, um, you know, we know some basics, but really, you know, you guys are the ones that know what your sport or, and, and the fact that you can facilitate this is, is, is very helpful for us.

Ken Adent (4m 47s):

That's so cool to hear here. I know we did not expect it, but we embraced it. Let me tell him. And we were really that other sports got involved. Um, Nate have you, Dennis and I were talking, is it the newer Officials? Is it the middle official? Is it the seasoned official who's who's been jumping on board in your opinion, in the basketball or whatever groups that you attended?

Nate Acosta (5m 15s):

Um, it really just depends, um, you know, depending on, you know, I can speak for basketball, um, you know, it's, it's our veteran, Officials all the way down to our brand new Officials. Um, and I, and I would say that that's probably pretty similar, um, in all sports, um, we'll find out tonight how our soccer population is. Um, and, and next week, what our volleyball population looks like, but for the most part, um, you know, from our younger Officials for our, and I think everybody's kind of taking an advantage of, of the opportunity.

Ken Adent (5m 47s):

Okay. The reason I asked that question in, you know, Dana, you're, I'm sure you're on top of this, but because the newer Officials, I think we're going to bring in through technology through, uh, what, what Dennis is really fantastic at is, is, uh, you know, media, you know, web media and web advertising, Instagram, all of that other stuff that he's involved with. Um, and I, you know, the old fashioned ways of us getting New or Officials it, and word of mouth, it's just the us older guys are the guys that are aging, really arguing in touch with the newer.

Ken Adent (6m 23s):

I just, I find that this might be a way we can do a better job of recruiting.

Dana Pappas (6m 33s):

And I think you're exactly right. Ken I think, you know, we're in an interesting situation nationally from the standpoint of, you know, definitely trying to retain Officials, but we're also wanting to recruit new members into the association, you know, every association across the country, whether it's things we're talking about at our last, um, board of directors meeting for the national association of sports Officials was the need to have somebody on our board. Who's a little bit more in touch with millennials, you know, kind of with the generation below me.

Dana Pappas (7m 4s):

And it was funny because they were like, well, Dana, you're the millennial on the board. I was like, Whoa, Whoa, hold on a second. I wasn't sure if I was gonna sign off on that, but there is a realization nationally that there, that we've got to start talking in a different way to potential Officials because, you know, we're in a situation where we have to kind of do a blend of things as, as you all know, I'm huge, huge on relationships. And I don't ever want the face to face to end.

Dana Pappas (7m 34s):

I don't want relationships in the family to end, but I also have to be a realist and understand that the old methods of communication aren't going to resonate really with, with newer Officials and using media and using technology and using all those different, um, methods of training of recruiting, you know, we have to get on board with that. And I think that through this pandemic, we've really seen that there's not only a need for it, but there's also an interest in learning in that way.

Dana Pappas (8m 7s):

And, and looking all of the Officials across the sports that we've done, there's been a decent mix of very veteran Officials, as well as newer Officials, but it's really the Officials that are kind of in that six to 10 year range that have really kind of signed on with what's going on with, with technology. And I think it's the people who kind of have their feet, one foot on either side of that, the New slash veteran certification.

Dana Pappas (8m 38s):

Um, but I just, I really feel like this is a great way to reach the individuals who are visual learners, um, because how we used to do things, how we did things three, five years ago, some of it works, but certainly it's time to adjust and adapt, um, sports and, and officiating has to evolve right along with it.

Nate Acosta (8m 59s):

Absolutely. And, and really, you know, I, I'm probably the millennial and, and if, and I joked before we started this, no, unless it has bullet points or a little red dot that shows me that I have a notification, um, chances are, I'm not going to read it. Um, and I think that's kinda how we have to engage, um, some of these younger, newer Officials, but we still have to keep that balance of reaching out to our veteran Officials and they still like to have live meetings. And they still like to, to be that they like to have that face to face interaction.

Nate Acosta (9m 33s):

And, and I, I tell people all the time, the only reason I enjoy officiating was the ice tea after the game. And, and you know, that that still holds true today. I mean, everything I do on the floor and giving back to the community and giving back to the kids is fun and all, but the most fun that I've had officiating was the ice tea after the game. And so somehow we gotta find a balance between, uh, that one-on-one that interaction and using the little red notification dot.

Dennis Barela (10m 4s):

Yeah. And so, so with that, um, when we first approached you Dana about these webinars, um, you know, what was your expectations when, when we told you what our plan was, what did you actually get out of listening? Um, how'd you chill the nest Two months, went with these webinars of when we first sat down with you by telephone, you know, and say, Hey, this is R and D I R R idea.

Dana Pappas (10m 35s):

You know, it was funny because I don't know, I don't know what my expectations were because it was so new. It was such uncharted territory for all of us. Um, I was hoping that there would be a little bit of interest. I was hoping that, um, you know, it would go on for a couple of weeks and, and, uh, and just, you know, maybe spread into some other sports, but I really wasn't expecting it to be everything that it has been. Um, it, it exceeded my expectation.

