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Football Official Kelly Banyai: ‘I Like Being Part Of A Team Again’
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/21/2017 10:53:38 AM

A few high school football players in Minnesota have been a little surprised in recent weeks after addressing an official as “sir” and then quickly realizing their mistake. Kelly Banyai has heard that honorific several times on the field, but it doesn’t bother her one little bit.

“They’ll call me ‘sir’ and then they apologize and I’m like, ‘That’s OK. No big deal.’ It doesn’t matter to me,” said Banyai, who is one of a small number of females among 1,433 football officials registered with the MSHSL and is believed to be the only woman working varsity games in 2017.

Banyai, 39, is the mother of two children ages 10 and nine; her husband Matt is a St. Paul firefighter. They live in Prior Lake, where Kelly played high school basketball before continuing her basketball career at St. Mary’s University in Winona. She is in her second year as an MSHSL football official and her first year working varsity games. She is a back judge, positioned behind the defense.

“You learn from everybody,” she said. ‘I like being part of a team again. It’s really fun, it’s a good hobby. I can’t scrapbook, I’m not artsy, I hate shopping. I wish I would have done it when I was in my 20s and got an earlier start. I’m telling my kids, ‘You’re going to be a referee.’ It teaches you so much about handling situations.”

She began thinking about officiating when her son began playing youth football. She was explaining some of the rules to him when she realized, “I always watch and love football but never played or coached. I had a desire to be somewhat involved.”

She went to the MSHSL website and filled out a form for people interested in officiating. She soon received a phone call from Tom Wollan, an experienced official with the Suburban Officials Association. Young MSHSL officials are paired with veterans, and Wollan became Banyai’s mentor.

“Tom called me and he was so welcoming,” she said. “I didn’t want to do any other sports. The plays are really quick, you keep moving, the parents aren’t right on top of you. I’ve enjoyed it so much. Everyone in the Suburban Association has been so helpful.”

Wollan was the referee (informally known as the white cap) and Banyai was the back judge for last Friday’s Chaska-Chanhassen game. She was filling in for Gordy Hanson, a regular member of Wollan’s crew who was off to officiate a college game. Banyai is not part of a regular officiating crew but fills in for absent officials this season.

“Gordy is about as good an official as there is in the state of Minnesota,” said Wollan, a 16-year official who has worked in three state tournaments and one Prep Bowl. “We wanted to get the best possible sub we could for our crew. It became an opportunity for someone who was not as experienced. Kelly took to it pretty nicely. This year we said, ‘Why don’t we have her on our games when Gordy is gone.’ Will she be on a full-time crew next year? Probably.

“I think she’s got good aptitude, and she certainly has a good attitude for it. You like people around you who say, ‘Tell me what to do to be better.’ I’ve known her since before the 2016 season and I would have no hesitation in taking her on our crew full-time if for some reason there was on opening.”

Like a football player, Banyai has tried to gain as much experience as possible in order to improve her skills. She began her career last season by working lower-level games and flag football.

“I’ve tried to get as many snaps as I could,” she said. “I tell the crews, ‘There are so many things I’m horrible at.’ ”

She works in medical sales for Integra LifeSciences. She laughed when talking about officiating and sales: “In reffing you need a thick skin, and being in sales it has to be the thickest.”

Banyai has worked some big rivalry games this season. A week before the Chaska-Chanhassen game she was on the field when Mankato East and Mankato West squared off. She said she’s so focused on her job that she rarely notices the fans.

“I don’t hear the crowd until I try to hear the crowd,” she said.

Banyai spends time each week watching video of the teams she will see on Friday night. “That’s a good way to train, especially for the back judge,” she said. “ ‘Where are my keys, what am I looking for?’ ”

She’s thrilled that she became an official and encourages others to do the same.

“More people need to sign up to be refs,” she said. “It’s a needed position. We have so much sports for youth in Minnesota and we need to be supportive of all parts of it.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Nine-Man Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/20/2017 5:38:43 PM

The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 20 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters):

NINE-MAN
School Total Points Prv
1. Cromwell (4) (3-0) 62 2
2. Spring Grove (1) (3-0) 56 3
3. Houston (1) (3-0) 48 5
4. Stephen-Argyle (3-0) 46 4
5. Nevis (1) (3-0) 42 8
6. Ely (3-0) 22 9
7. Cleveland (2-1) 18 T6
8. Red Rock Central (3-0) 17 NR
9. Verndale (3-0) 15 NR
10. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (3-0) 11 NR
(tie)Grand Meadow (2-1) 11 T6
Others receiving votes: Rothsay 9, Wrenshall 6, Cook County 5, Floodwood 5, Bertha-Hewitt 4, Waubun 3, Westbrook-Walnut Grove 3, Hills-Beaver Creek 1, McGregor 1.



Class 1A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/20/2017 5:38:20 PM

The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 20 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters):

CLASS 1A
School Total Points Prv
1. Rushford-Peterson (5) (3-0) 51 1
2. Wabasso (3-0) 46 2
3. Braham (3-0) 43 3
4. Minneota (3-0) 35 5
5. Goodhue (3-0) 31 7
6. BOLD (1) (3-0) 30 6
7. Murray County Central (3-0) 26 4
8. Ottertail Central (3-0) 20 NR
9. Ada-Borup (4-0) 15 9
10. Mayer Lutheran (3-0) 13 8
Others receiving votes: Upsala-Swanville 8, Red Lake County 6, Blooming Prairie 5, Randolph 1.



Class 2A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/20/2017 5:37:51 PM

The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 20 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters):

CLASS 2A
School Total Points Prv
1. Caledonia (6) (3-0) 67 1
2. Barnesville (3-0) 62 2
3. Minneapolis North (1) (3-0) 58 4
4. Hawley (3-0) 46 7
5. Redwood Valley (3-0) 36 NR
6. Triton (2-1) 29 8
7. Minnewaska (3-0) 28 NR
8. Pipestone (3-0) 25 NR
9. United North Central (3-0) 19 NR
10. Concordia Academy-Roseville (2-1) 5 NR
Others receiving votes: Maple River 4, Moose Lake-Willow River 3, Warroad 2, Pillager 1.



Class 3A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/20/2017 5:37:23 PM

The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 20 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters):

CLASS 3A
School Total Points Prv
1. St. Croix Lutheran (7) (3-0) 88 1
2. Rochester Lourdes (1) (3-0) 79 2
3. Pierz (1) (3-0) 76 3
4. Stewartville (3-0) 63 4
5. Holy Family Catholic (3-0) 42 8
6. Annandale (3-0) 41 10
7. Perham (3-0) 39 7
8. Breck (3-0) 24 NR
9. Sibley East (3-0) 20 NR
10. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (2-1) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Fairmont 6, Glencoe-Silver Lake 2, Esko 1, Virginia 1, Providence Academy-Heritage Christian Academy-Maranatha 1, Spectrum 1.



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