Vic Zimmerman referee

MONTICELLO - It has been a minute since Vic Zimmerman did any kind of officiating. Back in his college days at the University of Illinois, the now 58-year-old “did softball and baseball games, but that was in the ’80s.”

Recently retired after 15 years as the superintendent of Monticello schools (and four years before that at St. Joseph-Ogden), Zimmerman is a rookie football official this season.

“I’m just a huge fan of football, college and high school football,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve been to so many games and played and coached. “

A conversation with Monticello athletic director Dan Sheehan sparked his interest in officiating. “He’s like ‘You ought to be a football ref,’” said Zimmerman, who responded: “I still want to go to games on Fridays.”

“He’s like, ‘But there’s games on Thursdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays.’ "

“I love it. It’s a lot of fun.”

There is a shortage of football officials.

“They’ll even take a rookie,” Zimmerman said. “It gets me out of the house one or two nights a week. That’s fine with my wife (Lori).”

Zimmerman didn’t every week. He and Lori (they’ve been married 33 years) went overseas on vacation.

Zimmerman has worked Junior Football League and high school junior varsity games. He has been a line judge and an umpire.

“I probably won’t do any varsity games my first year,” he said. “I need to be a little more comfortable in my shoes before I head that direction.”

Zimmerman has been impressed with the veteran officials he works with.

“They’re like ‘Hey, on that play, you need to go over here. You did a good job on that.’“ Zimmerman said. “These guys are very willing to help the new guys. I appreciate their help.”

Zimmerman is keeping busy with more than just calling games. After retiring from Monticello, he took a part-time job with the Illinois Association of School Administrators. He is mentoring 25 first-, second- and third-year superintendents.

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