Bill Hogan is one sportsman who seldom has to wait long for the inevitable phone call or-e-mail requesting his services in an officials or administrative capacity.
Hogan, from St. John’s, is the Aquatic Federation of Canada president, head of an umbrella organization which includes swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming across the country.
He was also on the board of Swimming Canada for 13 years, including a stint as vice-president. He’s since moved on with the International world body where he is the only Canadian on the 10-person technical committee for FINA.
His officials resume is impressive.
He’s officiated at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and Bejing in 2008, as well as several world championships around the globe.
He officiated in the Central American Games in Panama in April. He went with a group of Canadians to Sweden in July to put in a bid for the masters world championship to this country, and he’s just back from Singapore where he officiated at an inaugural 14-18 world age-group meet.
His itinerary just for the next three months is head spinning.
“I’m on the go a lot these days,” he chuckled. “It’s a really busy because I’m also on a number of technical committees.”
Hogan, who has been involved in swimming in one capacity or another for 25 years, is back from Dallas where he was invited to attend the U.S. meeting as the Canadian aquatic president.
He was home for a week before packing his bags for Uruguay and a week of world swimming meetings, and from there it’s on to New Delhi, India and the Commonwealth Games for 10 days.
He also has World Cup trips planned for Berlin and Moscow. And just before Christmas, he heads to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for another world championship meet.
“Good thing I’m no longer teaching,” said the former teacher and vice-principal at Brother Rice high school and principal at Holy Trinity high.
Hogan, who is in his mid-60s, laughs and says since people found out he was retired, he gets even more requests for his services all over the world.
“I’m free to do it,” said Hogan, who sometimes gets only a 10-day notice for events outside of the country.
He’s pretty much booked up all over the place for the next four years.
“It’s something I really love doing. I love the technical side of it … the officiating. I don’t particulary thrive on the administrative side of things. I mean, I’m fine with it, but my first love is the actual games. I’d rather that than just pushing a pen.”
"We officiate the same as you would do in any sport, but it seems to me the higher you go, the easier it is to do (your job), but there’s more pressure. Still, you have to know the rules inside out." - Bill Hogan
Hogan, who said he was a “recreational swimmer,” played high school hockey with St. Bon’s and St. John’s senior league basketball with Holy Cross, “so I’ve always been involved in sports.”
But once his kids got into swimming at the Aquarena with the St. John’s Legends, Hogan eventually got into officiating at local meets and he’s been involved one way or another in the sport since then.
Officiating hasn’t come without its challenges. He said he had to disqualify a Chinese swimmer who had won a race in Singapore.
“The Chinese are highly ranked in the world and here I am disqualifying one of them with all the cameras on me,” Hogan said. “I checked it out in the video booth. Fortunately, my decision was supported by the video. I was dead on.”
When asked if he’s ever made a mistake in his officiating, Hogan laughed and said, “not that I’ve ever been challenged on. But I’m sure I must have somewhere along the line. If I did, it was probably missing something than calling something incorrect.”
Asked if meets are different depending on their significance, Hogan said it is actually easier to do a higher profile competition.
“We officiate the same as you would do in any sport, but it seems to me the higher you go, the easier it is to do (your job), but there’s more pressure. Still, you have to know the rules inside out.”
Hogan, isn’t just an administrator and an official — he’s also a fan.
So when multi-Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps of the U.S. asked Hogan if he wanted him to sign the official time sheet after he’d just set a world record at the Pan Pacific Games in Victoria, B.C. in 2006, Hogan was more than delighted to accept the offer.
“As a referee, I have to sign off on a world record to make sure it’s legit,” explained Hogan. “I signed it off and the next thing I know he’s asking me if I wanted him to sign the official sheet. So I said, ‘Well, yeah.’ And, of course, I brought that home with me.
“The irony is that when I was in Beijing in 2008, one of the photos of Phelps that was printed in Sports Illustrated had me in the middle of the two-page layout.
“I still have a copy of that magazine because I figure I won’t get in Sports Illustrated that often.”