Dana Pappas (11m 5s):

I may have had, it's gone so far off the charts for me. It's just been incredible. And, you know, I've been on probably 95% of all of them that have been on across all sports. And, you know, for me, obviously the content has been great, but the bigger, I guess, the bigger win out of all of it is just, Officials been together from across the state, um, getting on the same page, but building those relationships. And, you know, for me, it seemed on some of them see everybody's faces and just being able to spend that time with then, because my schedule when it's normal is absolutely crazy.

Dana Pappas (11m 47s):

And I don't always have time to spend one on one with Officials as much as I'd like to. So just having the, to listen in and hear you all feed off of each other and, um, you know, at the end of, and people just, Hey, you know, Oh, how's the family. And checking in one another, that, that family is really, what's so important to me. And it's been unbelievable just to be able to witness it and see how much people are gain out of it. And, you know, the positive text messages that I get as the webinars are going on about how exceptional everything is, it's just, it's blown my mind.

Dana Pappas (12m 24s):

And it really has helped me, you know, you all know I've been doing this for a long time, but it's helped me connect with my population that I serve in an extraordinary way. I mean, I can't thank you all enough for starting it. And of course, everybody who's been involved since the onset because it it's given me a very full heart. And it's given me a lot of hope to see so many of our Officials who are so willing to give up their time to help us Officials get better and really just want to talk officiating and nothing.

Dana Pappas (12m 57s):

You know, I'm of all of the things that have happened in my career. I've never been more proud of my Officials that I've been in this, in this pandemic because what you guys have done and Officials, and all sports have done to make this happen and to participate. It's just more my heart. And I, I can't thank you enough. I can't think everybody has done it enough because it's just, it's been a sign of hope. It's been reinvigorating. It's just, it's been so positive. I can't see a downside aside from trying to figure out how to, you know, how to continue it, um, and find more people who are interested in being a part of it.

Dana Pappas (13m 36s):

So I think that that's the only like, Oh, you know, how do we maintain this? But it's just, it's been incredible, like just absolutely incredible in every way.

Nate Acosta (13m 47s):

And she touches on the family, the fact that everybody gets to kind of meet and we're talking Officials from all four corners of the state are joining in. And, and I see E that, which is awesome and exciting, but I also see the fact that we're the consistency in the message and the training. Um, and that's something that Dana and I constantly talk about is how can we, uh, be more consistent statewide and, and how, and the central and the The Northwest and the Southwest and the Southeast just kind of come together and, and really be a lot more consistent.

Nate Acosta (14m 26s):

And, and I think this is kind of really, this was the blessing that needed to happen in order for that to happen. And, and, and it's awesome because everyone's getting the same message.

Dana Pappas (14m 39s):

Yeah. I told that, you know, that's the, that's been, the incredible thing is seeing all of you working together, because I look at the Officials and especially on the football webinars, um, you know, you have gotten Todd Morris involved with helping you get some speakers and he's a Clovis. I, and just seeing people working together and talking about the NMO, not once, did I hear somebody say, well, in our region, we do this a lot. Our region, we do that. It's been, this is how we are going to approach things.

Dana Pappas (15m 12s):

This is philosophically how we want to look at, look at things. And it hasn't ever been a regional issue, which has been amazing because we fight that all the time being sort of geographically challenged. So it's really been, it's been incredible to see people coming together and maybe it was on necessity because everybody is kind of struggling a little bit, but I just feel like it's been such a unifier that, um, I can't sing its praises enough. So it's been, it's been amazing.

Ken Adent (15m 44s):

It has been I've, I've met people from all over the state and it's like, it made the state smaller where we all, you know, the guys from Clovis talking to the guys from Crucis and it's just fantastic. I got to touch base on the state clinic. We just got an email that it's going to be all virtual this year. Um, do you, are you guys still trying to figure that out or how's that gonna work?

Dana Pappas (16m 6s):

We are so Nate and I plan on the next couple of weeks to figure out kind of what the schedule is going to look like for that. So, you know, we'll probably end up having it the weekend that the state clinic was initially scheduled for, which will be July 17th and 18th, I think. Um, and we'll look to have the three sports, which would be football, volleyball, and basketball during that weekend. Um, probably multiple sessions we're still looking at. So we're going to try to figure out if we're going to do some panel stuff. And if we're going to take the model that the AFOA folks, you know, under, under you guys' leadership have done as far as the state credit goes, but we definitely, you know, having this platform already kind of preset for us, gives us some really good ideas as far as developing that schedule, finding speakers, all of that stuff.

Dana Pappas (16m 55s):

So we'll have to, I mean, obviously we have to do the sessions that are rules, changes and points of emphasis, all of that. But these, uh, these webinars have given us really good ideas as far as other topics that maybe we wouldn't have thought about before. So it, you know, we're excited, it's something new and different, and I'm actually so glad that we've had all these webinars to date because we aren't having to reinvent the wheel for lack of a better way to put it. We've got some ideas because they've already been presented to us.

