WHS grad enjoys world of officiating
Travis Bain, a 2007 Wahkiakum graduate, was working as an alternate referee for a boy's consolation game at the State B Tournament in Spokane on Saturday. He was on the floor refereeing a 1B championship game later that day.
The last time Travis Bain set foot on the floor at the State B Tournament at the Spokane Arena was as a Wahkiakum High School senior and Mule in the 2007 championship game against Northwest Christian.
This past weekend, exactly 10 years later, was the first time he stepped on the floor as a referee.
"It was the anniversary of our loss to Northwest Christian," Bain said, "and a little bittersweet and ironic to be back there."
After graduating from high school in 2007, Bain attended Central Washington University to study business management. It was a friend who suggested he try working as a referee to make a little extra money.
"I don't know how to ref," Bain told his friend.
His friend told him he would figure it out.
The next thing he knew he was refereeing a JV game in Ellensburg.
"I had no idea what I was doing," Bain laughed. "My friend told me to just focus on fouls and traveling, so I did."
He got better. The job ended up being a good one and it lasted all four years of college. It allowed him to work a couple hours a day whenever he wanted. Eventually, he gained some experience working softball and baseball games too.
After graduating, he no longer needed the bonus money and he stopped refereeing games.
"I didn't realize how much I missed it when I hadn't done it for a couple seasons," Bain said.
When he got a sales job with a flexible schedule, he returned to the court.
"I did it in college for money but got back into it for a hobby," Bain said.
He's a member of the high school referee association in Seattle.
"We cover everything from the 1B schools to the 4A," he said. "I think there are like 50 schools, everywhere from Everett down to Sea-Tac. I cover college basketball and recreational games too. I did a fair amount of junior high this year, to give back to the association, because we are hurting for numbers right now. All over the state we're hurting for officials."
It's not unknown for Bain to follow two junior high games with a varsity game in one night.
He came back because he loves the game of basketball. He admits he would be going to games or watching it on TV, but this way, he's as close to the game as he can get.
It also allows him to compete in a different way, this time with himself.
"You compete with yourself to get better every game, to get every play right and to advance, whether it is to the post season, or moving up to the college level," Bain said.
This is the first time he has worked at the state tournament.
"It was a cool accomplishment," Bain said. "I got to work district and regionals, and then state."
This means he has worked the postseason, which means his career as a ref has advanced. And while teams are competing at the state tournament, moving through the brackets, the referees are doing much the same.
They get their schedules for the first two days, according to Bain, and while they are there, they are being evaluated. Good refereeing will move them on to semifinal and championship games. Bain was selected to be a member of the team to ref the 1B championship game.
Strangely enough, Bain worked alongside a ref who had worked the championship game that he had played in 10 years earlier.
"It was amazing," Bain said of the State B Tournament. "It was amazing and exhausting. I did eight games in four days, plus three as an alternate. You are buttoned up and hustling because you are being evaluated. It was fun at the same time too. It was a little surreal, the last time I was on the court, I was playing."
Bain attends camps during the summer to improve. He has moved up into the ranks of junior college and small college and hopes to reach Division II in the near future. As a member of the high school association, he is trying to recruit more referees.
This Thursday and Friday he will be working the junior college championships.
"I just want to work my games and get better as an official," Bain said.
Bain is the son of Barb and Greg Bain of Cathlamet.