Writer / Claire Rightley
Holding up the winning wrestler’s arm, Avon’s Zach Errett looked around at the roaring crowd and then up at his own image plastered on the massive television screen mounted above him.
Errett, a wrestling coach and chemistry teacher at Avon High School, was refereeing an Olympic wrestling match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Errett was one of two wrestling referees selected from the United States. In addition to Rio, Errett was chosen as a referee at the 2012 Olympics in London. He said he hopes to be in Tokyo in 2020, as well.
“Every part is a four-year cycle,” Errett said, “so I wouldn’t say you start over again. But you certainly look at the evaluations from that tournament, along with what went on throughout the course of the year, and then you kind of start back over again and start working through the tournaments. So I’ll have to go to tournaments again starting next year, and from there be evaluated and certainly hopefully have the chance maybe to go again in 2020 in Tokyo.”
Errett certainly isn’t new to the world of wrestling. He was first exposed to the sport as a child, and it has continued to be a part of his life as an adult.
“I started it when I was 5 years old and wrestled all the way through high school,” he said. “I didn’t wrestle in college, but I did start coaching about a year after college.”
“I started refereeing when I was in middle school,” Errett said. “I did my first national tournament at the age of 16. I’ve been doing that along with wrestling as well, so I’ve been involved with wrestling for the past 33 years.”
All of his years of experience led him to refereeing at the Olympics. He said the process of being selected as a referee for the Olympics is long but worth it.
“You have to have a certain category, so you go to tournaments and get evaluated, and if you reach a certain level category, then you have the opportunity to be selected for the Olympics,” Errett said. “I’ve been fortunate to be at that level, and I was fortunate to be selected as one of the referees to go.”
Errett said it’s an honor to go to the Olympics representing the United States.
“I’m going there as a representation of them, and I want to make sure I’m doing the best job that I can,” he said.
In addition to his role in the Rio games as a referee, he said he enjoyed getting to view other sporting events, which is not something he’s been able to do before.
“For the first time, I actually had a chance to go watch another sporting event,” Errett said. “Typically, we don’t get tickets to go to any other events. I happened to go with some friends from another country who were going to watch beach volleyball.”
Errett said he enjoyed the trip overall and will continue refereeing tournaments in hopes of returning to the Olympics.
“Going to referee the Olympics is certainly an honor,” he said. “I’m certainly very thankful for the opportunity and for the people who helped me to get to that point.”