Dickinson referee blows whistle on 35-year career

Longtime referee in North Dakota retires after 35 years of making a difference on and off the court.

Referee Troy Huber stands at the ready during a previous prep basketball game, one of many he officiated during his 35-year career. Huber recently announced his retirement, and will leave a void in the North Dakota officiating community.
Special to The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON – The passage of time can seem empty, unless a person does their best to fill it with a legacy of good things.

And while it might seem referees get a lot of grief from fans, players and coaches, North Dakota refs have it pretty good because of the state’s almost endemic cordiality (most of the time). So it’s easy to see why Troy Huber, a longtime Dickinson resident who has walked the courts of schools and arenas across the Midwest, spent 35 years officiating games here.

But, it has come time for Huber to blow the whistle on his career, and he does so knowing he will miss being on the courts and helping keep the flow of the game moving in the right direction.

“I’ve always tried to give back to this community and part of that was working basketball and helping the kids so that they can play the game without having interruptions, cancellations or things like that,” he said.

He got his start when he was a sophomore in college at Dickinson State University, where — like many young people going to school — Huber needed extra money. He had been a basketball player in high school as well, so the transition was an even one, and he began with city-league games and soon moved up the ladder to junior high and junior varsity games before graduating – so-to-speak – to high school, “and it kind of grew from there.”


Dickinson resident and longtime referee Troy Huber.
Special to The Dickinson Press

The native Montanan – who also lived in Killdeer for awhile in the mid-1970s when he was younger – fit-in-like-a-mitten here in North Dakota, and subsequent to marrying his wife, Jody — and following their graduation from college — they decided to make Dickinson their home for good since 1985.

“It’s one of those things where we moved here to go to college, and my wife and I dated through high school and then got married in Dickinson, and had kids here,” Huber said. “It’s a place where I’ve never wanted to leave, and my folks still live here.”

They had three grown daughters – two of whom live close by in Bismarck and the other a permanent Dickensonian – and one of the great delights of his life was that Huber was able to bring his family along on many occasions for games throughout the area so they could experience travel and seeing the Midwest along with him.

“As my kids grew up, they got to go with me on some basketball trips to South Dakota and things like that when they were a little bit younger,” he said, “and, as they grew up, they would tag along here and there whenever we had a chance at a state-title football game or something … and this last weekend my daughter and son-in-law were in Fargo for the last state tournament that I was doing. And that’s pretty special.”

Huber is well-regarded in the community, athletic and otherwise, and Dickinson High School head basketball coach Dan Glasser considers him, “just a great ref, and an even-better person.”

“He cares so much about the kids, and the amount of time that he puts in his reffing job really pays off and shows just how good of a ref he is,” Glasser said. “He loves it and it shows; he’s always got a smile on his face and he’s always happy to get into the gym.

“And the thing about it is I was able to ref with him for five of those 35 years, and the amount of information that he taught me, he was just a mentor to me – getting into reffing and him showing me the ropes – and just how open and willing he was to help me really meant a lot to me.”

Those kinds of accolades from his peers “mean everything,” Huber said, in light of the time he has spent on the courts here and in the surrounding areas. “It’s one of those things where you set out to do this and when you start out you don’t know if you plan on doing it for 35-plus years, or set on doing it for five years. But as I’ve done it, I think the towns in our area – between Dickinson and all the small towns we’ve covered throughout the years in the Southwest – have always respected and been supportive of the officials in our area,” he said.


There’s no-telling just how many games Huber has officiated in his career, but one thing he is proud of is helping encourage growth in the number of officials, somewhat, throughout the state. It’s that devotion to seeing his career carried on by the younger officials, who he has met along the way, that’s increased Huber’s encouragement towards the same sort of longevity he has enjoyed, because it gives young people the opportunities for athletic pursuits of their own.

“The State of North Dakota is up in officials across-the-board, but we’re by no means out of the woods yet,” Huber added. “We need officials in all sports, and that’s basketball, football, baseball, hockey, soccer and whatever it might be. And I want to encourage people, that: If you don’t have a desire to work varsity basketball, that is fine, but the small towns need people who want to work sub-varsity games, C-squad games, and the activity association has a program for that.

“If you’re a young college kid, a senior or junior in high school and that’s something you want to do, get in contact with me or call the activities association and they’ll put you in contact with anybody in the state.”

For information on how to become a referee in the state of North Dakota, please visit or call the North Dakota High School Activities Association at 701-845-3953. You also can call Huber at 701-260-2948 if you require any guidance he can provide based on his experience.

Gaylon is a sportswriter from Jensen Beach, Fla., but has lived all over the world. Growing up with an athletic background gave him a love of sports that led to a journalism career in such places as Enid, Okla., Alamogordo, N.M., Pascagoula, Miss. and Viera, Fla. since 1998. His main passion is small-town community sports, particularly baseball and soccer.
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