The ITCCOA was formed in 1996 by Geza Ehrentreu. It has continued to grow and develop. Our goal is to help officials network, learn more about the sport, and to collaborate with others across the state.
The following was written by Mr. Ehrentreu about why he specifically started the group.
When I started the ITCCOA it was not originally going to be a statewide association, it was actually going to be a central Illinois group, but circumstances lead it to be what it is today. There had been so many conversations at the boy’s state track meet about the idea of officials having the same type of forum that the coaches enjoyed, that I finally took it upon myself to do something about making it a reality. I did not discuss my idea to implement this into reality with anyone because I knew that previous to my efforts, the coaches association had met to try to do something along the lines of getting officials into their organization, but they could not make it happen. I mentioned something along the lines of my idea and I was told it was being addressed, but since it was not going anywhere I made the decision to find out if it could be done. In the summer of 1997, I began the task of surveying officials to see if they wanted an officials organization, so I created a questionnaire and sent it to officials within the counties of central Illinois and a few around the state to gauge their interest. I was overwhelmed with the response that they not only wanted it, but in talking to other officials who had not received the form that they wanted to be part of it, so I made the decision to send it to all officials within the sport.
Over 90% thought it was a great idea, close to that said they would like the benefit of the group, a little over half said they would join, but only a few wanted to be involved in actually serving as leaders within the group. I had a conversation with Don Robinson at the IHSA to follow up on how to set things up and within a matter of two weeks the ITCCOA was a recognized association by the IHSA. I had written a constitution, got individuals to serve on the board and we began to meet and to plan the course of the group with what you guys took to the next level when you updated and reorganized the initial paperwork that I created.
When I approached some people about wanting to be involved with our group, it was suggested that we join the ITCCCA and become a part of their group, but I refused to listen to that discussion as I felt we should be a standalone group that would work with the coaches, but not be controlled by them. This did not make me very popular with some people, but if we were going to make it as a group, we needed to be able to control our own destiny. We were able to have input into the development of the official’s education programs that is taught through the clinics. The current clinicians are all members of our group and today we can see the benefit of what we started. We became part of the decision making process by being included in meetings with advisory boards and by joining with other associations in supporting the officials conference in Peoria each summer.
I became the first president of the group not because I founded it, but more so because I had the vision of what needed to be done and then I set out to do it. It hardly seems that 15 years have come and gone and the face of track officiating has certainly changed in that time, but it has done so in a very positive way as officials now have a forum and a support group to help them be better officials and to do things in a fair and consistent manner, all foundations for this group when we first began the journey.