Dana Pappas (17m 26s):

So that's been super helpful for us

Dennis Barela (17m 31s):

Going back to, you know, how we were able to be all on one page and talk about one philosophy throughout the state is I don't think this happened overnight because we had been talking with Officials throughout the state for about a year. Uh, we've been working with Shawn Cooper and Crucis, uh, Leonard Longo, Longhorn, uh, Dave <inaudible>, um, Mike Horgan sends down and Clovis.

Dennis Barela (18m 3s):

And so there's been about nine of us that have, uh, stayed in communication for about a year now on and text message and emails and just bouncing ideas off of each other of, of looking at film, Hey, what do you see here? This is what the evaluator told us here. And just kind of trying to, um, stay in the rule book and the mechanic book and saying, well, we don't do it this way, but this is what the rule book says. And so when this, uh, pandemic happen and we said, we reached out and said, Hey, we want to put together webinar's and this is how we want to do it.

Dennis Barela (18m 41s):

They're already on board with us because of things that we have done before working on the, on the new mechanic book and sending that out statewide to, to all those contacts that we had, um, been working on for over a year. Um, you know, it just, wasn't something that happened over over a Friday, Saturday. Um, you know, it, it, it, you know, it took some trust, uh, throughout the month, you know, ISTEP on baka from Santa Fe, you know, was a really big part and, and, uh, sending out weekly quizzes last, uh, regular season.

Dennis Barela (19m 22s):

And so when we reached out to everybody, we just kind of said, Hey, let's expand what we had been doing and get everybody else involved. And this is how we want to do it. And in fact, we want to bring in some, some guest speakers to teach us. And so when we started reaching out to these New Mexico Officials, they said, Hey, I know Brad Rogers, you know what? I can get a hold of Sarah Thomas. I could get ahold of, you know, I New I'm Scott Novak from the clinic.

Dennis Barela (19m 53s):

Um, Leonard from Farmington, his mentor was Frank philosopher from the PAC 12. So, you know, everybody was this one person away. And so I think the trust that we've built over the last year in this group had a big part of us being able to make this, um, webinars work so quickly and everybody being on the same page, because we had already been talking for a long time.

Nate Acosta (20m 19s):

You know, I, I really think the most impressive thing is, is all this stuff is going on behind the scenes and Dana, and I really know very little about it. And absolutely we love that because any time, you know, Officials are working together, you know, um, when Officials are working together and, and doing things to better their groups, you know, and don't have to do anything, you know, and it's not that we don't want to do anything.

Nate Acosta (20m 51s):

It's just, it's nice to know that Officials are out there working and, and taking ownership of, of their craft and, and wanting to give better. And so, um, like I said, these, these webinars were made easy for us because we're not having to facilitate them. We're not having to plan them. We're not having to go to all the information together. That's all coming from the Officials that just want everyone to get it better. And, and so that's what I think is most impressive, you know, because we do, we do, I mean, we get caught up in, and the everyday day to day paperwork that takes us away from the training and development Officials of Officials.

Nate Acosta (21m 34s):

And so when you guys step up and you, you, like I said, take ownership of this, then, you know, Dana and I can still do our tedious paperwork, but we can participate in all the fun.

Dana Pappas (21m 48s):

And that, yeah, that's really the most important thing is the fact that you guys were building those relationships, you know, year ago, and all it takes to make something like this successful is people who get it. They understand that it's bigger than just them. They understand that there's an entire state, it's not just your BA your own backyard and people who are willing to reach across those, those Kennedy lines. So to speak, to forge the relationships and start to look outside of New Mexico, even, um, you know, when I talked to James Yodas from the Tribune weather or the journal, I'm sorry.

Dana Pappas (22m 29s):

He got attributed. Um, Yeah. Yeah. Right.

Ken Adent (22m 44s):

Oh, no problem.

Dana Pappas (22m 52s):

We we've noticed you guys are linking into Twitter....

Nate Acosta (23m 14s):

Yeah. Dana, You cut out a little bit. We missed half of, most of that. 90% of it.

Dana Pappas (23m 19s):

Oh, so, you know, James Yodas thought we were linking in with the national webinars company or something. And I explained to him that this was all on New Mexico project. And what people don't understand is if Officials at our level of reach out to the NFL folks and the NBA, the worst they can say is no. And the beauty of it with those individuals is they rarely say no.

