For the past 50-plus years, Hillsboro’s own Paul Tomazzoli has umpired football, baseball and softball at the high school, collegiate and national level. On Dec. 31, 2021, Tomazzoli retired and has officially called his last call.
After graduating from Nokomis High School in 1963, where he lettered in football and baseball, Tomazzoli continued his love of these two sports by becoming a high school official. He was selected to do several all-star showcases in both football and basketball and was assigned to officiate three Illinois state football championship games, the maximum allowed at the time. In 2002, after 37 years of officiating high school sports, he retired.
In 1970, Tomazzoli began a career with the American Softball Association (ASA), which later became known as the United States Softball Association (USA) when women’s softball was added to the Olympics.
Over the years, he was selected to umpire in 10 national USA softball championships and six United States national junior college championships, where he was assigned as the home plate umpire in five of the six championship games.
Tomazzoli worked college softball for 21 years, officiating in several different conferences, including the Big Ten, Ohio Valley and Missouri Valley. He also served as the Mid-America Conference Umpire In Chief (UIC), assigning the umpires for all college games in the conference for 17 years.
One of the highlights of Tomazzoli’s career was being selected to umpire for the U.S. women’s Olympic softball team twice while they were on tour in the Midwest.
Recognized as one of the state’s top softball officials, in 2000, Tomazzoli became the UIC for Illinois USA. For the past 21 years, he was the umpire in chief for 33 national championships and is the longest serving UIC in the history of Illinois USA.
In 2011, Tomazzoli was appointed to the title of Region UIC by the National Softball Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK. He was one of 10 Region UICs in the United States, with his region consisting of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and part of Ohio.
As Region 6 UIC, Tomazzoli was in charge of training over 3,200 umpires and was considered one of the best trainers in the country for more than 15 years. He was also responsible for assigning the umpires for all national championship games in his region and in 2021, he received the regional award for excellence for Region 6 by the National ASA.
In the spring of 2021, the Canadian Olympic team hosted national games in Marion in southern Illinois. Tomazzoli was asked to select, assign and evaluate umpires for the games, which included the Mexican Olympic team, the Netherlands Olympic team, the Canadian Olympic team and two college all-star teams. When the games concluded, Tomazzoli was commended by the Canadian Administrator for his outstanding job in assigning the umpires.
In 2004, in recognition of an outstanding career in softball, Tomazzoli was inducted into the Illinois Hall of Fame, the highest honor attainable in the Illinois Amateur Softball Association.
While he may no longer be behind the plate, Tomazzoli’s impact on the sport he loves will be felt for generations to come.
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