In a game between third-graders from Holy Redeemer and St. Paul in Fenton parishes earlier this month, referees Neil Fischer and Frank Neal kept the game on pace, calling fouls and guiding the players when needed. Players competed hard and had fun — another success for the newly named Logan Warnecke Memorial Basketball Tournament for third- and fourth-graders at St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in St. Louis.
Warnecke was killed by a motorist Dec. 6 while crossing a street in Columbia, Mo., where he was a senior at the University of Missouri. The 2016 graduate of St. John Vianney High School and St. Raphael parishioner was a business major there. The parish athletic association renamed the tournament to honor the valued referee who displayed skill in working with parents, coaches and players.
Warnecke started scorekeeping at St. Raphael in the eighth grade and began refereeing the next year. While at Mizzou, he came home on weekends to referee at the tournament. On a Saturday last year, he refereed 12 games back to back.
“He was a great kid, and a hard worker,” said Brian Vollmer, one of the organizers of the tournament. “Logan is an example of what the CYC and this tournament are supposed to be.”
Naming the tournament after Warnecke was “a no-brainer,” Vollmer said.
Another parishioner who oversees the tournament, Jamie Davis, said Warnecke was an example and mentor to the younger referees. “He had such an effect on us.”
Warnecke was adept at explaining the game to the players, “showing a true CYC mentality,” Davis said.
The tournament began about 30 years ago and is an example of the many CYC tournaments in all sports that operate only because of the game officials such as Warnecke who are dedicated to their task.
Frank Neal, a Saint Louis University junior, was a year behind Warnecke at St. Raphael. He took time in between refereeing games at the tournament to talk about his fellow referee. “He put in a lot of hours,” Neal said. “It’s not the best of conditions, given the aggression of parents and coaches sometimes. But Logan had a cool head. I reffed with him, and it was great having him working with me. He was an upstanding model of what a referee should be for CYC sports.”
Neal, a De Smet Jesuit High School grad, said Warnecke encouraged younger referees, making sure they enjoyed officiating.
Neil Fischer, a St. John Vianney and St. Raphael graduate who was a year ahead of Warnecke, said naming the tournament after the former referee was a well-deserved honor because Warnecke “put pride in everything he did.”
He “always had a smile on his face. He was business-like but knew how to have fun,” Fischer said.
Warnecke’s mom, Mary Warnecke, said the tournament-naming shows St. Raphael is a caring community. “For a parent to be able to keep his memory alive is just amazing,” she said. “For them to do this and allow my family to be there for the kickoff of the tournament and for me to be at the ending is really comforting.”
The tournament promoted #LoganUp, which referred to Logan Warnecke as everyone’s friend and to do what’s right, be kind to others, be a good person. “He always tried to make everyone comfortable, knew when something bothered them” and was always there for people, his mom said.
We can learn from the example of Logan Warnecke, and it’s good to see that he and the other young referees care so much for their parish and its sports program. It’s also good to see the parish recognize the role of a referee and someone who was so dedicated to such an important role in youth sports.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.