Action County: Kyle Gardner |

Action County: Kyle Gardner

FRANCIS WICKsummit daily newsSummit County CO Colorado
Special to the DailyAction County: Kyle Gardner

Harrassment isn’t something people usually sign up for, but that’s not true of local Kyle Gardner, who devotes time to refereeing flag football and basketball leagues at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. A resident of the county for the past seven years, he has been refereeing leagues in the county for the past six. Gardner got his first ref gig back in college while studying economics and environmental studies at St. Lawrence University in New York. He said started officiating intramural basketball and soccer because it was a good job for a freshman, and it helped him do his part in the community. According to Gardner, being a ref isn’t the easiest job because you’ll never make everyone happy. He said the worst part “is that you’re usually always wrong, meaning somebody doesn’t always agree with the call.”

Even if he’s not always the most popular guy on the court, Gardner enjoys the social aspect of his job. “The best part is seeing the same people come out year after year and enjoying the camaraderie, because 99 percent of the time everyone is out there to have a good time, and so am I.”Gardner does continual training to be an official so that he’s game-ready. “I sometimes ref C league games at the high school and that helps to sharpen my skills. You want to be sharp because you only have one chance to make a call and if you miss it there is no getting it back. When you miss a call things can escalate pretty quickly. It’s important to keep control of the game,” he said.

Part of that is dealing with different personalities on the court. A difficult aspect to refereeing is dealing with the “weekend warrior.” “I know 40- and-50-year-olds who play and complain against calls as if it were their last game in high school. So, ignoring gestures and mutters underneath one’s breath is essential to the job. For me, in life you want to keep an even keel emotionally, and so I let a lot roll off my skin. I just think you have to.”The thing that keeps Gardner coming back is the challenge and reward of officiating. He gets a lot of people that come up and express their appreciation for a job well done.

Gardner tries to give that feeling back to the community. As a contractor during the day (Gardner owns High Peaks Enterprises Incorporated), he devotes much of his free time to athletics. Gardner occasionally puts on the after-school basketball camps for kids. He believes in the benefits of sport. “Participating in sports makes for a healthier community and provides better than the alternative,” he said. Recently, Gardner has become the unofficial ping-pong pro, but he is proposing that it be an official position at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. Currently he’s running the ping-pong challenge night at the rec center and is hoping to hold a ping-pong tournament in March.

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