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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Drummond celebrates silver anniversary as official

Hernando Today correspondent


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Some fans won't give mat officials the time of day.

Some believe even if an official makes 99 correct calls, but drops the ball on one call, say on their son's or grandson's match, they deserve to get booed.

But refs are people, too.

On the eve of the FHSAA's 50th annual wrestling state finals at The Lakeland Center this weekend, Spring Hill resident Kenneth Alfred Drummond shed light on his life-long hobby - officiating.

Ken, as his friends call him, was born in Long Island, N.Y. as one of five boys to John and Marion Drummond.

The Drummonds relocated to New Port Richey when Ken was 6.

As an avid athlete, Drummond spent an active adolescence participating in baseball, football, basketball and running track and field at Gulf Middle School.

Before matriculating to Gulf High, as an eighth-grader he'd tag along following his older brother, Ricky, to what is now known as the Joe Bever Student Activities Center for the Buccaneers' mat practice under skipper Larry Rhum.

He stayed active in multiple sports until his initial gridiron game of his sophomore junior varsity season.

As a tight end, he suffered a season-ending injury due to a broken left ankle.

Drummond took the news as a signal from above not to continue playing football.

"That broken ankle was a warning to me," recalled the current 6-foot, 182-pound Drummond. "Being young, I rebounded quickly. But that injury basically forced me to do what I had really wanted to do all along - wrestle."

Drummond was a pupil for two varsity mat seasons under Rhum. As a senior, Alvin Davis and his brother, Ricky, served as his GHS coaches.

The West Pasco County grappler was a quick study winning 23 matches both as a sophomore and as a junior.

As a junior, an undetected incomplete in a course prior to wrestling season resulted in him vacating his wins and being ruled academically ineligible.

"I took it (not finishing his junior year) as a wake-up call," explained the 46-year-old Drummond, on the importance of academics. "I realized to get back on the mats I had to concentrate on my studies first. I was not going to allow what happened in my junior year to ruin my senior year."

It didn't. According to Drummond, he carried over a 3.0 grade point average from that point forward.

As a senior in 1985, Drummond reached the FHSAA's elite stage - the Class 4A state finals at Tampa-Leto.

Though Brandon dominated the headlines capturing its first repeat state crown topping North Miami, 91.5-80.0, Drummond carved his way through the 145-pound bracket to the finals against Winter Haven's Jerry Weekfall.

Weekfall edged Drummond (career-best 35-5 overall) via criteria in overtime denying him a gold medal and a place atop of the podium in Polk County.

Though Drummond never won a district or regional individual title, he maxed out on his second chance on the mats.

"I love the sport," insists Drummond. "Sure, it's a team sport, but you've got to pull your weight when it's your turn. In wrestling you're either all in, or all out.

"I love the competition in the circle and even after you compete you can root for your friends and teammates," he added. "It's a sport where what you put in, you get out."

For his efforts, the two-time All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference selection earned a wrestling scholarship with the Division II Pfeiffer University Falcons in Misenheimer, N.C.

In one semester, he finished 8-3 before becoming homesick and returning home and enrolling in Pasco-Hernando Community College.

? ? ?

Over the next 4-5 winters, Drummond served as an assistant wrestling coach to Pete Smith at Ridgewood High.

Feeling a need to branch out, in 1989-90 he and a Ridgewood alumnus, Brian Mowery, joined the West Coast Wrestling Officials.

It's a relationship that has lasted a generation.

"Being a ref is different. It presents a different prospective from being a wrestler or even a coach," noted Drummond.

The first thing that Drummond noticed from some of the particularly 'hot-headed' area coaches was some had not taken the time to read their own rulebook - prior to arguing a call.

Coincidentally, a lot of the coaches who had been around for a while had read the rules.

To this day, he believes every prep coach should put on a striped shirt - to get a better grip on how officials base their decisions.

Drummond has officiated at states three times and will be back at Lakeland next winter.

On whether the best mat officials are at states - a huge point of contention for many of the coaches in attendance - "I can't speak for other associations," explained Drummond. "There are state guidelines our association must adhere to.

