2006 Doreen Reinwand  3 Lifetime Service   Lodi (Large).jpgMy name is Doreen Reinwand and I was the first female wrestling official in the Olympic styles of freestyle and Greco-roman in the state of Wisconsin. My involvement in wrestling began during my high school years. After being involved in our high school program helping the coach, I met and married my husband, Jack Reinwand. Upon graduation in 1973, my involvement in wrestling took an interesting turn when future University of Wisconsin – Madison NCAA Champion Jack Reinwand became my husband. I learned about the sport of wrestling through Jack and the UW-Madison and club wrestling programs. By the time I had been married only a few years, I had attended two NCAA Division I championships, numerous major college tournaments, several freestyle national tournaments, world and world cup championships and extremely involved in helping Jack develop the Lodi High School wrestling program. I had the opportunity to be in some of the top wrestling rooms in the nation as Jack’s training schedule was geared toward winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 1980. On occasion, I even had to fulfill the role of drilling partner for Jack as he relentlessly trained. Unfortunately, that dream did not come to fruition as the United States announced their intention to boycott the 1980 games and Jack refocused his efforts to taking Lodi wrestling to the state championships. One thing that I continually observed in my early involvement in the sport was the need for quality officials.

Since I had access to relationships with some of the top freestyle/Greco-roman officials in the country, I took the plunge and became a USA Wresling official #2805.I filled out my application and sent it off to USA Wrestling, the governing body for freestyle and Greco-roman It became evident to me that this group of dedicated people would support and teach me. I seized this opportunity to provide support to the sport I had learned to passionately love. I received my rulebook and license in April of 1984 and studied it from end-to-end. I was blessed to have Jack explain situations to me that I could not understand. I purchased the requisite white shirt and white pants and thought I was ready for my first tournament.

It was my goal as an official to treat each match as if it was the Olympic finals. I felt that everyone deserved the best I could give. Days were long and the matches just kept coming. It was only a couple of weeks and UW Madison was hosting the Regional National Championships and headed to Madison to attend the pre-tournament meeting. I was greeted by some of the most awesome people from around the mid-west. They embraced me and were willing to teach me how to become a skilled official. This time I was not alone on the mat but paired with two other officials for each bout as required in the rule book. This is the perfect learning situation. Of the three officials, one whistles the match while on the mat, the arbritrator sits across from the score table and presents the points as they see them and the third is the Mat Chairman who provides the tie-breaking decision if the mat official and arbitrator do not agree. I learned much that day. and moved from the initial rating of M3 to M2 at my second tournament..

By the spring of 1985, I was again working the rounds of the local, regional and state wrestling tournaments. We always worked alone on the mat in those days. The best opportunity to learn and advance came by participating in tournaments such as the Central Junior Regional Nationals and the Northern Plains Regional Nationals as experienced officials provided in-depth clinics and evaluations through the tournament. I worked hard to perfect my skills and was promoted to the rank of M1C in June after the Northern Plains Regional National Championships.

In 1986, I again began the circuit of local, regional and state tournament series. I also received an invitation to the Junior National Freestyle and Greco-Roman championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I nervously boarded the bus with the Greco-Roman team and headed to Iowa for the week long tournament. The Wisconsin Wrestling Federation took very good care of me and steered me in the right direction and I hooked up with the large officials group. By this time, I had made friends within the wrestling officials community from around the nation. Out of the 60 plus officials involved in the tournament, I seem to remember only three of us being woman. The hours were long and the matches intense. Throughout the tournament evaluations were done on young officials and when tournament was down to the place and championship matches, the evaluators selected officials that would work the finals and I received a finals match. I was honored but extremely frightened. Was I ready? This was only my third year of officiating. Many who had worked the tournament had been trying to reach this level for many years. For my efforts that year, I was awarded a promotion in my rank and received the MI status from the officials organization. I felt very honored.

The opportunity to work at this level of competition with the top officials provided me with more knowledge that I felt was important for the state of Wisconsin to have so that our athletes could prepare to be national champions. Wisconsin possessed many skilled young athletes and the freestyle and Greco-roman tournament series was flourishing. The need for mat officials was great in Wisconsin to meet the increased numbers at tournaments.

Each year I participated in as many tournaments as I could fit in. It was hard work. I would leave Lodi with a car load of young men for weigh-ins or sometimes weigh them in Lodi to save time on long trips and then spend the whole tournament on the mat. There was no pay and no expenses were paid to officials early in my career. You just volunteered your time because you loved the sport. Our young sons enjoyed the tournaments and many times were bout sheet runners. It was a long weekend in 1987 when I traveled to Rockford, Illinois to officiate the Central Juniors. Since I did not have lodging, I drove back into Wisconsin after the session was over on Thursday night and slept in the back of my car at a wayside. I woke early headed back to Rockford and cleaned up at a MacDonalds and then worked all day on the mat.

