Norm Holden, an official for 35 years, has served as President, Secretary, and Interpreter during his tenure as an official for Suffolk Track Officials. He acted as the referee in the state qualifier for over 10 years and represented Suffolk Track Officials at many NYS Championships. Norm Holden was the first Rules Interpreter that represented both the Boys and Girls Track Officials Organization paving the way for a clear and consistent interpretation to all of Suffolk’s coaches and providing consistent training for new officials. Norm could always be counted on for very accurate timing even in his later years of officiating. He was always spot on and very close to the fully automatic timing mark.
The Suffolk Coaches Association award a yearly scholarship that bears his name to a male athlete from the Winter track season. You know you must to be a really outstanding official and person to have a coaches association name an award after an official.
Patti Knappe started officiating in 1976. Forty-six years later she is still working which indicates just how dedicated and hard-working she is as an official. She was a pioneer in officiating girls track when the sport was in its infancy. Knappe was a two-time President of the Girls Association in the 1980s. She also served in the same capacity when the boys and the girls associations merged in the 2007. In addition, she served for many years as the State Association’s Secretary. Knappe is always respectful to everyone and goes out of her way to help anyone in need of assistance during a meet. Her judgement is impeccable when timing, calling infractions, and how she deals with very anxious athletes or sometimes angry coaches. Even after “retiring” from officiating, she answered the call when there were official shortages during the worst of COVID-19.
To date, Mrs. Knappe has officiated over 85 State Championships (Indoor & Outdoor), mostly in the key role of chief clerk. Along with Norm Holden, the Suffolk Coaches Association gives out a scholarship that bears her name to a female athlete from the Winter track season.
John “Fred” McGee was a charter member of the Suffolk Track Officials in 1964. He served as President from 1975-77 and again from 1983-1985. He was a trusted advisor and teacher to fellow officials, coaches and athletes during his entire tenure as an official. Fred McGee was one of the premier starters not only in Suffolk but also throughout the state. For countless years it was a tradition that he started the St. Anthony’s Invitational. As the years went on Fred also became an excellent pole vault official working locally and at many State Championships. It was not uncommon to see athletes gathering around Fred on a Saturday as he removed a miniature pole from his briefcase and went over some of the finer points of the rules for the Pole Vault. Fred McGee was the epitome of the “gentleman” official. Fred was a true leader, both on and off the track. He was a lifelong educator. He spent many years in the Commack School District, rising to the position of Principal of Commack High School. Fred was a well-respected military leader, serving our armed forces during the Korean War where he rose through the ranks and retired as a Colonel in the Marines.
Jan O’Shea- Jan advocated for progressive action by local school districts to comply with Title IX in the early days after it’s passage. She was a founding member and served as President of Girls’ Track and Field at both the local and state level. O’Shea was President at the state level from the late 1970s through the 1980s until the Boys and Girls State Associations merged. She was the rules interpreter and referee at the state level for many years. In addition to officiating track and field, O’Shea has worked in the sports of volleyball, field hockey, softball and was the first female Varsity Football Official on Long Island. Jan left Suffolk County Track Officials in 1990 but continued to officiate Track and Field in Section IV area of Binghamton/Southern Tier, continuing to work state meets. In total, O’Shea officiated state meets for five decades from the 1970s up until 2021 when she retired.
Bill Shelly began his officiating career in the 1960s. From there he established himself as one of the best officials to work meets in Suffolk County. His hard work and superior officiating skills earned him the 1991 New York State Track and Field Official of the Year. Even at the end of his career, Shelly was still working as the chief referee at Suffolk County Track and Field championships. What Bill is best remembered for was his work at “The Meadow”. From 1983 to 2003 he was course coordinator at Sunken Meadow State Park. In honor of his dedication, the Suffolk Coaches Association built a scoreboard bearing his name at the park for his retirement. Upon his retirement, Shelly was honored with a lifetime membership in the Suffolk Track Officials Organization. This is a very special honor for a small number of top-rated officials over the years.
John Quigley was a long time official in Suffolk County and the New York City area. He was known for his work as a starter, a position of great importance in a meet. Quigley worked back in the days when Winter Track meets, including championship meets, were held outdoors. He would allow athletes to wear their sweats for as long as possible to stay warm. “Alright gentlemen, strip down and remember, I am going to hold you,” he would say at the start of each race. The seriousness in his voice had everyone rush to take off their sweats and get ready to run. Quigley didn’t hold the runners for a particularly long amount of time, but he did want them to relax and avoid a false start. Like many officials, Quigley was a runner himself. He ran for Bishop Loughlin in the city back in the late 1930s. In 1939, he received a full scholarship to Manhattan College and had dreams of being an Olympian. His best event was the 440yd run where he set a record of 47.2 (46.9 – 400m) that stood until 1954. Quigley ran for two years before being drafted to fight in WWII. While serving, he was a highly decorated soldier for his heroics. He was even taken prisoner by the Germans for a period of time. Luckily, he survived, came home, and managed to finish his degree in 1948.
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