BLOOMINGTON – The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is proud to announce its 2019-20 Officials of the Year in 22 IHSA sports.
Patti Blumhorst of Mendota has been chosen as the Volleyball Official of the Year.
To be considered for this honor, an official must first be nominated by an Officials Association recognized by the IHSA. IHSA staff members then vote on the winners based on factors such as character, skill as an official, and levels worked in the IHSA State Series.
Blumhorst began her officiating career after graduating from college in 1985. At the time, there was no formal training or local associations to help get officials started or to learn the rules and mechanics, so she gave it up after one season.
Then in 1992 while working for Martin Engineering in Neponset, she was approached by Vicki DeMay of Princeton, a state volleyball official and mentor, who persuaded Blumhorst to give officiating another try. Four years later, she refereed her first regional tournament at Lena-Winslow.
In 2000, Blumhorst started the Illinois Valley Officials Association (IVVOA) with two fellow volleyball officials because there were no local associations for training and recruiting. The IVVOA has grown from four members to over 50 members today from throughout northern Illinois. Blumhorst currently serves as president.
Blumhorst has now worked five state tournaments – two as a line judge and three as a floor official. She was the head official on three state championship games. She has also officiated numerous Illinois Elementary School Association state tournaments and has been the officials’ coordinator at the IESA state tournament the past four years.
In addition, Blumhorst has officiated USAVB club ball for nearly 10 years, has been an IHSA volleyball clinician for 10 years, putting on IHSA clinics several times a year, including the state clinic. She also is an assignor for nearly 40 junior high and high schools throughout northern Illinois for the spring and fall seasons.
“I love the game of volleyball, having played, coached and officiated it,” said Blumhorst. “I love working with new officials and getting them started in the officiating world.
“I was very fortunate to be taken under the wing of many great volleyball officials when I started the second time, like Vicki DeMay, Linda Vanderleest, Karen Taylor, Jackie Woodley, Vicki Litherland and many of the veterans in the Princeton/Sheffield/Geneseo area.
“I am blessed with so many wonderful officials in the area who have become some of my best friends. And I am thankful for my family’s flexibility and support, and to the IHSA for this honor.”
Blumhorst also passed her passion for the game down to two of her children, Chance and Brianne, who have both been IHSA registered volleyball officials.
This year’s Official of the Year winners will be recognized at a banquet during the 2020 IHSA Officials Conference, which will be held on Saturday, July 11 at Normal Community West High School.
"Thank you to all IHSA officials who dedicate their time and talent to high school athletics in Illinois,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director and Officials Department administrator Sam Knox. "We understand that these individuals do not officiate for awards or recognition, but it remains a very special tradition for the IHSA to be able to honor its Officials of the Year. Congratulations to these deserving individuals.”