“I want kids and athletes to understand that there are rules that have to be followed in sports as well as in school…” ~ James Payne IHSAA Official and FWCS school resource officer
James Payne is a man that understands how important it is to build trust with young people (especially during these turbulent times that we’re in) and will go the extra mile if it will help a young person grow and mature into a viable citizen in our community. Payne is more than a police officer. He has maintained his love of sports he had as a child in Murray, Kentucky by becoming a highly regarded official for high school and college basketball, football contests, as well as an umpiring baseball here in Indiana. I had the pleasure of spending some time with him recently and allowed him to share his thoughts about a number of subjects as a guest on today’s Courtside.
Q: Officer Payne, welcome to Courtside . I appreciate your taking the time to share a few “nuggets” about yourself with us and I’ll dive right with my first question if that’s all right with you?
Q: So, officer obviously you enjoy what you do, and have the very unique position of wearing several different hats that allow you to impact young people. Walk us through what it is that you do on a daily basis.
A: “Well, I’m an SRO (Student Resource Officer) for FWCS and police officer here in Fort Wayne as well as working in athletics as a referee (basketball), official (football) and umpire (baseball) so this keeps me pretty busy. The thing that I’m blessed with is that God has given me the ability to work with young people and reach them. I’ve always been a “kid at heart” from having parents that were athletes along with 4 siblings who were athletic as well. My parents taught us not only about love, but spreading love and adopting the saying “each one teach one” in our daily lives.
As an officer I found this to be an amazing way to sew a positive seed in the lives of the people that I came in contact with. Even if something happens negative, we can work through it and make something positive come out of it. I want kids and athletes to understand that there are rules that have to be followed in sports as well as in school and get them to ask themselves the question: Is it me that got me in this situation or am I looking to place the blame on someone else? Check the mirror first before placing blame. What a unique position that I’m in to take all types of negative situations and turn them into positive results and I’m thankful for that.”
Q: Okay let’s talk about why you would want to become an official in sports. I mean, are you nuts! Isn’t being a police officer stressful enough? (laughter…)
A: Well actually it goes back to when I played football. I had a coach tell me that it will come a time when you won’t be able to play this game anymore, but you can still be a part of it by becoming a referee. I was approached by a great guy Jud Raver (who was a long time official ) I prayed about it and got peace in my thoughts and decided to get fully licensed in 3 sports (football, basketball, and baseball) and that’s when things took off and it’s become pretty successful and rewarding for me.”
Q: So how have all of these hats that you wear helped you to become successful at what you do?
A: “Basically, it’s all about communication, being honest and loving. In all of the roles that I have there are rules that have to be followed and guidelines enforced. I try to stick to the Golden Rule which is to “treat others in the way that you’d like to be treated.” I try to be a positive light in everyone’s life.”
Q: Okay I’m going to put you on the spot. If I placed 3 telephones in front of you and each was marked # Referee # Official # Umpire and they all rang at the same time, which one would you pick up first?
A: “That’s easy coach, I’m picking up the football referee phone first! I played the game and ain’t nothing like the pigskin! I’ve had some special people influence me in the game of football, and in all honesty, football opened doors for all of the other things to happen for me in my life here in Indiana so that’s my foundation. But, for now I will continue to do all 3 because I enjoy it a lot and it allows me to touch kids’ lives in a major way!”
Mr. Payne, we appreciate ALL that you and the manner in which you do it for our youth in Indiana!