Dana Pappas (23m 52s):

And the fact that you all were willing to talk to people that you had met at camps as clinicians or whatever, and ask them to be a part, it was incredible. Cause I, I didn't know any of them other than the ones that I was able to solidify. So having individuals that are willing to not only make for relationships within this state to make this work, but also to reach outside of the state to find these very high quality speakers. Um,

Nate Acosta (24m 19s):

It's just,

Dana Pappas (24m 20s):

The effort is unbelievable. I, I think I'm still a little blown away by it. It's kind of surreal in a way, because it's just, this is happening in little New Mexico so it's been, you know, it's been really cool, but it's all, it all goes back to relationships. All of it

Nate Acosta (24m 41s):

Needs muted. You're muted. Okay. Uh, don't let the boss, kid you, and you know, the reason why a lot of these individuals help our state out is because, you know, she has been so active with NSO and, and uh, Officials uh, nationally and she brings them in and, and it's just that, that relationship building and that respect for what they do and the respect for what she does. And, and so, uh, yeah, I don't want her, you know yeah.

Nate Acosta (25m 14s):

They do have, they do it for the boss.

Ken Adent (25m 16s):

I hear you. Nate we, we, we honestly have to thank Lang Clark. He was like, he opened the door for us. So, you know, it's when I reached out to Ryan, he was immediately, he replied back and said, yeah, so we own land a big, uh, you know, Pat on the back and a dinner sometime. Um, and being on the board with, when I met with the coaches and athletic directors with dusty, we started having an official slash coach interaction.

Ken Adent (25m 47s):

Um, can, I would love to hear your opinion on, can we continue moving forward and having dialogue and webinars with coaches and Officials, you know, in conjunction with each other?

Dana Pappas (25m 58s):

Absolutely. I think that we'll see more of that just, um, just because of how things were kind of set within the NMA. So last year we started going back out on the road and doing live district clinics between coaches and Officials and this year, because of the whole pandemic, we will be back on the road, but we will have those combined clinics on webinars. So I think that that's definitely going to be an opportunity for that dialogue to continue. Um, and what I really do hope is once everything, you know, we have the green light for everything to go back to normal.

Dana Pappas (26m 34s):

I would love to see more, Officials talking to coaches and teams, you know, during practices and really again, building relationships, but also being educators, because I think so many times The, you know, there might be rules, the coach doesn't know, or the players don't know that maybe they could use a little explanation, but the game isn't usually the best setting to get that full on, um, rules, interpretation. So I think, you know, we definitely want to keep that door open and, and talking to dusty and Sally, they're, they're all for it because I think that when we can have the dialogue in the off season or when it's not, you know, in a quote unquote adversarial setting, I think that it's just good for what we do as an interscholastic family.

Dana Pappas (27m 23s):

And I talk about that all the time. It's coaches, it's players, its Officials, and we all need to be respectful of our roles within that, that group of interscholastic athletics. And, you know, I think that starting these when we did in the spring is good. We didn't have a lot of participation in the first one, but at least there's knowledge that we're trying to do more of that. And I think that that's sometimes is the biggest stumbling block is just getting word out that it's happening. So once, you know, once the word of mouth kind of spreads a little bit, I think he'll continue to grow, but I think it's healthy and it gives a very healthy practice for us.

Dennis Barela (27m 60s):

Yeah. So with that, um, can you touch a little bit on, on some of the things that are coming down from, uh, when w what went to the coach of the association as far as huddle and, um, And your other changes that you, that have resulted from those meetings?

Dana Pappas (28m 17s):

Sure. Um, so with huddle, one of the things that was brought to the executive board, and of course, uh, Ken is the football representative on the MOA executive board. Um, it was to mandate coaches to submit their film in the sport of football. Um, you know, I'd love for it to be an all sports, but not all sports use huddled and where do they build in some cases. So we're really trying to get football coaches to send their games in, and we've been trying to figure out a way to do it. So our proposal came through The and Mia executive board, and dusty Giles is the NHS CA representative on our board, and he was all about it.

Dana Pappas (28m 55s):

So, you know, dusty took out and ran and he called every football coach and the state of New Mexico and asked what they felt about sharing their film, and basically, uh, a huddle account that all of us would share. And it was like 130 coaches were surveyed and almost 90 of them were just absolutely, you know, no questions asked. The only thing that coaches want to know is what's happening and what their film once its there. And, um, you know, we've done a good job over the past several years when we get a complaint from a coach and we get filled, we send it to the evaluator, the evaluator breaks it down.

Dana Pappas (29m 34s):

We share the feedback with both the crew and the, and the school that goes to the athletic director usually. And a lot of times coaches are saying, they're not getting the feedback. So we're trying to figure out how to close that gap a little bit. And I think if the coaches are actively putting their film in and we have a way to contact them directly a little more easily, they'll see how that flow of information happens. So what we're going to try to work on in our office is kind of a timeline for how that will work with regard to, you know, if you play on a Thursday night, you have to have your game film into us by, you know, Saturday morning or whatever.

Dana Pappas (30m 10s):

So we're going to come up with that now in the, in the sun, excuse me, on this summer. So that'll be a pretty big change as far as The and MOA huddle account and, and, you know, getting Officials film because they, they wanted it. Um, I know you to fall into that category of you don't care, who's filming is you just want to see film. So we're working on that and I'm having the coach's buy in is huge. And, and, uh, coach Giles has been, he's done an incredible job and really starting to rally the troops in that area.

