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Games 3.15.2006

By Rick Racela

GAMES-ROSSI-3-15
 Ocean City’s Larry Blohm Bids Farewell 
If you’re a sports person or you just care a lot about young people, you have to admire and respect the life and times of Larry Blohm.
This spring, the Palermo resident will wrap up more than three decades of teaching health and physical education and nearly that many seasons of multi-sport coaching at Ocean City Intermediate School.
A native of Prince George’s County, Md., Blohm competed in interscholastic and intercollegiate baseball, basketball and football throughout his formal education, including Virginia’s Fort Union Military Academy and Bridgewater College.
He pauses when queried about personal athletic achievements because for the former defensive back, catcher and point guard, it’s always been about team.
His perspective did not change once he strung a coach’s whistle around his neck.
“Coaching at this level is about teaching values,” said Blohm.  “You need to keep everything in perspective.  It’s not always about winning.  It’s really teamwork and being a team.”
While Blohm’s squads have won their share of Cape-Atlantic Junior High crowns over the years, the coach’s focus remained on the growth and development of his players.
He’s led the Red Raider junior high hoopsters for 28 seasons while simultaneously guiding the school’s soccer and baseball squads for the last 11 campaigns.
Couple his own exploits on the courts and playing fields with his substantial contributions from the bench and sidelines and you have quite a story.  But that’s not the baseline. 
Since 1975, Blohm has also served as an official for football, baseball, softball and basketball.  
Consider also that he and his obviously understanding spouse, Gay, raised two children.  Jeff is a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Massachusetts while Cindy is a 21-year-old junior at Duke.
Perhaps Blohm’s best sport is juggling.
As a basketball official, Blohm has worked all of the frenetic gymnasiums of the CAL and beyond.  He’s managed the best local gridiron clashes as a referee and called balls and strikes, safes and outs, as an umpire for more than a generation of baseball and softball competitors.
He’s been recognized as a leader and mentor for area officials.  Along with his retirement from teaching and coaching, he is also about to step down as president of the Atlantic County Umpires Association (ACUA), which also services Cape May County diamonds.
His well honed skills and array of experience as an umpire with the Amateur Softball Association earned him the ASA’s prestigious “Elite” status.  To qualify for this honor, Blohm officiated at least four national tournaments including at least a pair of majors.
“Officiating was a natural progression for me,” said Blohm.  “You can only play the games for so long, but you want to stay involved with sports.”
An avid tennis competitor, Blohm has never made time for golf.  He says it’s too time consuming, and looking at his calendar; it’s easy to understand that point of view.  Could Gay, also a retiring school teacher, have put up with him for 27 years if he was also addicted to the little white ball?
So what does a man who has seen so much in the world of junior and senior high school sports think has changed most since his playing days and since he started officiating? 
“When I competed and then started officiating, the players and coaches reacted differently to officials,” said Blohm.  “They have a lot more to say to officials these days.  I think that’s a product of TV and society in general.”
Blohm says he’ll especially miss the camaraderie with the other officials.   “It means a lot to get together with the guys afterward,” he said.  “Going out for a sandwich and spending some time talking about the game.  I’ll miss that.”
Blohm advises young officials to be sure they enjoy their roles and not consider the craft as just a job.
“It has to be something you enjoy doing,” he said.  “It should release tension, be an escape from stress.  It’s about giving something back to the game.”
A man who has done so much, for himself and others, while working in a field he loves with a supportive family at home, must have very few regrets.  For Blohm and several Cape May County area veteran officials, there is one thought; it is the lure and temptation to officiate at the next level.
“Our location around here makes it quite difficult to officiate at the college level,” said Blohm.  “Over your career you think about it, but with full-time teaching and coaching, it would have been too much to juggle with distant travel for college games.  I’ve enjoyed doing what I’m doing.”
As he prepares to cruise the slopes and relax on the beaches that retirement promises, how does this active 57-year-old wish to be remembered?
“I’d like to think that the coaches, players and spectators always thought of me as fair and that I hustled whenever I was out there,” said Blohm.  “I tried to do a good job and I hope they know I did the best I could.”

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