In any given year, Greenwood resident Terry Magnuson might officiate 80 or more basketball games.

Most are high school, some are college, and quite a few are youth level. Men’s and women’s, boys and girls, NCAA Divisions I, II and III, all the way down to grade school.

He doesn’t have a preference.

Magnuson regards officiating as more of a service than a vocation. And that’s how he’s approached it for nearly 40 years.

“It’s a joy. I always enjoy working for the kids, or I guess young adults,” Magnuson said. “I do it because it’s a great opportunity to give back to the high schools or the communities.”

Now, the basketball community is giving something to Magnuson.

On Saturday, he’ll receive the 2016 Interscholastic Athletic Official Award for Excellence in the Sport of Boys Basketball, presented by the IHSAA and the National Federation of Interscholastic Officials Association.

Magnuson will receive the award during halftime of Saturday’s Class 4A boys state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

A licensed official for 39 years, Magnuson also is a past winner of the IHSAA Girls Basketball Official of the Year Award (1997), the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Circle Center Award (2011) and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Ray Gardner Award (2014).

An active member of the Indiana Officials Association, he has worked 33 sectionals, 23 regionals and four state finals. And that’s just his boys basketball resume.

He also has worked five girls state finals and has been doing men’s and women’s college games for 25 years.

In between, he squeezes in elementary school games when he can.

“I enjoy doing all of those,” said Magnuson, 60, whose full-time job is principal of Pleasant Crossing Elementary School in Whiteland. “I still enjoy doing some of the elementary youth league games because they’re just starting out.”

Magnuson’s affinity for officiating grade school games is a byproduct of his 38-year career in education, as a teacher, coach and administrator. He has worked for Carmel, Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant schools and views elementary officiating as a chance to help young players learn the game.

“It’s amazing the different (skill) levels as they progress,” Magnuson said. “By the time they get to be in high school and college, their skill level is so much keener than it ever was 25 or 30 years ago when I first started officiating.

“The game has changed so much. It’s still fun to do the younger ages.”

Magnuson’s approach is the same for the other levels, as well.

His objective is to call a clean game, enforce the rules and let outcomes be dictated by players. And if they, and/or coaches, happen to learn something about the game along the way, so much the better.

“With the officials, we just go out and do our jobs and do our very best, and when we leave, the coaches have the aftermath of making sure their kids play better the next time,” Magnuson said. “It’s just that educational piece.

“The coaches have the responsibility of serving their school and their community, and we, as officials, can be a part of that by just going out there and doing our very best, enforcing the rules and seeing that everything is done in the proper way.”

Coaches are seldom fans of officials. But Magnuson is the rare exception.

“He’s always been one of my favorites,” said Greenwood Community High School boys coach Bruce Hensley, who recently concluded his 27th season with the Woodmen.

“Terry’s been around a long time, as have I, and he’s always somebody that I looked forward to working one of my games,” Hensley said. “I always enjoy talking with him. I always thought he did a really good job. I always thought he was consistent.

“It’s just obvious to me he enjoys what he’s doing because he does enjoy being around kids and working with kids.”

Former Franklin Community High School girls coach Walt Raines, who retired at the end of the 2015-16 season after 28 seasons with the Grizzly Cubs, has a similar opinion of Magnuson.

“He’s a very humble, dedicated official. He’s one of the good ones,” Raines said. “He understands the game, and he’s one of those guys that you can count on he’s going to make the call he thinks is right.

“We always don’t agree, and that goes with the territory between coaches and officials. But the one thing about Terry is, you always know that he’s going to be respectful to you, and he’s going to go out there and give it 100 percent.”

Although he’s coming up on his 40th season, Magnuson — a father of four adult children — has no plans to retire. He still has health, still has passion and, perhaps most importantly of all, still has the support of Debbie Magnuson, his wife of 34 years.

As long as he has all three, retirement will stay on the distant horizon.

“I’m not at the end point, but once I lose my enthusiasm for the game or think that I’m not able to do the right job, I will definitely give that up because there are too many individuals that go on too long as officials, and they can’t keep up,” Magnuson said. “It’s a hindrance to the game.

“But right now I feel like I’m on top of it. It’s good exercise. It’s a great conditioner.”

The Magnuson File

Name: Terry Magnuson

Occupation: Principal at Pleasant Crossing Elementary, high school, college and youth basketball official

Residence: Greenwood

Age: 60

Awards: 2016 Interscholastic Athletic Official Award for excellence in boys basketball, presented by the IHSAA and National Federation of Interscholastic Officials Association; 2014 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Roy S. Gardner Award as the top boys basketball official; 2011 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Center Circle Award; 1997 IHSAA Girls Basketball Official of the Year.

High school: LaVille (1974)

College: Butler (1978)

Personal: Is married to Debbie Magnuson; couple has four children, Greg (30), Beth (28), Brad (27) and Nathan (23).

Author photo
Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rmorwick@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.