Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Zebras - part 2, Calvin Townes

Calvin Townes inspired this min-series about the officials at Outlaws games.

This is a photo of Calvin Townes.  You'll have to stay to
the end of this post to see "The" great photo, the one
that inspired blog posts about the officials.

I had never noticed the officials at Outlaws games.  Except maybe their professionalism.  Always sharply dressed in clean, pressed, zebra-striped uniforms.  Always business-like in facilitating good clean games.  Always respectful of the players.  Always in the background, where officials belong.


Then one of my game photos captured Calvin Townes in action.  He was in perfect position to monitor the play, seeing live what I was seeing in freeze-frame – one player punching another (the punchee deserved it, she had been sneakily doing illegal things) – and throwing the yellow flag because punching is illegal. The photo perfectly (brilliantly?) told the whole story.  (You can see this photo at the end of this post.)


I asked Outlaws General Manager, Lily Messina, if she could get me the name of the official in the photo.  She surprised me by knowing immediately, that was Calvin Townes.  It happens that Calvin is a part of the Outlaws adventure, a contributor to their success.


Calvin and I have one thing in common, an enormous respect for the ladies of professional football.  When I visited Outlaws practices I was impressed at how hard the women worked at playing the game, how eager they were to learn.  Calvin, too, admires the Outlaws spirit and gives of his time to support them.


Calvin visiting with injured Outlaw
Jennifer Beaumont.  He genuinely
cares about the Outlaw players.
Lily says of Calvin, he's the guy who always makes sure we have a crew lined up for the season. He's always calling to see if we have any questions. He shows up at practices, walk-throughs, tryouts when we've asked him to. He treats us very well and takes care of us as an organization. You can tell he loves us and enjoys making contributions to helping our players”


He knows the players.  I asked Calvin about a pre-game photo of him with one of the Outlaws.  He said “That’s Amber Lyons. She’s number 32.  Amber is a great player.”

Outlaw #32 Amber Lyons posing with Calvin
before a game.

He cares.  When I asked him what the Referee’s job is (the referee is the official with the white hat who lines up behind the quarterback) Calvin said “He makes sure the quarterback doesn’t get killed.” 


Marcus Gravenburg and Calvin.
They travel to Waco to
officiate the annual scrimmage
with a couple Dallas teams.
A part of the Outlaws pre-season practice is a trip to Waco where they meet a couple Dallas teams for a scrimmage.  It is a great opportunity for rookies to get the feel of actual blocking and tackling and for veterans to size up the competition.  Calvin Townes and crewmate Marcus Gravenburg officiate these scrimmages.

Calvin officiating at the Waco scrimmage.  Note #32,
Amber Lyons, leading in making the tackle.  Calvin
says "She's a great player."
Marcus Gravenburg, Calvin's crewmate officiating at
a Waco scrimmage.

After the scrimmage they meet with the players and “answer questions about the rules, discuss how we’d handle certain situations, what they can and cannot do.”  Football is a complicated game with lots and lots of rules.  The Waco trip is a great opportunity for player learn.    

Calvin recently has been the timer at Outlaws games so you don’t see him on the field.  Before retiring to the timer desk he was an umpire.  The umpire lines up behind the defense, about ten yards off the line of scrimmage.  I consider that the most dangerous position for an official because the flow of the play is coming right at him.

Calvin is/was the umpire lining up behind the defensive line and linebackers.  In my mind this is
the toughest job for the officials because the action is going to come his way and he has to know
how to avoid getting involved but still make the call.

Lily tells about a time when running back Monica Gauck used the umpire as a blocker. “ After the short little pass to get just past the line of scrimmage, Monica scooted around the Ump.  The linebacker who thought she was going to tackle Monica ran into the Official instead.”


Calvin says he knows the game and knows how to position himself so he doesn’t get in the middle of the action.  But the officials are part of the field and running into them doesn’t stop the play.


In spite of his connection with the team, Calvin is every bit the professional during games.  Lily says of his love for the team, Unfortunately, that ceases at the coin toss and he treats us like any other team.”


Which leads to my favorite photo.  Where Calvin is in the perfect position to see what is going on.  He notices one of the Outlaws punching an opponent.  Even if the opponent deserved the punch, punching is illegal and Calvin throws the flag. 

On the field Calvin is professional, unbiased.  If an Outlaw breaks a rule, he'll throw the flag.
This is one of my all time favorite photos because it captures the whole story.  You can almost
hear the whistle blowing.  Well, it does omit whatever the Houston player was
doing before to incite the wrath of the Outlaw.


I first met the Outlaws when I retired from my day job and decided to pursue a lifelong ambition to be a sports photographer/writer.  I’ve found this team attracts a lot of really nice people and I’ve even done a couple posts to the blog labeled “nice people.”  Calvin Townes is one of them.  A really nice guy.  I’m happy I got to meet him and I’m happy to introduce him to you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about one of my fellow officials. Calvin was the best and nicest guy in the world.

Unfortunately, He passed away this weekend.

We'll miss you a ton Calvin!


Anonymous said...

The season won't be the same without him out there reminding us that we are "ladies". I can hear him saying..."now now ladies". He was good to us.

JayJay Arispe Baker #52

rod said...

Thank you for sharing these memories of Calvin. He was a professional to the end. I will miss his smile and his warm laugh. He was a GOOD man!

Rodney Sustaita
Falcon Athletic League

Anonymous said...

Information on the memorial service for Calvin is below:

Superior Memorial Services
1916 Tillery Street
Austin, TX 78723
Memorial Service for Mr. Calvin Townes
Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 4 – 6 pm


Calvin S. Townes Jr. was born on January 6, 1956. He started working at TxDOT on March 1, 1979 in the warehouse. He later moved to the Finance Division where he has been processing vouchers for many years. In fact, with almost 34 years of service, Calvin was the longest tenured TxDOT employee currently working in the Finance Division. He was a huge Chicago Bears fan, a part time referee, and basically loved talking about sports of any and all kinds. We will all miss Calvin and it’s going to take a long time getting used to the sudden absence of his loud, yet always friendly, voice!

Anonymous said...

I knew calvin back in the 80's at the skating rink in south Austin where he was a DJ....great man!!!!

Anonymous said...

I knew him also from way back at TLC. He was a good person....MOS