Audio Interview: Rick Tucci
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
FILA, the international wrestling federation, has announced that three wrestling officials from the United States have been named to work the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
The U.S. officials selected to work at the 2012 Olympics are Rick Tucci of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Zach Errett of Plainfield, Ind. and Stacey Davis of Powder Springs, Ga.
For Tucci, it will be his eighth assignment for the Olympic Games, and the seventh Olympic Games that he will officiate. Tucci also worked the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was selected to work the 1980 Moscow Olympics but did not participate due to the U.S. boycott. Tucci has served as the president of the U.S. Wrestling Officials Association since 1988.
Errett and Davis will be working their first Olympic Games as officials. Both have recently been named USA Wrestling Officials of the Year, Davis in 2011 and Errett in 2010.
These officials were evaluated along with the best referees from across the world over the last two years. As part of the evaluation process, they worked the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, the 2011 Olympic Test Event in London, England and the 2012 European Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
The dates of the wrestling competition at the 2012 Olympic Games are August 5-12 at the ExCel Center.
Quotes from the U.S. wrestling referees for the London Olympics
Rick Tucci of Pembroke Pines, Fla.
"I'm very excited to go, as I have been at all Olympics. I'm especially excited for London, as I am bringing my wife and two boys along with me. It is good to know you have been selected. I will do what I can to make sure my mat makes the right calls. I have done more Olympics that any other American. I feel honored and humbled."
Zach Errett of Plainfield, Ind.
"For me, it is a great honor to be selected. There are a number of great referees who have made it to the Olympic Games and a number of others who were not selected. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity."
"Ever since I got the Olympic category rank, every year has been an evaluation process. You have to perform every year to maintain your category. It has seemed like an ongoing process, ever since the Europeans in Azerbaijan and the Worlds in Russia. It is always a process to try to get better as an official. You watch other referees and see what they do well. We have great tournaments in the United States, and those events get us prepared to work the Olympics."
"I appreciate a lot of people who have helped me get where I am. They were instrumental in my development. I thank Rick Tucci, Bill Stecklein, Tom Clark, my dad. They deserve a lot of credit. People in my school district have also been great to me. I appreciate everybody who has helped."
Stacey Davis of Powder Springs, Ga.
"It's a dream come true. You look back at all the great people in our sport who have never had this opportunity and it is humbling. I am blessed to be in the situation I am in, and I am very grateful."
(about selection process)
"You know, it was a grind. It takes perseverance and you have to keep your head up. I decided not to worry about it. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. Just do the best job that you can. I believe things happen for a reason."
"I was at the '96 Olympics in Atlanta working as a volunteer and supporting the U.S. team. I said that the next Olympics I'd go to was one I'd be involved in. I wasn't going as an athlete, and most likely not going as a coach. I believed if I worked hard enough, the best opportunity for me was as an official. It happened for me this year."
Biographies of the U.S. wrestling referees for the London Olympics
Rick Tucci of Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Tucci has served as president of the U.S. Wrestling Officials Association since 1988. He is one of the most respected and decorated wrestling referees in American sports history.
For Tucci, it will be his eighth assignment for the Olympic Games, and the seventh Olympic Games that he will officiate. Tucci also worked the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was selected to work the 1980 Moscow Olympics but did not participate due to the U.S. boycott.
Tucci is a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and was recently inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame. Tucci has also received the Lifetime Achievement of Officials award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame,
Tucci won the FILA Gold Whistle as the top referee working the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He was named the Outstanding Referee at the 1977 World Championships. He has worked hundreds of World Championship events on all levels, and has estimated that he has travelled to over 100 nations to officiate wrestling competitions or conduct officials clinics.
He has served as a FILA instructor for many years, and currently serves on the FILA Refereeing Department
Tucci was named USA Wrestling's Man of the Year in 1997, and was named USA Wrestling Official of the Year in 1992.
Tucci has been a longtime member of the USA Wrestling Board of Directors, has served as a member of the USA Wrestling Executive Committee and has served on numerous standing and ad-hoc committees of the organization.
He is also recognized as one of the best folkstyle wrestling officials, having worked high school and college events for many years, as well as holding leadership positions for high school wrestling within the state of Florida.
Tucci went undefeated in dual meets competing at Toms River South High School. He was also a successful varsity wrestler for West Virginia University. As a coach, Tucci posted an impressive record of 106-4 in 10 seasons at Miami Dade Junior College.
Tucci earns his living as a middle-school physical education teacher in Florida.
Zach Errett, Plainfield, Ind.
Errett is ranked as a USA M1 official, and has received the FILA Olympic category rating, one of four U.S. referees with this classification. He will be working his first Olympic Games in London.
Zach has been officiating since he was in middle school, working tournaments in which he competed as an athlete. He received his first official's license in 1993.
Among the top international events he has worked are the last two Senior World Championships, the European Championships, the Olympic Test event, the Pan American Games, the Junior World Championships and the Freestyle World Cup. He has travelled to Venezuela, Brazil, Poland, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Germany, Serbia, Russia
and Azerbaijan as a referee.
Errett received the prestigious FILA Golden Whistle Award at the 2010 World Wrestling Championships in Moscow, Russia. The award is presented to the outstanding referees at the competition.
He was named USA Wrestling Official of the Year in 2010.
He has worked the World Team Trials and U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the last eleven years. Included were the 2004 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Ind, the 2008 Olympic Trials in Las Vegas, Nev. and the 2012 Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa.
Errett worked the U.S. Open for 13 straight years. He has officiated for many years at the Junior and Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D., only missing a few years when he had international assignments. He also worked the Espoir National Championships, in additional to numerous Regional and local competitions.
His father Dave Errett received the USA Wrestling Official of the Year in 1996.
Zach is a teacher at Mooresville High School, where has served as the head wrestling coach for 10 years. He is also a football coach there. He competed in wrestling in high school and as a youth.
Stacey Davis of Powder Springs, Ga.
Davis holds a FILA rank of Olympic category, one of four U.S. referees with this classification. He holds a USA-1 rank domestically. Davis has been a referee within USA Wrestling since 1997. He will be working his first Olympic Games in London.
Among the major events he has worked are the last two Senior World Championships in Russia and Turkey, the European Championships in Serbia, the Olympic Test Event in England, the 2010 Junior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary and the 2009 Women's World Cup in Tayuan, China. He has worked the Pan American Championships in the Senior, Junior and Cadet levels. Davis has also officiated at several FILA Grand Prix events overseas.
Davis was named 2011 USA Wrestling Official of the Year.
He has worked at the last three U.S. Olympic Team Trialas in Indianapolis in 2004, in Las Vegas in 2008 and in Iowa City in 2012. He has attended all of the U.S. Senior National Championships and World Team Trials events from 2002-2011. Davis has also been officiating USA Wrestling age-group national tournaments on many levels since 1996. He has also served on the USWOA Board in the past.
Davis has also been very active as a coach within USA Wrestling, especially within the state association in Georgia. It was his involvement in coaching which led him to become a mat official.
Davis has been active as a coach within Team Georgia since 1996. He has also served as a coach for Holy Innocents High School in Atlanta for a number of years and was named its head wrestling coach starting next season.
He was an NCAA qualifier for the University of North Carolina, competing for Coach Bill Lam from 1982-1986. Davis was also a state champion for Andrews High School in High Point, N.C.