Nate Acosta (30m 44s):

That's fantastic. I'm really glad to hear that. Um, New you want to talk a little bit, we'll, we'll switch sports. If you want for a minute, we'll talk about basketball and what you see coming and, um, yeah. You know, touching on your coaches. Uh, we, uh, in fact, this week, um, we're going to be talking to our assigners. Um, the Officials are gonna get to get to know the assigner a little bit, uh, and that's kind of really want to celebrate our assigners. They do a tremendous job all year long.

Nate Acosta (31m 14s):

Um, their job's not easy. Um, and they really, you know, they, they work their tails off. So we just want, um, kind of like what you guys have done, just bring Officials from all over the state. And so that they do get to know who the South region assigner is, uh, in Farmington, you know, and, and find out who's who, and then, um, and then we'll get back to some film breakdown next week. And then, uh, the week after that, we're actually going to bring in some coaches, um, a coaches panel. And, and really, again, it's not the Corner of them or talk about rules or talk about plays.

Nate Acosta (31m 49s):

Honestly, we just want to celebrate these coaches and humanize them just like we want to be humanized. And, and that's, you know, um, you know, for example, you know, one of our guests is going to be, uh, a coach from Maxwell high school, Sarah Davis, uh, you know, she's, she's a rancher. She, she grew up on a ranch and, and so we want our officials to know what she does outside of just coaching and teaching. And, and so, you know, that's, that's kind of what we have planned on, on the basketball side. Uh, I know I'm considered the basketball guy and I'm trying to break that mold and, you know, that's just, it is the sport that I know.

Nate Acosta (32m 25s):

And, and, um, but I'm definitely, um, through all these webinars and, and, and these trainings, I'm learning a little bit about each sport, which is great. I'm loving it.

Ken Adent (32m 40s):

Yeah. I'll ask another question here. Sorry. Dennis uh, what, speaking of humanizing, I've got to know so many Officials from around the state. I see their face on the webinars. They'll they'll text or they'll email, you know, I getting to meet a lot of the coaches and the athletic directors. It, it kind of puts it all together before, you know, these webinars are becoming beyond the board. I really didn't know that many people in that many coaches and athletic directors, uh, I think the more familiar or familiar everybody gets with each other, it makes everybody's job easier to coexist.

Ken Adent (33m 18s):


Nate Acosta (33m 20s):

Absolutely. And it looks like Dana is frozen. So I've kind of speak on that and yet, and I'm absolutely. And, and that's, that's the biggest thing this as Officials, and I'm a firm believer of this, um, as an official, I, I truly believe that I am blessed to be a part of their game. I, I don't, I don't ever consider it my game, or this is, you know, this is my core, and I'm going to take care of business. Like, because honestly, I'm just happy that it's the kids, the players, the fans, and the coaches and the administrators, just give us the opportunity to be a part of that.

Nate Acosta (33m 57s):

And so, um, you know, it's definitely this whole, you know, goes back to why this is a positive thing is we finally get to all come together in a way where people just get to meet the real Nate Acosta and Dana Pappas and, and find out who we really are as people, you know, I mean, um, when I first started at the NMA, I went on the road with Chris kitchen and his, his very first lesson, you know, cause I consider him a mentor.

Nate Acosta (34m 32s):

Um, you know, his very first lesson to me was, you know, this, this business is about building relationships. Um, think about it. You know, our office is, is known for telling people know whether it's the Officials or administrators or, you know, kids going to transfer or, you know, Hey, um, and so if you build those relationships and they get to know who Nate Acosta is when we do have to say no, that had no isn't a personal attack, it's a, you know, Hey, this is four, this is what's best for the animal.

Nate Acosta (35m 10s):

And, and that's kind of a lesson that I, I really think that I even take on to, when I, when I call games, I, I take that with me because, you know, you know, yeah. Sometimes I do have to call up the how on, you know, a team. Well, if that coach, if that coach knows who I am and they're, they have a personal relationship or they feel comfortable, you know, then, then that, that foul call is not going to be as detrimental, you know, it's it's and it's all, it goes back to what Dana said about building relationships.

Dana Pappas (35m 45s):

Sorry, my Internet's being laggy it's because only today I apologize.

Nate Acosta (35m 54s):

You're fine. Fighting. I always ask our presenters or whoever comes on our web shows, who was their mentor and how they got started. Dana how did you get started doing this?

Dana Pappas (36m 6s):

Um, looking back, I would have to say dumb luck. So I graduated from UNM in 1997 and as all college graduates do, I just started sending out job applications everywhere, um, in about April and I completely got about the application, to be honest with you, um, got a call on June 30th of 1997.

Dana Pappas (36m 41s):

You as the assistant to the Officials associates and boys sports interviewed that same day and then started working at the enemy on July 1st of 1997 of the first several months, I was terrified because Officials were yelling at me about their ratings and I didn't know what they were talking about because it's just been, it was a job that had been vacant for a number of months. And I was trying to cash people's checks for, you know, three months prior. It was a mess.