"You have to score a certain number on the state exam, you must attend a field clinic every three years and each association has their own evaluations," he added. "Before you do a state tournament you have to have experience at a regional level. Your evaluations and years of experience with the association also play a big part."

Drummond isn't swayed by the pressure at states.

"As long as you can handle the pressure, you'll be fine," emphasized Drummond. "To me, you have to be patient. You may think in an instant that it's a takedown, but by waiting just a little longer, I'm not rushing into what might be a poor decision."

Drummond's keys to success include, he said, "When I step on the mats, I forget about the kids, the wife or work and I just get in the zone. The littlest distraction can be the difference."

The former high school and college grappler, turned-coach, turned-ref explains three critical facets in officiating - not just at the state meet - preventative officiating, stalling calls, and out-of-bounds or edge-of-the-mat calls.

On preventative officiating, "If a coach has a question/concern, I'll hear him out, then make a decision or check with a second official if possible," he said. "We're not robots out there. It's a disservice to the kids and the coaches if we don't hear them out.

"We're human, too. We make mistakes," he said. "If a call is correctable, then it needs to be corrected. We just can't drag things out too long. What has helped me is I'll tell guys to work the center, or remind them they've been hit for stalling once - that kind of preventive officiating helps in the long run."

According to Drummond, stalling is another touchy subject on which most coaches do not have common ground, especially if it's their kid.

"If a guy is not wrestling you've got to make a call," detailed Drummond. "Often times, the toughest question is when do make the call? And should I have banged the kid a minute and half earlier? Or 30 seconds earlier? To me, if you feel it, see it, then call it."

Perhaps the toughest calls occur along the edge of the mat. It's where even the most credentialed grappler may attempt to spring a trap for his unsuspecting opponent awaiting a whistle.

"There's no doubt, the toughest calls at states or anywhere else are the out-of-bounds calls," stressed Drummond. "So many high school kids play the edge. In college, even if your toe is out, you're inbounds. You try to encourage the wrestlers to wrestle in. I've found I can push them toward the center - that helps."

In the college ranks, replays are being allowed. So is the human element being phased out? Will TV/video replays be permitted at the prep level in the near future?

"As of right now, I can't look at video," declared Drummond. "We're not supposed to review anything on tape.

"I don't think video replays will happen. There's a lot more money involved in football and they don't utilize video replays in high school football."

Drummond also addressed the greying of his association. The need for 'new blood' is everywhere, especially among area officials.

"I'm one of the younger guys in my association and maybe our youngest guy is in his early 30s," pointed out Drummond. "The life blood of any organization is its youth. I can't see why some college wrestlers wouldn't want to officiate and earn a few dollars on the side."

Drummond isn't concerned by the boo birds if there's a call the masses object to.

"Instead of booing a call, why won't some folks just come down from the stands and put on one of our shirts?" he said. "They'll find out it's not that easy. I'll personally help educate anyone who wants to join our ranks."

For the past five years, Drummond and his high school buddy, John Mistal, have been partners with Tampa-based American Architectural Foamworks, LLC.

The Gulf duo went into business together with American Building Materials back in 1998, until the housing market caused them to eventually close those doors in 2012.

Drummond and his second wife, Kim, reside in Spring Hill.

Ken's oldest daughters from his first marriage - Kayla and Stephanie - have graduated respectively from Central and Springstead.

The Drummond's household includes 5-year-old Olivia and stepson Christian Arroyo.

Arroyo graduated last summer from Hernando High as was drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the San Francisco Giants.

With his life in a good place, why would Drummond concern himself with a 26th prep season on the mats?

"I certainly don't officiate for the money," he laughed. "It sounds crazy, but being on the mats gives me piece of mind. It gives me a break from the daily grind. It also allows me to follow some of the local kids, teams and coaches. My wife and kids know what I'm doing when I'm officiating. Right now, I'm healthy and have no desire to stop doing it."

By the numbers: Gulf's Ken Drummond

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


1982-83^ 145 23 7 .767

1983-84 145 23 3 .885

1984-85^* 145 35 5 .875

TOTALS 81 15 .844

* Denotes state placer (2nd).

^ Denotes All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference selection.

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