Dick Shoults has spent almost a lifetime officiating high school sports in Johnson County. But Shoults, a Lenexa resident, didn’t want to say exactly how long. Needless to say, it’s impressive. “Let’s just say that it’s over 30 years,” he said.
He played basketball and baseball at Wyandotte High School, graduating in 1969. The 61-year-old was on three Bulldogs state championship basketball teams.
He said he got involved in officiating because of people like Clyde Strimple and Mike Etnire. Strimple was a longtime football official and coached football at Wyandotte before becoming an official.
Etnire has been officiating and umpiring for more years than he wants to admit. He is the commissioner of the Sunflower, East Kansas and Kaw Valley leagues. The commissioner is in charge of assigning officials.
“Shoults has the best judgment of any official I have had in the 30 years I have been commissioner,” Etnire said. “He is definitely unorthodox on the court, but it is always for the benefit of the players on the court.”
Shoults said of his officiating, “I always try to encourage good play, preventing fouls and violations by communicating with the student athletes in a positive manner.”
Aquinas boys basketball coach Sean Reilly said, “He is one of the true personalities/characters left in the game. So many people forget the human and fun element involved, and Dick brings that to the forefront. I believe that he always does what is in the best interest of the athletes.
“For instance, Dick will always talk to the kids in the first quarter, telling them hands off, move your feet on defense, etc. I perceive that as not wanting a kid to get too many early fouls and then have to sit most of the game. In the second, third and fourth quarters, he will call it straight up. I appreciate that.”
Basketball isn’t the only sport that Shoults works. He is an official in football and volleyball and an umpire in softball. He has worked a number of state tournament basketball games in his long career.
His full-time job is a pharmaceutical representative for Johnson & Johnson.
So what keeps the former Wyandotte Bulldog in officiating after so many years?
“I love what high school activities mean to student athletes, school spirit and the community,” he said. “Activities were such an important part of my upbringing and my daughters’. This is my small way of giving back.”