September 28th, 2011

Hyland's Heroes: Spotlight on Jim Gutterman

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Spotlight on Jim Gutterman
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Gutterman's officials help keep things in perspective for CSAA

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero? Send your recommendation to  


For all of the coaches, student-athletes and volunteers involved in the CSAA, there are dozens of officials assigned to each sport in the local Catholic leagues. Training and assigning officials to the hundreds of games played in the various sports offered by the CSAA is not an easy task.

Just ask Jim Gutterman, who has been involved with the CSAA for 30 years. He’s been the Assignment Secretary for the CSAA boy’s basketball officials for the past 25 years. He’s also filled that role for girls fast pitch softball since its inclusion as a sanctioned CSAA sport. Not only does he assign those officials, but Gutterman still referees them, too. In addition to those games, he works high school football games and college football games for the Mid-South Conference.

Getting involved in officiating was an interesting process. As the oldest of eight children, Gutterman got exposed to “calling fouls” early in life. His route to becoming an official, though, was quite interesting.

He explained, “I was coaching at Westport middle school and a friend of mine, Larry Strange, was an official. I was one of these coaches that ranted and raved about everything. After one of the games that he (Strange) refereed at Westport he challenged me, ‘If you think you can do any better, why don’t you come out and do it?’”

Laughing at the memory, Gutterman understood quickly that Strange had a good point. So he jumped into the ranks of those who were the targets of his rants and raves. While it may not be a unique story, becoming an official certainly opened his to the impact he could have on developing kids.

“I joined the local high school association, KFOA (KY Football Officials Association), and Karl Schmitt was the assignment secretary for the KFOA as well as the head of the CSAA,” Gutterman recalled. “That’s how I got into officiating high school and the CSAA games. After a year of doing the CSAA games, Karl got me into officiating basketball. About five or six years later, Karl gave up assigning the basketball officials and I was one of the guys who took over that role.”

Managing officials is a complex task. Considering that this is a basketball crazed city, the competition can be a little more than intense. Gutterman is responsible for 72 officials that cover the boy’s games. He said there are another 60 or so officials for the girl’s games.

“There is so much time involved with the job,” he said. “But it is more than a job. You become part of the CSAA. We work in different areas and for many years the football officials worked the track meets for Karl and for Jim Frame. We always did that type of thing on a volunteer basis.”

He raised his children in St. Barnabas, with his two girls attending Sacred Heart (to swim) and Mercy (to play volleyball). And even though he attended Trinity, his twin sons went to St. X where they both swam and played golf.

“The only thing I mentioned to my boys was that they had to go to the open house at Trinity,” he laughed. “But they were swimmers and golfers and they had their mind made up to go to St. X.”

His kids getting involved in swimming spurred Gutterman to get involved in the sport as, you guessed it, an official; adding yet another feather to his official’s cap. “I got into officiating swimming when my oldest daughter was swimming with Lakeside,” he said. “I served as a meet director and a starter for quite a while.”

With someone as experienced as Gutterman, officials are fortunate to learn from his years of experience in a myriad of sports. That type of wisdom gets filtered to the officials he trains and supervises to this day.

“Something that I hope that all of my officials try to do, especially at this level, is remember that it is a learning league for these kids,” he emphasized. “I hope my officials all try to help these kids along a little bit instead of being out there and just blowing a whistle calling fouls. I feel like we’ve a really good group of officials and we get young, new officials all the time.”

He tries to bring out the best in his officials so that they can help develop the character of the next generation of local high school athletes. “We try to stress that we’re here for the kids and as long as you can help them along without slowing down the game or interfering with the game, then do it,” he said. “We do give the coaches more leeway to instruct during a game as long as they’re not on the court or getting on the officials.”

While he has had the opportunity to officiate eventual high school, college and even some pro athletes, Gutterman looks at his position more as an adjunct coach. He believes that officials, too, can help mold these young student athletes, rather than just tweet a whistle.

“I hope that we all have a very positive effect on the young athletes, because that’s what we’re out there for,” he explained. “We’re out there for them. There have been so many who have gone on to high school and college and the professional ranks in different sports that we all hope we had a very positive effect on them. In the long run, when they look back at their development in the CSAA, I think they’ll say it was a positive experience for them.”

As Will Woolford mentioned in his address at the Catholic Education Foundation luncheon, he and so many of his friends look back fondly to their elementary competitions. Gutterman and all of the officials can be proud to share in those memories.


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