Burt Hurshe worked football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball games during his 50-year career as a high school official.
Burt Hurshe worked football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball games during his 50-year career as a high school official. (Photo: Donna Hurshe)

Burt Hurshe officiated high school football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball.

Burt Hurshe ended his decades-long career as a high school sports official this spring. It wasn’t the swan song he wanted.

The cancellation of high school spring sports across the state because of the COVID-19 pandemic meant Hurshe couldn’t be an umpire at a few dozen baseball and softball games.
And he didn’t get to be honored for 50 years of officiating by the Michigan High School Athletic Association at an annual banquet May 2 in East Lansing.

The Waterford resident previously was honored by the MHSAA for 20, 30, 40 and 45 years as an official, but the latest award is extra special.

Hurshe, 74, was going to ask his wife of 40 years, Donna, to accept his 50-year award at the banquet to thank her for all the sacrifices she made through the years to allow him to pursue his passion for officiating.

When he was honored by the MHSAA for 45 years as a high school official, Hurshe received a gold-plated whistle in a Lucite case. He’s awaiting his 50-year memento.

“I’m heartbroken and sad about this last season,” he said. “I didn’t officiate high school sports for the money. It was about the commitment made by the athletes and the respect I had for the coaches.”

Hurshe officiated high school football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball.

He did state championship games in girls basketball and softball and a state semifinal game in boys basketball. Four Detroit Public School League city championship games in football and two each in boys basketball and girls basketball also are on his resume.

The biggest high school game he officiated, in his eyes, was a 1998 PSL semifinal boys basketball game between Detroit Pershing (ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today) and Detroit Cooley (ranked No. 2 in the state) in front of 11,000 fans at Joe Louis Arena.
Every game was important to him, not just the big ones.

“You have to go out each time with the mindset that this is the last game you’re going to officiate,” he said.

Hurshe said he changed his approach to officiating about 25 years ago, and it made a big difference.

“I stopped taking things personally,” he said. “People do things and say things in the heat of the moment. You need to focus on the game, not what people are saying.”

Hurshe received a Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Pillars of Excellence award in 2012.
Earlier, he was inducted into the Detroit PSL Hall of Honor, Detroit Catholic League Hall of Fame and Cooperstown Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was a teacher for 31 years at Southfield Public Schools and five years at Waterford Public Schools, and he’s still a substitute teacher in Waterford.

He was the Southfield High School girls basketball coach for two seasons (1979-81).

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