MOSINEE (WAOW) - It's a huge honor for high school athletes and coaches to advance to a state tournament. The same goes for the men and women in stripes.
After 16 years of officiating, Jon Payne of Mosinee will ref his first state game this week.
He's also the senior pastor at Good News Baptist Church in Mosinee.
Each year.. thousands of referees across Wisconsin are whittled down to just about 40 for each week of the WIAA state tournaments.
As a former athlete and coach himself, Payne says the games are all about the players on the court.
Jon Payne/WIAA Referee: "Remember that it's not about us who are officiating it, it's not about the fans in the stands or the coaches, it's about the kids. And to me, the opportunity to do my very best and encourage the student-athletes is why I put on the stripes."
As a Baptist minister, Payne brings a spiritual aspect to the court by saying a prayer before each game.
Payne: "Lord, give me wisdom and also give me good judgment because in terms of making the calls and making them accurately, being fair, that's very important, humility and self control because the word fan is short for fanatic."
Payne's crew also includes Daryl Pries, a Cadott police officer, and Tom Kislow, the athletic director at Antigo. They'll ref a division 2 semifinal on Friday afternoon at the Kohl Center.