TOP PHOTO: On Thursday morning at the WLAF studios, Bobby Heatherly shares the solemn story of the day he did not accept an offer from the Southeastern Conference to officiate basketball.
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The time had come for Bobby Heatherly. All his officiating basketball games’ life, from Little League to Junior and High School to college, Heatherly’s drive to be the best he could be centered around one goal; to officiate in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
In those days, you had to be recommended to be considered for a gig in the big time SEC. Heatherly called John Guthrie, the supervisor of officials in the SEC, to tell him that he was filling out his application to have a chance to join the league. “You don’t need that, Bobby. We’ve had a total of 12 other officials call us about you. We’re ready for you,” said Guthrie, who previously had served as the head basketball coach at Georgia in the 1970s.
When Heatherly learned that the preseason camp for officials, held in August, had gone from one week to two weeks, it hit with a thud. Reality set in, because there was no way he could take leave for that long from his duties at the La Follette Country Club. No way in August.
Guthrie gave Bobby two hours to decide if he would take his dream job or turn it down. He turned it down. Since he was on the doorstep of his goal, and he could not take that last step, he hung up his whistle for good. “If I had no goal, no dream, there was no need to continue calling ball games,” said Heatherly.
He shared that story with the group that attended a morning of celebrating Heatherly on Thursday at WLAF. State Representative Dennis Powers presented Heatherly with a proclamation from the State of Tennessee. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/11/2022-8AM)