Dana Pappas (37m 11s):

I didn't think I was going to last six months and you know, 23 years later here I am at for seven years, I was the secretary to the Officials association and, uh, boys sports and, and Gary Trippe came on as the executive director of the enemy in 2004. And I actually had a job offer on the table for about another entity at the time. And I was ready, like I'm done. And he contacted me and said, I need you to stay. And I was like, why?

Dana Pappas (37m 42s):

He goes, well, I want you to be our Commissioner of Officials. And I was like, why again? And I accepted because Gary and I had worked together quite a bit when he was the athletic Moriarty people. And I just thought the world of him. So when he came off and I was promoted to sure, and you know, The always kept me at the enemy. Even through the hard times, was my relationship with the Officials once it kinda got in my bloodstream, I couldn't walk away.

Dana Pappas (38m 13s):

The Officials meant too much. To me. It wasn't even so much at that point about the organization. It was about the individual's and the friendships I had made and just, you know, I fell in love with officiating, um, and you know, there's a real respect and add and for what Officials do, and it's very unusual, but he who has not officiated to be in charge of Officials, but, you know, I've always approached my role as one of Support and advocacy, but I also spend time learning about officiating.

Dana Pappas (38m 46s):

It's just, you know, pushing paper by any means. I spend time worrying as much and, and try and contribute. And it's just, I mean, it's, it's blown up for me being affiliated with the national Federation of, with NSO and having those opportunities to bring information and people to New Mexico, because all I've ever wanted for Officials is to give them opportunities to expand their neck, their network.

Dana Pappas (39m 17s):

So Gary man, my mentor, as far as I'm officiating, but he's the one who took a chance. He took a chance on a woman. Okay. And under the age of 30, who had never officiated, and I don't know what he saw in me, but he saw something that was a value. And, and I am forever grateful to Gary because he, he changed my life. Um, and every day for me that I get to work with Officials is just a, it's a treat. I, I love what I do.

Dana Pappas (39m 48s):

I love Officials. And even when I'm no longer in this, you know, in this chair, I'll always be an advocate and a fan. And I think it's cool to have job, or you can just be a fan of the people that you serve. And, and I definitely am. And, uh, you know, I'm lucky to work with Nate because he's officiated and he can, you know, give me that insight that I don't have, because I haven't experienced it firsthand. But, you know, having that as my team and having people like you guys who are willing to put stuff together and be the practitioners, um, it makes it easy because now all I have to do is advocate and fight for you guys.

Dana Pappas (40m 26s):

I mean, that's, that's kind of a cool job to have. So, you know, I am The, I am the mall. I, you know, never had kids and that's what you all are to me. And it's just, um, you know, people always say that I get too emotional when it comes to the Officials and I do, I do, because I just I'm the protective of a bear and I'm always gonna fight for Officials. And I just, um, you know, you all are family that I couldn't build on my own, I guess.

Dana Pappas (40m 57s):

So I think that that's, what's made it so, so special. So Gary trip is a thousand percent, the reason why I have, uh, why I am, where I am right now. So I owe him all the gratitude in the world.

Dennis Barela (41m 11s):

Sorry. That was no, that was, I get a little passionate. That's exactly what we want to know, because what you said, you started under 30. So what you're about 35 now. So I've been doing this for a couple of years. Um, so this question is for both of you and, um, because you have seen a lot of changes, both good and bad. Um, and the positions you've been in at the front office, uh, some of the things that, you know, we have asked of, of the animal ate and executive board, sometimes we get a note like, um, Nate and said, sometimes it's just it's no, and there's reasons for it.

Dennis Barela (41m 57s):

Um, you know, we, we've gone and asked for different kind of have training and changes in bylaws, changes in mechanics. And, uh, sometimes it just can't happen cause it's not in the rule book and, and, uh, national Federation rule book, um, but going forward because we are in a time of, of culture change, just based off what we've been doing, um, how are you going to address those, those changes going forward, as you know, where none of us can be last year's official anymore.

Dennis Barela (42m 34s):

There's just too many things going on. Um, you've even seen it, um, and, and commented on an email that we have to train Officials to take our jobs. Um, you know, that came from Scott Novak. Um, we can't continue officiating the way we officiated because teams aren't playing like high school teams, the playing, some of them are college teams. That's how talented they are. We can't officiate what five men on a six, eight, um, state championship team.

Dennis Barela (43m 7s):

And we've, we've addressed some of those, those issues. Um, just like basketball, just, it addressed going from two person to three men mechanics, we've asked about five man, seven man mechanics. Uh, and I guess my question is what, what's your vision in the future of, of keeping up with the times and, and how football is changing so rapidly. Yeah.

Dennis Barela (43m 38s):

And then go ahead and go ahead and go. Oh, you're frozen, frozen again.

