Super Senior: Paul Trono
ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - Friday Football Frenzy in St. Albans. It’s also homecoming weekend for Bellows Free Academy and fans are pumped to see their high school take on the combination Burlington/South Burlington football team.
“Oh, tonight’s perfect football weather,” Paul Trono said.
Paul is a veteran official for this fall tradition.
“By many years,” he laughed. “And by many years doing the game and many years in age.”
He’s been patrolling the gridiron for more than half a century.
“I don’t get nervous anymore about it,” he said. “I get excited about these games and I know each one of these games to these kids that are playing, this is the most important game in their life.”
Paul grew up just feet away from the University of Vermont back when football was still a hit at UVM.
“Our backyard was the end zone of Centennial Field,” he said.
But in the 1970s, it was game over.
“They just came out at one of the seasons and said, ‘We’re dropping football here,’” he said.
Paul, who learned to love the game as a youth, still had the passion.
“I wanted to stay and get involved in the game somehow,” he said, “so I decided to become an official.”
Now 75, he’s the umpire.
“I can’t run really well, matter of fact I can’t run at all. So in football, being the umpire, back of the defensive line, I can hide there,” Paul said.
Being hidden has its consequences, big boys can hit the man who could be their grandfather.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You worry about that?
Paul: I do, sometimes.
On this night-- a body blow, one of two hits Paul was on the receiving end of during the game. He’s OK.
The game moves on and it’s tight. Paul keeps the players in line, calling out orders like: “54, 54! Just keep your mouth closed!” and “Hey 56, don’t over the line, don’t go downfield!”
He’s also quick with a compliment: “Good job boys!”
“I think they feel they get a fair game out of me when I’m out there,” Paul said.
Paul knows he’s at the sunset of his career, but will this be his last year?
“Ah, no,” he said. “I got up pretty good after being knocked down a couple times, so...”
The game ends with the visitors squeaking out a win. But like Paul, the home team will be back for another game.
“We’ll call it a success,” he said. “Good day, another good day.”
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