Officials Hall of Fame: Albert Rodriguez

Hall of Fame – 2014


My journey began in the mid 80’s in a class B high school located in Gothenburg, NE.  Many of you may remember that teams in the western part of the state, such as Gering and Alliance, dominated Nebraska wrestling during this era.  Competing against Nebraska’s top wrestlers and teams, allowed me to understand what this great sport had to offer.  Wrestling has taught me many life lessons, as it does most wrestlers; mostly I wanted an opportunity to repay the sport in some capacity.

Shortly after college, I married my wonderful wife Debra and I also began my professional career in Omaha.  During a discussion with one of my colleagues, he shared with me that he had officiated high school wrestling. The discussion grew as I asked many questions; I was very intrigued by the possibility of officiating wresting.  My colleague gave me the contact information of Mr. Joe Bateman, who at that time was the coordinator for the Omaha Metro Wrestling Officials Association.  In 1996, I contacted Mr. Joe Bateman; he recommended that I become a member of the Omaha Metro Wrestling Officials Association and attend the meetings regularly.   Early on meeting were very helpful with mat situations and rule clarifications, however where the meetings paid massive dividends were in its members.  Mr. Paul Martinez and Mr. Dave Walton had taken me under their wings to illustrate the rigorous requirements of what being a good wrestling official entailed.  These two individuals provided me with a robust learning medium which in turn lead to a strong foundation.  I could not ask for a better set of teachers to assist in shaping my career as a wrestling official. More importantly, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Walton became my friends and they both have helped me in every aspect in my life.

My first matches were the “little guys”, club wrestling in the Omaha Metro.  There is one thing that holds true about club wrestling; there is nothing cuter than a little kid in a singlet. They show up to the mat with their fake mean faces and Kool-Aid mustaches ready to do battle. Things progressed very quickly as I began working high school varsity matches throughout the state of Nebraska. In 1999, my personal life became very exciting as Debra and I became the very proud parents of twin girls: Sydney and Erica. While I was progressing with my professional career and starting a family, my peers voted me as the President of the Metro Omaha Wrestling Officials Association; this was a cabinet that I held for two consecutive years.  In early 2002 a group of officials, me included, began discussing the need for a referee’s clinic to be conducted by an outside official/clinician. After several conversations, numerous phone calls and favors being called in; I was able to organize and execute a clinic conducted by long time NCAA wrestling official Mr. Jim Ramirez.  The clinic took place in September of 2002 at the Omaha Skutt wrestling building.  The clinic was a huge success and provided additional knowledge to those in attendance.

A job change in 2003 would require that my family and I relocate to Lincoln, NE.  I saw this as an opportunity to assist with the development of a wrestling officials association in Lincoln.  I contacted Mr. Rusty Hunt, a tenured and quality official in Lincoln.  With the help of Rusty and his wife, Karen, we created the Star City Wrestling Officials Association.  Over the last 10 years the Star City Wrestling Officials Association has provided leadership opportunities for tenured officials, assisted in mentoring young officials and provided an outlet for all wrestling officials in the Lincoln area to improve their avocation.  The 2003-04 was a very exciting year for me; not only did it hold a job change, relocation, the creation of an officials association and it was also the first year I was invited to work the Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament at the Devaney in Lincoln. The intensity of the Friday night semi-finals and the tingling sensation from the Parade of Champions are a couple of highlights that make the Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament an awesome spectacle. The goal of all wrestlers is to earn the opportunity to compete at state, however not all wrestlers receive that opportunity.  The goal of wrestling officials is to be on the mat at the state championships in February; however they only hire 20-24 officials.  I have been very fortunate as I completed my tenth consecutive year in 2012-13 as an official at the Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament.

I want to thank my family for supporting me throughout the wrestling seasons.  I also thank the many friends, coaches, officials, administrators, parents and wrestlers that I have interacted with over the years.  Life is an interesting journey with many turns and unexpected consequences, however wrestling has prepared me to grapple with change.  I am honored to participate in the greatest sport in the world.

Yours in Wrestling,

Introduced by fellow official Paul Martinez


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