As a student at SUNY Potsdam, Jamie Luckie was encouraged by his soccer coach, Jim Rishe, to officiate high school basketball. He started calling junior varsity, junior high and CYO games as a college senior in 1983.
After establishing himself as one of the best in referees in the area at the high school, junior college and NCAA Division lll level for 12 years, Luckie decided that he wanted to make officiating his profession.
After attending officials camps at various places in the Northeast he was advised by veteran Division I officials to move south. He settled in Charlotte, N.C., and was hired by the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1996.
Over the years he has earned assignments in several of the power conferences in the country and has called games in three NCAA Division I Final Fours.
Through all of that Luckie has retained membership in the north country’s Board 47 and on Friday he began directing the first Take Charge Officiating Camp at St. Lawrence University which is running in conjunction with the SLU Team Camp.
The Take Charge camp was established to provide officials at all levels with the opportunity to better themselves, improve their schedule and pursue their hopes to move to the next level.
The camp’s staff includes several Division I officials and the experience of 10 NCAA Final Fours between Luckie, retired official Mike Kitts, who now serves as supervisor of officials for the MAAC Conference, and Pat Driscoll.
The staff also shows a strong north country flavor. Ogdensburg native Nate Farrell of Albany is now working the Atlantic 10, the Patriot League, the America East Conference and the MAAC and awaiting a call from the Big East. Another Ogdensburg native, camp administrator Michael Luckie, is working the Big South and the Colonial Conference. Other staff members are Division I officials Rob Lozier, Jerry Heater and Jeff Anderson and longtime official and Section 10 assignor Tom Luckie Jr.
“We are proud to offer the first camp of its kind in Northern New York. There is tremendous opportunity out there this weekend.” Luckie said.
The camp drew 45 officials who will work the SLU Team Camp games throughout the weekend. While working games, the officials are in radio contact with observers. Immediately after the games, videos of the officials’ performance are broken down.
One of the major points of emphasis at the camp is the communication between officials and coaches.
“The hardest part of officiating is getting the acceptance and the trust of coaches,” Luckie said. “You have to have that to make it as a college official.”
Luckie, Kitts and ECAC Supervisor Tom Reinisch provided lectures on the subject and the camp staff welcomed retired SUNY Potsdam coach Jerry Welsh to address the officials.
In his 55th year of involvement in athletics and education Welsh, also a former head coach at Division I Iona, teaches a coaching class at Duke University and scouts collegiate talent for the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA.
Welsh urged the officials to be prepared to make a good impression the second they step on the court and be ready to learn from every available source.
“John Wooden, one of the greatest coaches ever, said when you are through learning, you are through,” Welsh said.
“Make sure that you are better today than you were yesterday. In the heat of the battle coaches sometimes get carried away but we all know that in the course of the game officials will make fewer mistakes than the coaches and the players.”
Welsh advised the officials that there are three things that coaches cannot abide. Officials who are lazy, arrogant or who don’t know the rules.
“I’m 78 years old but I am still learning everyday,” he said. “Learn from these great officials.”
Lisbon native Andy Akins, who works ECAC Division III and high school games in the Albany area, thought that he learned a great deal from the first day of the camp.
“I have worked with Jamie Luckie down the Charlotte area but to see all this happening up here is fantastic,” Akins said.
“There are great officials and coaches here and everyone is so receptive when anyone needs any advice. Every official working Division III wants to get to Division I. I learned from Jamie how tricky it is. He has showed us that you have to be very good and very patient.”