3/21/20 was supposed to mark the State Boys Basketball Championships and the 11th Annual MSHSL Official's Awards Ceremony to both individuals and associations.  As we all know this is not the case due to COVID-19 and our "new normal".  

 

Mike Graf was to be recognized for receiving the MSHSL Distinguished Service Award.  Mike will officially receive his award from MSHSL at a later date.


Mike was a 28 year member of RAOA and a 30 year MSHSL registered official.  Mike's focus sport was football and he also umpired softball for a number of years during his tenure.  Mike served RAOA as the Secretary-Treasurer from 1993-2014, MSHSL Football Charter Clinician from 1995-2011, and MSHSL Football Regional Coordinator for SE MN 2012-present.

As secretary/treasurer, Mike oversaw the business side of the Association including all assignments for Volleyball, Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Softball from 1993-2002. From 2002-2016, Mike was responsible for Football assignments. Mike was instrumental in transferring assignments from spreadsheets to Arbiter Sports in 2005. We are currently still with Arbiter Sports today. Mike also initiated our first association website. Mike was responsible for our association becoming incorporated in 1999. In conclusion, Mike kept moving the association forward for over two decades. He helped move RAOA from a pen and paper association to the new era of technology for assigning, education, and communication.

 

Besides assigning, Mike officiated lower level and varsity games. Often times with the lower level games, Mike would mentor younger officials. Countless officials have credited Mike Graf with their beginning in football. Today Mike continues to give back by reviewing each varsity crew of RAOA via Hudl during the season. He views their game and makes notes on Hudl so the crew can use to improve going forward. He has done this the past two years.

 

Mike has also gone out with younger varsity crews since retirement from the field to “ride along”, help with the pre-game, observe, and post-game. The guidance provided by Mike to these younger crews is invaluable. In 2019, Mike was also the Referee Group Trainer. Thus, he communicated with RAOA’s Referees all season whether it be by email, a play clip, a philosophy, or a ruling on a play. A direct resource for our Referees.

 

For a number of years Mike also umpired softball starting out at the UV level and eventually working varsity softball. Admittedly, Mike said that softball was not his strongest sport however; his approach to the game was methodical just like football. He always kept the game first for the student-athletes and coaches. Mike’s professionalism both on the field and off the field was a model for all other officials. 

Past RAOA recipients include: 

  • Jon Springer--Distinguished Service Award-2010

  • RAOA-Citation Award for the Mentorship Program-2010

  • Don Pankowski--Distinguished Service Award-2013

  • Mj Wagenson--Distinguished Service Award-2014

  • RAOA-Citation Award for Training Programs-2014

  • Char Robinet--Distinguished Service Award-2015

  • RAOA-Association of Excellence Award-2015

  • Jerry Kittleson--Distinguished Service Award-2016

  • Derald "Buck" Severson--Distinguished Service Award-2017

  • Loren Else--Distinguished Service Award-2019

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