Phippsburg’s Elvis Iacovetto retires from officiating after 40 years
Elvis Iacovetto on Friday officiated his last game, wearing the white referee hat at the Colorado 8-man senior game in Black Hawk. The Phippsburg native has been officiating for 40 years and is now retiring from his second job and passion.
Iacovetto, 64, has been a football referee for four decades and officiated basketball for three decades. Putting on the stripes has always been about spending time with the kids, both his own and those in his community, but now he’s ready to lay down the whistle and spend time with his three grandkids.
Iacovetto decided to retire not only to spend more time with family, but simply because he’s not as young as he once was. He has spent less time refereeing the last few years and that transition reassured him it was time. He thought back to when an official friend from Steamboat retired years ago.
“He said, ‘Elvis, the palms just don’t sweat anymore,’” Iacovetto recalled. “He just didn’t get excited to do a football game anymore. So, it’s kind of the same thing. If you can’t go into it whole-hearted and 100% committed, you’re doing an injustice to the kids and yourself. I kind of got to that point.”
Iacovetto began officiating at the age of 24. His wife, Julie, was working at the elementary school and the principal at the school was an official. Through that connection, Iacovetto got his start.
There isn’t one game that sticks out as wild or strange, but there were a few big moments that Iacovetto recalls from his time in the stripes. He got to officiate a playoff game in Cherry Creek who was coached by Dave Logan.
“He’s a big name with the Broncos and Colorado football, so it was fun working his game,” Iacovetto said. “I worked a lot of games in the snow and the rain and wind and cold.”
He also got to meet Nate Solder, current New York Giants tackle and former New England Patriots player. Solder graduated from Buena Vista High School before attending CU Boulder. When Buena Vista made the state championship, Solder flew in and Iacovetto met him while officiating the game. He’s overseen four state championship games, several playoff games and hundreds of others. He was instrumental in getting the smalltown officials on the Western Slope to big games, and was a state officer and helped get mechanics manuals drawn up.
Over the years, Iacovetto has seen fewer and fewer young men join the officials association each year. It’s been getting harder to make the job appealing, but he hopes that some pick it up and can take over for others like him who are considering retirement.
He knows officials tend to be the most hated-person in the room or on the field, but that doesn’t make it any less fun and satisfying.
“We are educated in the rules and know what we’re doing unlike a lot of people think,” Iacovetto said and chuckled. “We’re human. We do make a mistake every once in a while.”
‘Would give you the shirt off his back’
Iacovetto loved spending time with his fellow officials, many of which hailed from the same area, including Pete Koler. Koler traveled to Black Hawk as well for what Iacovetto called his “Final Hurrah.”
“We have fun traveling to and from the games and eating dinner after the games,” Iacovetto said. “It’s just a good camaraderie between all of us.”
Refereeing wasn’t Iacovetto’s only gig. For 24 years he worked as water commissioner for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. He retired from that job in 2011, dedicating more of his time to the family ranch in South Routt County. Ten years later, he’s ready to solely focus on the ranch as well as his three grandkids.
He’s slowly been weaning himself off of officiating. Seven or eight years ago he stepped down at Area Director for the Colorado Football Officials Association.
He encouraged Rusty McRight, a newcomer from Texas to take over. McRight is still the Area Director.
McRight met Iacovetto in Steamboat at McDonalds while visiting Steamboat before moving to the Yampa Valley. It wasn’t the first Mcdonalds the pair would sit in together. The fast food chain is Iacovetto’s favorite spot to request for a post-game fuel up. Iacovetto welcomed McRight into the area official’s group with open arms.
McRight has only known Iacovetto eight years and mostly in an officiating capacity, but that didn’t limit the good things he had to say about his now former coworker.
“(He’s) driven, motivated, super kind, (would) give you the shirt off his back,” McRight said. “Opinionated but in a good way. He would bend over backwards to help you achieve your goals as far as officiating is concerned. There’s lots of little quirks about Elvis which are going to stay in the association.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Steamboat Springs 2021 graduate Thomas Lewer will always set lofty goals.