By: David Walter
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) added its newest inductee to their Hall of Fame on April 20th. Larry Hutchinson, a native of Mountain City, received this honor along with 11 others from across the state. The annual induction ceremony was held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and honored the lifetime achievements of the inductees in their respective specialties. Hutchinson was recognized at the ceremony for 30 years of officiating football, 24 years of basketball, and a combined 20 years of officiating collegiate sports.
Hutchinsons passion for officiating sports stems from his own experiences playing sports. I graduated from Johnson County High School in 1971. I played football, baseball, basketball, and I ran track, said Hutchinson. Thats probably how I got into it, plus my father influenced me to do the same things he did. I wasnt a great athlete, but I did work at it. Hutchinson went on to Virginia Highlands Community College and the University of Tennessee, where he studied History. He briefly played some sports but the majority of these were intermural games.
The turning point that laid out the future for Hutchinson occurred at a game he attended in Shady Valley, Tennessee. This game was low on referees and Hutchinson was asked to step in to assist. Afterward, it was recommended that he talk with Ralph Stout about becoming an official. Stout became a pivotal element of Hutchinsons career. Mayor of Mountain City for 19 years and the namesake of the citys park, Stout was an official for 55 years and also inducted into the TSSA Hall of Fame in 1984. Hutchinson explained that he had previously watched Stout and that helped him become the official he is today. Hutchinson also credited official Jim Cradic for his success.
Hutchinson started his career in officiating sports with football, but over the years this would also include basketball. He officiated sports across the board, from middle school to college games; Hutchinson has pretty much seen it all. There are even some players he knew through officiating basketball who eventually went on to play in the NBA. Hutchinson participated in four state championships for both football and basketball championships. He was also an official for a handful of national championships.
With all these years and countless experiences, Hutchinson still believes that the highlight game of his career was last fall. The game was Dobyns Bennett versus Science Hill. Having fallen behind 34-19 up until the fourth quarter, Dobyns Bennett made a stunning comeback by scoring 18 points and winning the game 37-34 with a last minute field goal. It was probably the highlight of my career because of the magnitude of the game, said Hutchinson.
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