Petaluma's Reischling goes full circle
Long-time official returns to San Mateo to join the Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
Mark Reischling has come full circle.
Reischling returned to the San Mateo County Fairgrounds, near where he played basketball at Meadow Heights Elementary School, to be inducted into the 2012 Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
It is a big deal. Previous inductees include John Madden, Bill Walsh and Barry Bonds. Joining Reischling as one of this year's inductees was 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Reischling was honored for his 42 years of basketball officiating. During that time, he has worked more than 1,800 games. He has officiated 19 conference championship games in five different division conferences, 22 NCAA tournaments, including working in the Final Four of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
“I was completely blown away when I heard about my selection,” Reischling said. “I was very, very touched. It was a gratifying experience.”
Reischling played basketball for Hillsdale High, College of San Mateo and Chico State College before turning to coaching and teaching. He coached at Gridley High School before coming to Petaluma to teach and become head basketball coach in 1972.
Eventually, as he became more involved in officiating and moved up in the ranks, he was forced to give up coaching. He continued in the classroom, teaching at Petaluma for more than 20 years.
Reischling began officiating while he was still attending college at Chico State, starting in the Chico Recreation League. Although he loves all aspects of basketball, he began officiating for mercenary reasons. “My wife and I were both going to college and she suggested that I should bring some money into our foundation,” he said.
Little did he know that the effort to raise a few extra dollars would lead him all over the United States and involve him in some of the country's largest sporting events.
While he was coaching, he shied away from officiating high school games and began concentrating on working junior college games. That led to work in the Division 2 Far Western Conference and on to the Pac-10 and eventually to the NCAA Tournament.
“It has been an interesting journey,” he said. “I just kept getting opportunities. Five years after I began working D-1 games, I went to the Western Regional Finals and in 2001, I worked the Final Four.
“I loved it from the get-go. It was a way to be a part of the game I love.”
He said officiating also helped him in the classroom. “It gave me a chance to talk with the kids about the game and the places I've been. It gave me a different connection with them,” he explained.
Reischling said that when he first began working college games, officials were a lot more anonymous than today.
“You're on the big stage now,” he said. “There is no place to hide. There is video, slow motion, reverse action. That became my world.”
His officiating has taken him all over the country, but at the end of the season, he was always ready to come home.
“Petaluma is a very special community,” he said. “It is some place unique. I'm very proud to be a Petaluman.”
He is also very proud to be a husband to wife, Terri, a retired elementary school teacher who he calls “a legend at Grant School,” and a father to sons Kyle and Matt. All were on hand, along with many other family members and friends for his induction.
“It was nice to have them there. It was special,” he said.
Although he has retired from both teaching and officiating, Reischling is not ready to completely give up his connection to basketball.
He continues to evaluate officials for the NBA and will also work as a technical advisor for the Pac-12, doing much the same thing he does for the NBA.
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