Game Grower Spotlight: Lee Spitzer
Editor’s Note: Welcome to our third Game Grower Spotlight for 2014. Here at Lacrosse All Stars, our mission has been to Grow The Game since day one. Not only is it our passion to Grow The Game, but we recognize it is the goal of countless others across the world. We want to take the time to honor those that make up the backbone of the lacrosse community, and this week we honor Lee Spitzer of Columbus, OH.
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Lee Spitzer is one of those guys that when he walks up to a field, or you hear him begin to speak about lacrosse, he has your full attention. After listening to him talk with such an obvious understanding and respect for the game, it doesn’t take long for Lee to gain your respect.
Lee trained me as an official when I was just a freshman in high school. I’m sure he was weary of my age, but respecting that my father was an official for 25+ years in other sports, he gave us both the blessing to become lacrosse refs together. He taught the class and trained me for four years before I relocated to Cincinnati, then again when I was working toward becoming a college official. He was very critical in my tryout on mechanics and signals and later down the road when being evaluated by Lee, he again was picking out the tiniest flaws in the officiating crew. It wasn’t because Lee was grumpy or wanted to belittle us, he wanted to hold us to a higher standard so that in turn we could grow the game by being the best lacrosse referees that we could be.
Not only is Lee known for teaching officials, he also was the very first coach of the historic Upper Arlington High School lacrosse program and has officiated at the highest levels, collegiately and professionally. What some may not know is that Lee is a very respected wrestling coach and was inducted in to the Ohio Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992, as well as the Ohio Capital Conference HOF in 2011 for his services as wrestling coach for the Upper Arlington Golden Bears.
Lee runs one of the tightest ships I have ever witnessed as far as local high school officiating organizations. Because of his continuous effort to make sure that any official working in the greater Columbus area is upholding the highest level of professionalism and dedication to their craft, I believe Columbus, Ohio does have some of the strongest and most dedicated officials I’ve ever had the chance to work with. This is also because Lee makes sure that the organization meets all year long and that they are available to come together every Sunday throughout lacrosse season. These meetings give the officials an opportunity to ask any questions and to pick the brains of Lee and other top notch officials. Organizations around the world could only be so lucky to have such an opportunity at the current stage of lacrosse.
The following questions were answered by Lee in relation to officiating and his involvement in Columbus with lacrosse.
Please describe the state of lacrosse in your area.
Ohio lacrosse is ever growing and is on the verge of becoming one of OHSAA’s recognized sports.
In what way(s) are you involved with growing the game in your area?
I am the officials trainer for the Central Ohio area. I am also currently a member of the US Lacrosse Men’s Officials Training Group; US Lacrosse Men’s Game District 6 Coordinator and I serve on the US Lacrosse Men’s Game Officials Subcommittee. I have been a lacrosse official at all level (youth through professional) for 30 years.
How did you get involved? Where did you learn about lacrosse?
I became involved in lacrosse as a result of a physical education major activity class at The Ohio State University. I was one four from the class were invited to play on the Ohio State lacrosse team.
What is your favorite thing about our sport? What drew you in?
The camaraderie between all who participate in the sport. The skill set required to be a lacrosse player.
If you could change one thing about our sport, what would it be and why?
I would remove the contact to the head and neck.
Do you have a favorite lacrosse? Favorite player(s)? Why do you like them?
No favorite team or player. I just am a lacrosse junkie who like to watch good teams and players.
What do you do outside of lacrosse? (i.e. school, career, other activities…)
I am a retired coach and physical education teacher. Currently I am the Aquatics and Tennis Manager for the City of Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department.
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment when it comes to helping grow the game in your community?
Training new officials!
What do you think the biggest obstacle for growth of lacrosse is in your area?
The biggest obstacle is the lack of officials.
Who, or what, inspires you most to help grow the game?
It is an opportunity to pay lacrosse back for all that it has given to me.