We Strive to Provide the Highest Quality Officials

for High School Baseball, Basketball, Football,

and Softball in Minnesota

Mission

The mission of Gopher State Officials Association is to serve member schools with qualified high school officials in the sports of basketball, baseball, football, and softball, and to educate the officials who are members of the association.

Governance

Gopher State operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Minnesota, under the Bylaws as adopted by the Association. It is governed by a ten member Board of Directors. Each sport has an assigner and a clinician. Contact by members and prospective members with the Board, the Assigners, and the Clinicians is encouraged.

How Gopher State Started

Gopher has a rich history as an association of officials dating back to the 1950s. Don Bertek started the association shortly after getting his start officiating in the metro area. Don started umpiring High School, American Legion, College and Park National baseball in the 50's. In the early 60's, Don was one of the six charter members meeting at Arthur's restaurant in North East Minneapolis to start an officials group, which became known as "Gopher State Officials Association." The charter members of Gopher State Officials were:


Don Bertek

Paul Brown

Bill Milcarek

Stan Olson

Bob Thorson

Bozo Wincek


From those six that were all baseball umpires, the group grew to twenty in a couple of years and started to look for basketball and football games to officiate. Stan Olson was the assigner in the beginning, handling all of the 50 games that we had. He stayed with Gopher till 1970 when he retired and Don took over.


Under Don, the group continued to grow. It added the sports of volleyball and wrestling but then dropped these two sports after a few years. Besides the assigning of games for Gopher, Don was instrumental in holding many meetings over the years at his house and planning all the big social events each year.


When the Adapted Sports were added to the high schools, Don was instrumental in giving clinics, writing the rules and assigning the officials to the contests.


Don helped foster and develop relationships with athletic directors around the state and the Twin Cities, and helped maintain these relationships when he took on assignment of the lower level games for many of the athletic directors in the metro area. Don was also actively involved in the negotiating process with the metro conferences for fees in basketball, football, baseball, and softball. He was on the first negotiating team for officials and had an active role in the following years.


Don was instrumental in the growing of Gopher by actively recruiting of new members, giving members an opportunity to grow, and securing assignments of officials for an abundance of Junior and Senior High School events through his hard work with the schools. After Don retired in 1997, Bozo Wincek has taken over these important roles and continued to grow Gopher State Officials. From 1997 to 2021, Bozo continued Don's hard work to maintain relationships with Gopher's schools. After starting with 50 or so contests the first year, Gopher now assigns several thousand contests between football, basketball, baseball, and softball that each require from one to five officials.


Because of Don and Bozo's strong leadership, Gopher has grown its membership to several hundred officials. Besides being one of the largest groups in the metro area, it is one of the best. Many schools around the area agree, as Gopher services several dozen schools around the state. We continue to strive to provide the best possible officials for our schools and train our officials to be the best they can be.


We are glad you are interested in Gopher State. If you want to officiate with us, please get in touch with us and we'd be happy to put you in touch with the right person to get you started. If you are a school and would like to have Gopher officiate your games, please get in touch with Greg Swan here. We are excited to build off of Don and Bozo's leadership and continue to expand Gopher's reach and train our officials to continue to be the best officiating association in the state of Minnesota.

Gopher State Officials Association Historical Points of Interest

1963

➢ The first sport for Gopher State was baseball

➢ The first conference Gopher officiated in was the Wright County Conference

➢ The very first high school baseball game Gopher officiated was Delano vs Watertown

➢ There were 50 games to assign in the first year for Gopher

1965 - There were 20 officials in the Gopher Officials Association.

1967 - Basketball was added to serve the need of area high schools.

1970 - Stan Olson retired, and Don Bertek became the assigner. Football was added to serve the needs of area high schools.

1973 - Gopher serviced 50 schools. Gopher had 750 officiating assignments.

1975 - Gopher added girls’ basketball and girls’ softball.

1983 - Gopher serviced 65 schools. Gopher had 1,750 officiating assignments.

1993 - Gopher membership hits 250 officials. Gopher serviced 85 schools. Gopher had 3,000 officiating assignments.

1997 - Don Bertek retired and Bozo Wincek became the assigner. Gopher membership was at 275 officials.

2003 - Gopher served 100 schools. Gopher had 3,900 officiating assignments.

2013 - Gopher membership has 375 officials. Gopher served 125 schools. Gopher had 4,400 officiating assignments.

Conferences served were: North Suburban, Northwest Suburban, Minneapolis, Wright County, Mississippi 8, Lake Conference, Tri-Metro, Suburban East

2014 - Gopher membership has 410 officials. Gopher has 4,828 assignments this year.

2021 - Gopher membership reaches an all-time high with 481 active officials. There currently are 179 officials in football, 244 in basketball, 105 in baseball and 141 in softball.