Volleyball officiating is a family affair

Mom & two sons officiate tourneyVolleyball officiating is a family affair for the Smith clan of Chewelah.Denise Smith, a very familiar face around Chewelah and one of that community’s most active and involved residents, has been officiating high school volleyball in northeast Washington for 27 years. At last Saturday’s District 7 2A Tournament at Colville, Smith was joined by two of her sons—Stryker and Blaze. The Smith trio worked the tournament and was on the floor for the championship match-up between Colville and East Valley. Denise Smith coached at Chewelah for six years, then decided to get into volleyball officiating. She still coaches tennis in the Chewelah School District.“I love it,” Smith said. “I love getting to see all the players, coaches and fans…and I have a front row seat to the matches. The only downfall is not being able to cheer once in awhile.”Smith, who has also officiated her share of state tournaments, concedes that it was a lot of fun to officiate with her sons. It’s pretty rare to see a trio of family members officiating together. Mom enjoyed and appreciated the moment. “It’s pretty neat to have your sons working with you like that,” she said.Stryker is a senior Business and Finance major at Gonzaga University. He’s in his sixth year of officiating volleyball and last year, at the tender age of 21, was selected to officiate at the state tournament at the SunDome in Yakima. Blaze, a junior at Washington State University, is majoring in Fish and Wildlife. He is in his fifth year of volleyball officiating and trains officials and officiates in the Whitman County area.Smith’s oldest son, Kiel, who resides in San Diego, officiated volleyball for six years while he went to high school and attended college at GU. He now plays a lot of beach volleyball and recently was part of a two-man beach volleyball team that won a tournament in Mexico. And yes, the Smith volleyball officiating pipeline continues. Smith’s daughter, Tenika, is also getting into officiating. Not everyone in the Smith family officiates, however. Denise’s husband, Chris, has also been active in sports over the years, but he doesn’t officiate volleyball. “He does umpire Little League though,” Denise says with a laugh.