Last Monday, local football official 61-year-old Larry Vecchio from Hagaman was inducted into the American Football Association Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“Larry is a fantastic official deserving to be enshrined in the American Football Association Hall of Fame, where he takes his rightful place among the other semi-pro legends who have been inducted before,” said Fred Guzielek, president of the Capital District Football Officials Association.
Vecchio is going into his 31st year of officiating Pop Warner, high school and semi-pro games in the area. During his career, he has officiated multiple championships across all three levels, including several Section II Class AA championships, most recently the 2016 championship between Troy and Shaker, which Troy won
Vecchio said the most memorable game of his career was a semi-pro championship game he refereed in Vermont between Southern Vermont and Plattsburgh, in which Vermont won 7-6.
“It was probably 10 [degrees] below zero, the field was hard and icy and it ended up being a 7-6 game, and it was a fabulous game,” said Vecchio
Vecchio said he loved the ceremony.
“It was an honor,” Vecchio said. “I was both humbled and I was honored. I didn’t expect it. It was overwhelming. Everything was first class. It was fabulous. I enjoyed every single minute of it. I loved it.”
Vecchio said he loved hearing the stories of the presenters and the other 21 inductees, singling out the stories of two coaches that touched him the most. Also stating it made it more special to be the only official inducted from this year’s class.
Vecchio was accompanied by his wife and his semi-pro and high school crews along with their wives, bringing a total of 10 people to watch his induction.
Along with football, Vecchio loves working with his crew, saying the group are very good friends that spend time with each other all year round. The friendships grew after officiating with each other for years after he started refereeing games as a part-time job after a co-worker asked if he’d have interest in refereeing high school games.
“It’s very rewarding, very, very rewarding,” said Vecchio who also said he’s never had an incident with a coach or player having an overly negative reaction to one of his calls.
“When you’re an athlete and you walk off the field knowing you had a good game, same thing with officiating. You know you had a really good game, and that’s what we strive for.”
As the third member of his crew to be inducted, Vecchio said he and his crew plan to continue officiate games as long as they remain physically able to, also saying when one of them decides to retire, the whole crew will likely choose to retire.
Tyrell Feaster is an intern at The Daily Gazette. Feaster, a junior at the University at Albany, is majoring in journalism.