Local referee follows in dad's footsteps with dream of college officiating
COLUMBIA - Being a basketball referee can be an unforgivable job. The constant yelling from fans, arguing from coaches; most wouldn't want to do it. But Bobby Vestal's dad did it for as long as he could remember, so naturally, he wanted to also.
"I always wanted to be like my dad," Bobby Vestal said. "I can remember being five and six years old and going to places like Moberly Junior College and having to sit in the stands while he's reffing."
Bobby's first game with his dad came just a few years after his first game, about 12 years ago. Eventually, two years ago, though, it was time for Dan Vestal to retire.
"He'd been talking about it for years," Bobby Vestal said. "He was just having trouble getting up and down the court. He kind of realized he needed to hang it up."
So in his final game, it was only fitting that Dan's partner was his son. In a Moberly junior varsity game, Bobby and Dan officiated their final game together.
"He hugged me before the game started, usually you give that fist bump," Bobby Vestal said. "But he gave me a hug before the game ended, so I'll always remember that."
"I didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal, but they kind of had a little celebration for me," Dan Vestal said. "It was pretty cool to do the last game with my son."
In the time since then, Bobby has increased the number of games he's doing and is officiating higher levels of high school. During the off-seasons he is going to division-one camps. Now, he tries to go even further than his dad did.
"He always says, 'you got further than I ever did in a shorter amount of time' so I must be doing something right, right now," Bobby Vestal said.
And now his dad wants Bobby to advance, but just enjoy the journey.
"I want him to be good at what he does," Dan Vestal said. "But I also want him to say, when he walks off the court, 'hey, I gave it my best shot.'"