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Love of the game brought referee back to football

Growing up in Tea and graduating from Lennox High School, Casey Voelker loved to play football.

“Football was always the game I played and loved. That was really the one I gravitated to,” he said.

After going to the University of South Dakota, getting married and living in Harrisburg for four years, Voelker and his wife moved back to Tea. In Tea, they have three children and Voelker serves on the city council and works for Pomp’s Tire Service.

Voelker decided to put his love for football to work on the field. When he first started, he thought he would volunteer to referee South Dakota Junior Football games. He found out those were paid gigs, which was a bonus for a young dad.

Besides love of the game, he also wanted to get some exercise. Now, this football season marks his ninth season as a referee. After getting certified by the state, his first high school game he officiated was a nine-man game between Gayville and Menno.

“I never had any plans to work any high school games, but there was a crew one night and they needed a guy. You have to be registered. It was either me or they worked short-handed,” Voelker said. “I said I’d do it. It was a blast.”

He works a high school and college level game every week during the season. For high school games, he has traveled as far as Pierre, but he and the crew of five he typically works with go wherever the South Dakota High School Activities Association sends them.

For college, they have a group of seven referees that officiate National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). They travel to Sioux City, Mitchell and other cities in the conference for games.

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