It’s the biggest day of the year for not just high school football teams in North Dakota, but football officials as well.
Jason Bachmeier has been an NDHSAA Official for 25 years, and he’s on the crew officiating the 9B State Title game. While this is his first-time refereeing a game at the FargoDome, it’s not his first time on this stage.
“My first emotion were alright that’s pretty cool,” says Bachmeier. “My second one was I went back to some of the guys that never got the chance like Guy. One of my football mentors Bruce Both never got to ref a state championship game. I had a chance to talk to him about and it and thank him for that. But there’s a lot of the guys that I learned from that never got this chance so it’s not just me going there, it’s all of them with me.”
He began refereeing to stay involved in sports after his playing career, with Guy Hatlsted helping him get started while they were both at Towner High School.
“He worked at the high school when I was at high school and we became better friends after I graduated and played softball together and we officiated for 25 years together,” says Bachmeier. “I got to officiate his last football game and got to officiate his last football game with him and his last basketball game with him, so it’s been a friendship that’s been there for years.”
“He was like me, he liked the sport and just to continue on,” says Guy Hatlestad. “One way to continue on it is to officiate.”
Over their more than two decades of officiating together, Bachmeier learned valuable lessons about doing the job well outside of just enforcing the rules.
“Just enjoy yourself,” says Bachmeier. “Have some fun. Do the job and take it serious and do it to the best of your ability because the kids deserve it.”
“You’ve just got to treat everybody with respect of the game, and they’ll respect you back,” says Hatlestad. “Once you do a few games, like we did, you’ll teach them that you can’t do this, you can’t do that, and once I taught him that stuff, he just took off.”
Bachmeier returns to Fargo this year 30 years after playing in the state championship as an All-State linebacker .”
“We were the last team when we played in the championship game to play outdoors,” says Bachmeier. “So the FargoDome wasn’t ready yet, until the following year, so we played outside at Valley City State, so yeah, it’s pretty cool that 30 years later, I get to go to the DakotaBowl and officiate.”
Another interesting note for Bachmeier officiating on this year’s crew, one of his high school teammates Cory Volk is also here today as an assistant coach for the Century Patriots playing later tonight.