Promise in Pintstripes
1/11/2013 (Updated 10:36:02 PM)(Source: Jeremy Donovan)
Jason Mirabito always knew he wanted to be a basketball official since umpiring kickball games in his backyard in Norwich and attending Syracuse Orange games as a kid with his parents.
"Watching those games for some reason, as a small kid, I would just watch the officials and that's really what got me intrigued into it," he said.
Mirabito began officiating as an 18 year old. Now, at 27, he's one of the youngest high school varsity and NCAA Division II and III officials living in the Southern Tier.
"He's a younger looking guy, but it doesn't take very long to realize he knows his stuff, he knows what he's doing, and that in itself commands respect," said Chris Sinicki, Seton Catholic Central Boys' Basketball Head Coach.
But after putting in a full eight hour work day at the family business, Mirabito Energy Products, then traveling to referee a game and going up to two weeks in a row without a day off, he can't always get every call right.
"The officials are human too. We make mistakes, and running off the floor knowing that you made a mistake is a terrible feeling," Mirabito said.
It's how you handle the occasional mistake that proves your worth. Especially when dealing with coaches.
"The more honest you are with coaches, the more they relate to you, and the better off you are with them," Mirabito said.
"Jason's very approachable and you can tell he's doing something he really loves to do," Sinicki said.
For Mirabito, it's that love of the game that will take him beyond the high school and smaller college gymnasiums.
"I would love to one day be a Division I official. It's really hard. You've got to have luck, you've got to be good, and you've got to know somebody," he said. "The pressure, the fans, the crowd, being a part of the game, that's what it's all about."
His passion and dedication don't go unnoticed. Sinicki says, for Mirabito, the sky's the limit.
"You can see how he loves to do his job, how he takes pride in doing his job [and that] will take him really as far as he wants to go," Sinicki said.
While he won't soon give up on the goal of one day having kids watch him officiate from the Carrier Dome bleachers, Mirabito says if it doesn't happen, he already has no regrets
"The way I look at it is if I've plateaued where I am now it's been a great journey, I've made great friends, it's an amazing experience and so, if I've plateaued, fine. If I keep moving up that's even better."
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