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Hall of Fame official never sought the spotlight

Bill Hogan, who has been a volunteer swimming official for more than 30 years and has worked at meets all over of the world, admits there are few times when he is lost for words.

However, Hogan’s induction into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame has him stymied.

“When you talk about a hall of fame, that’s not me,” Hogan said. “That’s for your hockey players, ball players and some others. My name doesn’t belong with those other guys.”

The facts say otherwise.

His wife Janet competed at two editions of the Canada Games as a synchronized swimmer and their four children all swam competitively, including two at the university level.

All of this time at the pool led him to volunteering and helping in every way possible. The St. John’s, N.L., native studied diligently and quickly began officiating. Over the next 30 years, he served as a highly-respected referee at local, provincial, national and international levels, including the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“I just wanted to be fair, work hard and be the best official I could be,” said Hogan, who will not reveal his age, but says he’s in his 70s.

“Before you know it, I was going different places in the world and I loved every second of it,” he added. “I enjoyed doing it and I enjoyed meeting a lot of great people. People are friendly everywhere and I loved meeting and working with them. I’ve had a lot of fun.

“I could not have done it without the support of my wife and family. They’ve supported me and encouraged me all of the way. You can go all over the world, but there’s no place like home.”

Swimming Canada’s Senior Manager of Domestic Operations Suzanne Paulins, herself a national official, said Hogan has inspired several generations of swimming officials.

“He is a wealth of knowledge and a trusted advisor and mentor to officials across the country and around the world,” Paulins said.

“I can talk about a specific time in 2014 at the Pan Am Sports Festival in Mexico City, where the local organizing committee left many jobs incomplete,” she continued. “He was incredibly calm and used the available resources, so few would even know there were many gaps or issues.”

Hogan, a retired English and French teacher and high school principal in St. John’s, is in constant demand to conduct officiating clinics all over the world.

“Instructing these up-and-coming young referees in very rewarding,” said Hogan, who served as president of Aquatics Canada from 2007-11 and was vice-president of Swimming Canada before that.

“They are all keen and intense,” he said, “They want to learn as much as they can. All over the world, people love Canadians so I have always been treated very well when I go overseas. It’s always been enjoyable and I’ve always learned as much as I have taught over the years.”

Veteran official Joan Butler, also of Newfoundland and Labrador, said Hogan has always been “the voice of reason around the (board) table and on a pool deck” and she called him an ideal mentor.

“We would meet over coffee and discuss rules, competitions, nationals meets that would be of interest to me,” she noted. “He entertained with anecdotes of international competitions and I left these meetings feeling inspired. I truly believe that Bill has played an important role in my continuing work with the swimming community.”

Hogan was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame on April 27 in St. John’s.

“When you start helping out at the pool, an honour like this was never on the radar for me,” Hogan said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but I don’t think this is about me. It’s nice for our sport to be recognized. Other sports get all of the headlines, but it’s nice to see swimming get noticed, too.”