‘You’ll never have better seats’: Officers by day, HS football officials by night

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 5:18 AM PST
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HILLSBORO Ore. (KPTV) - To serve and protect by day and to get the calls right by night – local police and sheriff departments and high school officiating associations are always looking for a few new women and men.

Two civil servants just earned the right to officiate their first 6A OSAA state championship games on Friday night in Hillsboro.

The final between West Linn and Sheldon was the first time working the year end title game for long-tenured Portland Football Officials Association members Jeana Fisher and Steve Anderson.

SEE ALSO: Tillamook and Estacada face off for 4-A high school football title

Fisher, a sheriff’s deputy with Clackamas County, said she does it for the love of the game.

“Football gets in your blood, it’s in your bones,” she said.

Anderson, a Beaverton police officer, said every official wants to get the calls right.

“I don’t think any official has ever worked a perfect game, and that is what we are all striving to do and that’s what we are hoping for,” Anderson said. “I’ve heard people, like some of the chain crew - how I remain so composed when coaches or fans are yelling, but the job I do in real life is way more serious. Sometimes we are dealing life or death, and this is a game, this is fun. Try not to let anyone get the best of me.”

Every game day is different, just as every day on the job for Anderson and Fisher brings its own challengers.

“Not often do we see people at their best moment, but being a resource for somebody, that helps provide comfort and safety,” Anderson said.

SEE ALSO: Lake Oswego HS sophomore wins 6A cross country title

For Fisher, being a woman often takes players off guard, she said. After 14 years with PFOA, Fisher just made Oregon history as the first woman to officiate the final in the state’s highest classification.

“It’s not until I talk to them that I might get a double-take, ‘that’s a girl!’” Fisher said. “Sometimes you have to prove yourself a little more because girls don’t generally play football and girls don’t generally know football and so that can be a little bit of a stumbling block at times, but as long as you know what you are doing and you are where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be making the calls you are supposed to make, gender doesn’t matter. It goes out the window.”

Being the first woman to officiate this game was huge, Fisher said.

“There are more coming up in the wings, there are more in college,” Fisher said. “There are more in everywhere so that should show you that nothing should stop you if you are a girl and if you want to do something so the fact that I am the first female official to work a 6A Championship game, I’ll never forget it.”

Fisher grew up in Hawaii, and when she took an aptitude test in the eighth grade, it suggested park ranger or police officer.

“At the time growing up on an island, I had no idea what a park ranger was or did or anything and I was like, ‘cop sounds cool,’” she said. “I love the thought process of taking care of those who might be a little down on their luck and can’t quite take care of themselves.”

SEE ALSO: Triple header championship on the high school football field under Friday Night Lights

Anderson has served and protected his hometown for 20 years after graduating from both Sunset High and Linfield College, but this was his first title tilt as well.

“My biggest regret officiating is not starting sooner,” Anderson said. “I wish I had started right out of college.”

Fisher encourages anyone to come and get involved.

“If there is any desire in you at all to come out, either to be a police officer or to be an official, don’t let anything stop you,” she said. “Come out. Being an official is fun. You’ll never have better seats that you don’t have to pay for and actually get paid for having them and being right here on the field with the kids.”

After wining a gold medal as a lineman playing with Team USA in 2010, Fisher said she loves being out with the players.

“Those guys in the middle, in the trenches, they are my people and I love being in there,” she said.

Click here to get involved with the Portland Football Officials Association