As I gained experience and knowledge, it became time for me to help others. I was often assigned head official or head clinician duties at tournaments around the Midwest. It was an opportunity to help others, as I had been helped. As the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation grew there was a time when they needed a Head Official for the state. I stepped into that role for several years and was a part of the governing board. The season also expanded and there were now two national tournaments to attend in the summer with the addition of separate cadet national championships. The dedication of the officials amazed me. They were willing to take two weeks of their vacation time, travel to the designated site and work relentless for a week because they revered the sport of wrestling. I was surrounded by the best athletes and officials. Eventually many of the athletes I officiated became national champions and eventual Olympic champions (Dennis Hall, Garrett Lowney and Brandon Slay and many more). I was almost always selected to work a finals match. I was always willing to listen to coaches and athletes about their interpretation of a questionable call…..after the match!

It wasn’t easy being one of only a few woman officials. Quite frequently I was told I didn’t understand the sport, or heard comments that I should “get back into the kitchen” or how can you officiate when you’ve never wrestled. I felt that I had enough experience with the sport. I had been to more major tournaments, attended wrestling camps and had one of the best that nation had to offer (my husband Jack) right at my beck and call to help me understand the sport. I could call Russ Hellickson and Dan Gable my friends.

I knew that if I wanted to take my officiating to the next level, I had to take the opportunity to official an “open” level tournament, which translates to senior level athletes. I also wanted to reach the highest ranking an official could attain of MIE. The “E” equaled “exceptional”. In 1991, I purchased a plane ticket to Las Vegas and headed to the Open. It was quite an experience. I would say that work this level is actually easier than a local tournament with youth. The more skilled the wrestler the easier it was to anticipate the action.

I was very fortunate in my career to be selected to work some great tournaments. I was assigned the Olympic Sports Festival for a week in St. Louis. We were housed in awesome accommodations in their “Olympic village”. The one big advantage to being assigned to work tournaments by the national office is that your expenses were paid. Wisconsin Wrestling Federation was also working hard early in my career to provide expenses for the officials. I was selected to work the woman’s world team trials and many events such as this. This commitment came with a price too. I was fortunate that my husband was usually their coaching and that my sons choose to participate in wrestling but I did have to travel. I was even being urged to obtain my international FILA license because the USA organization felt I had the skill to go to the next level. It was very tempting. But when you get that call at a national tournament from your husband because your son broke his ankle while you were gone and you weren’t there to help or when my husband tore his hamstring you couldn’t get home for two days, I missed visiting my mother in the hospital when she had open heart surgery. You hadn’t been to many family functions because you were always at a tournament.

My sons were in high school and we planned a trip to Florida so I could again work a senior level tournament in an attempt to earn my “E”. As always, its exciting to work that level of competition. The tournament went fine for me but not my two sons. One broke his collar bone and the other got a serious infection. But when the rankings came out at the end of the season, my name was on that list. I had been awarded the highest ranking possible for a United States official. I was elated. My license book had been signed by Rick Tucci with the “E” added to MI.

It was an awesome, short but intense career. The time just fly by and I made many friends. All of a sudden, my older son was graduating from high school. He was pursuing a career as Navy SEAL and soon my younger son would graduate. My mother’s health was not improving and it seemed I had a decision to make. I either intensified my career in officiating and gained my FILA license and made my bid to work world and Olympic events or I moved on. It was an extremely difficult decision to make, but my family always came first. I attended my final junior national tournament in 1998 and told them of my decision to make this my final tournament. I can clearly recall word spreading throughout the tournament to the coaches and officials I had seen for many years. I was shocked when many told me that they were very sorry that I would be stepping down. Although we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on the calls, they knew that when their athletes stepped on the mat with me they would receive fair and consistent calls. Again, I was extremely humbled by their words. I was selected to work one last finals match of my career. It went smoothly and it still brings tears to my eyes when the announcer stated that this would be my last match. As I was leaving the raised podium one last time, a bouquet of red roses was handed to me by the head official and my eyes clouded with tears to be leaving this all behind and then all the officials, coaches and fans stood up in a standing ovation. I was humbled beyond what I could describe to you to have had this opportunity in life.

Yours in wrestling,
Doreen Reinwand
USA Wrestling #2805