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Coach's life is a matter of balance

Gary Hall coaches football and wrestling, officiates high school basketball, teaches science and helps raise his children.

It's quite a juggling act.

So it should come as no surprise that one of Hall's hobbies is juggling.

"I had a professor in college who was also a magician, and he taught us a lot of his tricks," Hall said. "He said the key to juggling was to think of it like a clock and to rotate your hands at 1 and 11 o'clock."

But the more impressive trick is how Hall manages to juggle his time, particularly now that he serves as Hudson High's wrestling coach and officiates high school basketball in Pasco and Hillsborough counties. How does he do it?

"That's what my wife keeps asking me," said Hall, who also is Hudson's head football coach. "But she's real supportive."

Janet Hall, who is a teacher at Springstead High, has to be. On the nights Hall, 40, is not coaching wrestling, he usually is officiating boys basketball.

"It keeps me busy but I enjoy it," said Hall, a 15-year referee veteran who became interested in officiating after a college class on the subject.

"And having been a referee, I can appreciate and respect what referees go through when I'm coaching football and wrestling."

Hall has been wrestling coach at Hudson the past 10 years and took the head football position last season. He said through his experience as a referee he realizes it is useless to argue with officials. And that makes him a better coach.

"It makes me a better coach because I tend to focus more on the coaching aspect of the game," Hall said. "Having been on both sides, I know it's more important to concentrate on what the kids should be doing instead of worrying about the referees.

"Besides, what sort of role model would I be for the kids if I was constantly yelling at the referee? We teach our kids to respect the referees, and we as coaches do the same. Besides, if a boy ends up on his back in a wrestling match it's not the ref's fault. It's his."

Hall said he has worked basketball games with many of the officials who referee his football games. He will joke with them on the sideline but he says his friends show him no favors.

"These officials have a lot of integrity," said Hall, who is a 10-year member of the West Coast Officials Association and is paid $41 per game. "And that's the way it should be. The officials are completely impartial and there is no bias."

Hall said that is also true when he officiates boys basketball. Still, he said coaches and teams who treat officials with respect are more likely to benefit from a close call than those who ride the referee.

"There are lot of kids who will run and chase a ball out of bounds for you and then say, "Here you go, sir,'

" Hall said. "Then there are coaches and teams who will stay on your back. So when it comes down to a call that could go either way, in the back of your mind, you may remember the team that treats you with respect."

Hall said some coaches and officials have personality clashes.

"A coach will see a certain referee walk into a gym and say, "I'm dead tonight,'

" Hall said. "And sometimes a lot of it has to do with the referee and his attitude. Some officials like to take charge, show they are boss and take control of the game. For them, it's a real ego trip.

"But the guys who do a good job are the ones you don't even know are there but just blend into the game. That's what I try to do. I can't remember the last time I called a technical on a coach."

Hall said he is on a first-name basis with area boys basketball coaches, including Ridgewood's Gary Anders.

Said Anders: "The thing I like about Gary is that his demeanor on the court is the same as his personality _ easygoing, level-headed, and he takes things with a grain of salt.

"Attitude and temperament are his strong suits. He's a very good official who uses very good judgment. And the real advantage for Gary is that because he is a teacher and he coaches, he is around kids and that gives him an extra insight and extra feel for the situation with kids.

"And you have to admire a guy like that who stays as busy as he does."

Hall said he enjoys working with youths. Even when he is not coaching, he will stay at school on his own time and open the weight room. Hall also serves as Hudson's weight coach.

"I'll go in and work out with the kids or go out and run around the school with them," Hall said. "A lot of teachers get here in the morning and then leave at 2:30. But I'm always here past 5. And I think the kids respect me because I'm there for them."

While Hall spends much time in school-related activities, he said he makes time for his three children, aged 8, 13, 18. ("We have one every five years.") And he supports them in their athletic pursuits.

Next year, Hall plans to step down as Hudson's wrestling coach. He wanted to this year, but the school could not find a replacement and he could not say no.

So for now, Hall will continue his juggling act, in and out the athletic arena.

"I've done some juggling at school Gong Shows and the kids love it," Hall said. "All it takes is a little practice and a little time.

"I've got this juggling act down pretty good."

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