Alvirne’s ‘Bill Mak” answers call to NHIAA’s Hall
It was a special weekend for Alvirne High School, with its football team finally in a state championship game, even though the Broncos came out on the short end.
But that’s not the whole story. It continued on Sunday when, in Concord, longtime game official, assigner and Alvirne athletic figure Bill Makarawicz was inducted into the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Sure, Bill Mak, as he’s more likely known, has done so much for high school athletics over five decades. He was Alvirne’s AD (early 1970s) or assistant AD for a combined 37 years, he’s a softball/baseball umpire assigner, been a football referee assigner, on just about every officiating board you can name. He’s been associated with Alvirne for 52 years, still helping out AD Karen Bonney. And if you sit next to him in a press box, he’ll have some good candy for you as he’s got quite the sweet tooth.
But here’s why you put Bill Mak, 76, a 1960 Nashua High School alum, in any Hall of Fame you can find. He knows the deal as a referee and umpire, and how it’s a no-win situation.
“If you go home (from a game) troubled by something,” he said the other day, “then you probably screwed up.”
Classic slogan. Belongs on a sign or T-shirt somewhere, doesn’t it?
“If you’re thinking that much, then you probably did screw up,” Makarawicz said. “I hate to say it, but we’re not perfect.”
No, but he’s pretty close. It’s virtually impossible to find anyone who doesn’t think the world of Bill Mak. He’s a local gem, certainly worthy of the call from the Hall.
“It was kind of a surprise, but I think it’s probably the ultimate as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “You probably can’t go any further than that.”
But don’t confuse his induction into being put out to pasture. Makarawicz isn’t done. Far from it.
He’s hoping to get elected commissioner of the state football officials association and if that’s the case, you can tell there’s an agenda here. Makarawicz wants to do something about the official shortage.
“The main thing is we need members, like in any association – all of them, basball, softball, it’s just so thin, it’s critical,” Makrawicz said. “Trying to get umpires just to fill in, every day. In football, it’s an age thing right now. We’re going to lose five to 10 good officials every year, because of age, retirment.”
Makarawicz also times games; this fall he’s done it for Bishop Guertin, Sanborn, and Alvirne, and is on call. The last time he was on the field was this past year for scrimmages and a couple of junior varsity games. He’s still umpiring softball, and baseball “only when they need me. We have so many middle school games we cover, I could be doing a baseball or softball game every day.”
Makarawicz is hoping that his Hall of Fame induction may bring awareness to the officials’ shortage, which, by the way, also exists in soccer.
“I would hope so,” he said. “I tried to stress that (in his video interview that they show).”
He thinks football – while the most difficult in his opinion to officiate – is antiquated, having officials required to go to games in jacket and tie, etc. Plus, they’ve made a lot of confusing calls. “I’ve seen a lot of games timing them, and I think the way we’re going about training (officials) is fine, but not good enough,” he said. “I want to make sure every game is covered by at least two really good officials. “I’m finding out a lot of mistakes are being made on the field with calls.”
He also knows that officials are often criticized unfairly by fans and coaches. That, he says, is pushing and prospective umpires, officials, etc. away from doing it.
“They’ll say ‘I want no part of this,'” Makarawicz said. “We know the rules, and probably most of them don’t. You’d like to stop the game but you can’t do that. So you ignore it.”
Sometimes you do get credit. He remembers a game with Spaulding and Manchester Central when then Central coach Jim Schubert said to him, “Thank you very much, that was a good non-call.”
“Those,” Makarawicz said, “are the things you remember.”
So is a day back in the 1970s when Alvirne baseball had to go to Winnacunnet but had no bus driver. AD Bill Mak put himself behind the wheel. The Broncos got to Hampton and discovered they were one umpire short. Bill Mak umped the bases. Alvirne lost 1-0, but not due to any of his calls. You’d probably never see this today.
“I got paid three times,” Makarawicz said with a chuckle. “AD, bus driver and umpire.”
Some 40-plus years later, Bill Mak is still making the call. Today, with so many more schools and kids competing, the call is mainly with his phone, and often that’s the most important call of all.
“It’s tedious, and it’s a challenge,” Makarawicz said. “I can’t get down on myself. If I do, all hell would break loose.”
The call he answered a few months ago, though, was special. The NHIAA Hall Call of Fame, and so very well deserved.
Hope they had a good candy bar for him.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph_TomK.