Lenny Neff- LL ref and LL Wall of Fame 2020
Written by: Dell Jackson on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020
Ed Note: We are very pleased to get our ‘5 question interview’ with Lenny Neff. Recently Lenny was inducted into the Lancaster-Lebanon Leagues Wall of Fame. Lenny always has a smile for everyone he meets and talks to. We were going to try to figure out how many players that he had in games, but we gave up- it’s a lot! We asked Lenny to do some digging into to his career- not only did he provide information, he found an old YouTube of the 1991 District 3 Championship game between Reading HS and Harrisburg.
On a personal note, when Dell was coaching in the LL, I liked having Lenny for a game as you knew he would always talk to you whether you agreed with him or not. One game at Donegal, Chris Heisey went down with a turned ankle. I asked Lenny what I was supposed to do without one of my top players. He said, “well Dell you can call a timeout and put him back in the game.”
Really good info from a really good guy- Enjoy!
1) We read about your HS letters at CV…can you tell us about your high school sports days?
I was very fortunate to have been coached by some excellent educators. Due to their guidance, I was able to complete my sports career and graduate in 1963 from Conestoga Valley. The first graduation class of Conestoga Valley was in 1959. I remember going to the YMCA, over the winter months, to shoot hoops when it was located on W. Orange St. in Lancaster in the mid-1950s. In high school, I played baseball for Coach Dunkle, basketball for Coach Bob Souders, and football & track for Coach George Griener.
2) When did you first start reffing hoops? What are some of your first memories?
I took and passed the test in the summer of 1977. In the winter, I started refereeing basketball for junior high and junior varsity. I also refereed mens’ adult rec games. I was a rookie at that time and heard it all from players and spectators. Bob Deihm urged me to take the test and served as my mentor; I will never forget him.
3) You reffed a lot of games. Are there certain games that stand out? And/or players coaches?
1991 – District 3 AAAA Final at Hershey Park’s old arena: Reading 29-0 and Harrisburg 24-1
Harrisburg vs Reading “1991 District Final” Donyell Marshall vs Dan Buie & Robert Tate (Lost Tapes) – YouTube
1997 – State Eastern Semi-Final at Conestoga Valley: Plymouth-Whitemarsh and Chambersburg (had to
exit the game, during the 3rd quarter, to have emergency surgery due to muscle compartment syndrome of the leg)
2005 – State Final at Hershey Park’s Giant Center: Kennedy Catholic and Bishop O’Reilly
2012 – Warwick and Cocalico (my last LLL game)
I was fortunate to referee the following number of playoff games that I have record of from 1991 through 2012:
LLL Playoff games = 31
District 3 Playoff games = 44
State Playoff games = 26
There are so many to mention, but I will highlight some individuals here.
Rip Hamilton – Coatesville
Donyell Marshall – Reading
Jack Hurd – Warwick
Sarunas Jasikevicius – Solanco
Ryan Purvis – Lancaster Catholic
4) What would your advice be to people wanting to get into reffing and stay in it for a long time?
It has to be about the love of the game. When the crowd questions a call, get the ball back in play and keep the game moving on! The friends (i.e. fellow officials, players, coaches, spectators) you make along the way are overwhelming. It will last the rest of your life. Read up on the rules and case book every year, attend camps when available, be assertive and authoritative when making your calls, watch as many games/officials as possible, and stay in shape.
5) What was your reaction to getting elected to the LL hall of fame?
I was totally shocked when I heard from the committee. It is an award that will be shared with the chapter of officials, coaches, and athletic directors. It shows the respect of those mentioned that they appreciate our time and effort. There are also the ones that go unnoticed: Scorekeepers, timers, ticket-takers, game day managers, and athletic directors. They are all part of the game day experience.
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