Nate Acosta (43m 48s):

Yeah, yeah, no worries. Um, I think what Dana was saying is we would love to see seven man mechanics and football, uh, you know, as an official, I definitely, you know, would like the extra bodies, um, whether it's basketball or football or, you know, any sport. Um, but, but what I have learned being in the office is, you know, we have to think about, um, numbers. Um, we have to think about, uh, uh, the money aspect and what can our schools afford, what can, um, but not only that right now, we're still, yes, we're, we're up in numbers, but I just don't think that we have, um, enough numbers to cover the amount of games that we have.

Nate Acosta (44m 35s):

We're, we're barely making it now. Um, but would Dana and I love to have seven person and mechanics. Absolutely. Um, and same thing with basketball and three person. I know that the board this year passed, um, that all a three person mechanics at all levels, um, it's probably going to get amended to just two eight through six, eight, I mean, two eight through five eight. But, um, with that being said, um, we're sure we haven't figured out how we're going to cover those games. Uh, you know, and schools are going to have to work kind of like they do with football moving days and, and, and kind of spreading that out so that we do have enough Officials.

Nate Acosta (45m 12s):

Uh, so moving forward, I think that Dana was about to say that we would love to see the seven person mechanics and, and that extra official three and baseball and three in softball. And, and unfortunately just those numbers just don't allow for us to have that, to have that at this time.

Dana Pappas (45m 34s):

You, you spoke for me perfectly, sorry, sorry about my laggy internet. Um, yeah, so that's exactly right. We would love to see seven. I think that, you know, going forward, if we can start doing some training for seven, even though we can't, um, and it's probably a wise decision, um, but we, right now, we wouldn't have the numbers to cover it statewide. And, and we always have to look at that equity and make sure that we're doing things the same and offering the same across the state. So, you know, we'll continue to look at it because you're right football, you know, spread off and it's all of that good stuff.

Dana Pappas (46m 9s):

You can't officiate it effectively anymore with five Officials. But I think on the other side, there is some education that can take place with coaches and Officials, so they understand why calls or a person or a four person crew, which we use a lot in our state still. So I think if we can continue to educate and also, you know, trying to get coaches involved with bringing in new Officials w so that we have the numbers to be able to, and obviously we need, and the economy to be a little bit better in school budgets to be a lot better so that we can financially for them.

Dana Pappas (46m 44s):

But, you know, we're, we're never going to say absolutely not to something. When we know it benefits kids at the end of the day and a seven person crew and football, or a three person crew and baseball and softball would definitely be beneficial to the participants. So, It just comes To get more Laura Officials and hopefully stabilize school budgets to be able to make that happen. So, um, we're always, we're all yours though.

Nate Acosta (47m 10s):

And the, and the best thing that we can do as Officials, um, in order to promote the extra official or to Officials and any sport is to one show the benefit by the practice of it and, and, and B being proficient in it. You know, I can tell you that The up until, you know, where years ago when I started at the enemy, uh, there are still a lot of coaches that, that just didn't want three person mechanics it's in the sport of basketball.

Nate Acosta (47m 40s):

And, you know, now as time has, is evolved and we've shown that the system truly works, um, just like it would in football. Um, but it's taken some time, you know, for them to trust that system. And, and so really the best thing that we can do is, like, Dana said, let's train and let's prepare, and let's get as proficient as we can in, in seven person mechanics. Obviously we're not going to be able to practice it. Um, but however, we can do that. Um, and then when we go out there, it's almost, you know, like, Oh, wow.

Nate Acosta (48m 15s):

Right. You know, it's that much better. So, yeah.

Ken Adent (48m 19s):

Hey, Dennis thanks for asking that question. We're, we're always going to try to push the envelope. Um, w we only have time for really one more question, and I'm, it's the question we're all dying to hear. Um, are we going to have a false Ford's and there are States around us that are opening up and you can, you, can you kind of lead us out of this?

Nate Acosta (48m 40s):

This is how it's gonna happen. Dana above, it's above my pay grade. So that's Dana

Dana Pappas (48m 47s):

So it's above mine too, but, well, I'll give it a The old college try. So in listening to our executive director, Sally Marquez does a Q and a every Monday. And it's a question that she gets asked every Monday, as far as is there going to be fall sports? And her answer is the same as mine, and that, or mine is the same as that's. And that we are very hopeful hold that it will. Um, you know, we are at the Liberty, of course, of the governor and the PED and CEC.

Dana Pappas (49m 21s):

This is the guidelines and all of that. We hope, um, that there will be, I just think it would be so sad to not have a fall sports season. It was so rough not having a spring. Um, you know, we've talked a little bit about summer regulations. That was part of our enemy board meeting last week, and the enemy having some oversight on summer, which we don't generally, because this is just so different. There will be a little bit more involvement is my understanding. Yeah. Um, so we hope that we can't give you a definite cause we just don't know.

Dana Pappas (49m 55s):

There's so many decisions that have to come, you know, above are above our heads for that to

Ken Adent (50m 3s):

Dana that, wasn't the question on the,

Dana Pappas (50m 6s):

I know that wasn't the answer you wanted.

Ken Adent (50m 9s):

Thank you. That wasn't a question we really wanted, but we threw it in there. Um, so

Nate Acosta (50m 14s):

Hey, you guys, you guys forgot to ask me who my mentor was. We know who it was. It's Ken Oh, now come on. I honestly, it's been Dana. I wanted to you guys, and it's been Dana um, from the very first time that I started officiating, um, I went to a basketball camp at Tucson and, um, she happened to be, it was the first time I had met Dana and, uh, she comes to me and she goes, you know what, you have it. And I go, Matt, you know, I been my first, it was my first camp I'd ever been too.

Nate Acosta (50m 48s):

And Bob Schoolfield and Chris Ref sadder there. And, and, uh, you know, and, and Dana goes, you have it, you know? And so, you know, but that was kind of, you know, that that's kind of the relationship that she builds with all, Officials not just her now assistant. And, and now that I'm in the office, I'm telling you, uh, everything that I learned on a daily basis is, is unbelievable. Um, you know, she's taught me officiating, she's taught me life and she's taught me, uh, professionalism and, and an office life, uh, the hardest adjustment for me, um, going to the NMN, who was, was definitely the, was the transition from officiating to being, you know, on the admin side.

Nate Acosta (51m 35s):

And, and so that transition has been, you know, it's been a work in progress. It's getting better, but it's definitely with the mentor, you know, with the mentorship of, of Dana, you know, and, and 23 years later, people are still yelling at me about their rating. So it, the job

Dennis Barela (51m 60s):

Does it change and it comes with the job. Yeah. What's my rate. And then don't say zero, cause you can't get any lower than that. All I know, I believe that your state eligible,

Nate Acosta (52m 11s):

But if you missed a meeting, you're dropping down the playoff.

Dennis Barela (52m 15s):

Yeah. I appreciate your, uh, your, your guys's, um, time. We don't want to take too much more Dana has to get on another webinar, but just so you know, the work, this is the 24th webinar we've done. We appreciate your Support. Um, when, when we came to you, you guys asked the question, well, what do we have to do? Nothing. Just give me the list of the emails for every football official in the state.

Dennis Barela (52m 48s):

And that, that made it so, so easy for us. Um, because you guys just letters, let us run with it. Um, we're going to take a couple of weeks off. We're going to start, uh, June 15th with, um, summer webinars. We're gonna run one a week. We're going to go about eight to 10 weeks, just depending on, on how we feel with agenda. Um, if you guys feel like we need to adjust that, um, give us some feedback, any feedback that you get from any Officials through your office, please let us know.

Dennis Barela (53m 20s):

And then hopefully we hit the field in September.

Dana Pappas (53m 28s):

I sure hope so, guys, thank you so much again. I know. I've am I frozen again? No, you're good. No, you're good. Okay. Thank you guys so much for everything I know I've thanked you until you're probably sick of hearing me say thank you, but it, this has just been tremendous and thank you for being our inspiration for getting the ball rolling and other sports. Well, it's really been beneficial for everyone and that this is what it's and you guys have been catalysts and really, uh, a really unusual situation for some really good change.

Dana Pappas (54m 3s):

So thank you for everything that you've done for us. We really appreciate it.

Ken Adent (54m 9s):

Dana Pappas Nate Acosta thank you guys. Have a good night.

Show artwork for Behind The Flag

About the Podcast

Behind The Flag
Welcome to the Behind The Flag PodCast. We are a group of dedicated men and women who strive to provide professional high school football officiating; where we officiate high school football at all levels of play. We are New Mexico Football Officials certified through the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) and New Mexico Official Association (NMOA). If you are a fan of football and interested in learning a different aspect of the sport; please join us and become part of the experience.

Podcast/Webinars are Sponsored by
Get It Right Enterprises LLC

Ratings & Reviews on Apple Podcast:

If you officiate...a must listen
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
“This is a great podcast if you are interested in improving your officiating understanding and skill. Great knowledge shared by top officials in all levels from HS to NFL.”
Seminoles@NM via Apple Podcasts · United States of America · 08/26/20
Support The Show

About your hosts


Profile picture for BEHIND THE FLAG
Stay engaged with high school football officiating with two high school football officials discussing NFHS rules, film breakdown, mechanics and philosophy. Listen to experienced guest and mentors that will help you become a better official, understand rules, and be a better communicator.

Dennis Barela

Profile picture for Dennis Barela
New Mexico High School Football Official, Central Region, Line Of Scrimmage.
DII Collegiate Football Official, Line of Scrimmage

Ken Adent

Profile picture for Ken Adent
New Mexico High School Football Official, Central Region, Back Judge.
DII Collegiate Football Official, Back Judge, Field Judge, Side Judge.