Chris Nicholson is very good at what he does.
He’s spent the last 11 years as the athletics secretary for the Janesville School District. His attention to detail is impeccable.
Now he’ll get the chance to help the Big Eight Conference to flourish as the newly elected conference commissioner.
Nicholson replaces Eric Bertun, who spent 11 years on the job.
“It’s obviously more on my plate work-wise, but it’s a very rewarding opportunity that I’m really looking forward to,” Nicholson said. “I’ll probably slow down on my officiating duties, and because I’m due for a knee replacement, it’s for the best that I do.
“The Big Eight is one of the premier conferences in the state, and I’m grateful for the chance to be a part of it and to help our student/athletes enjoy the experience of high school sports at a high level.”
Nicholson’s primary job duties will be scheduling all athletic events for the Big Eight, including contracting all varsity officials, acting as secretary for all athletic director meetings and being in charge of all postseason all-conference selection meetings and awards presentations.
The Big Eight currently schedules all conference athletic events on a yearly basis under a random draw system.
Nicholson is holding off on getting too far ahead schedule-wise until he finds out in August where Sun Prairie East and the new Sun Prairie West will be placed in all sports for the 2022-23 calendar year.
“I don’t want to go back and reschedule everything if the WIAA makes a change and doesn’t put those two schools in the Big Eight for all sports besides football,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson knows the biggest challenge facing him in his new position is finding officials at the varsity level.
“There’s a shortage all across the board,” Nicholson said. “And it’s showing no signs of getting any better. We’ve got to find a way to get more men and women interested in becoming officials.
“We’ve got a system in place now for officials that is called ArbiterSports, where everything is done electronically. I know Madison, Middleton and Sun Prairie use that system now, but the problem is that if you work too many games and make over a certain amount of money, you get taxed, and many officials don’t want to have to deal with that form.
“I’ve always said that if you’re officiating for the dollars and cents, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”
Nicholson is quick to point out that all sports in the Big Eight for the 2021-22 calendar year will have a much different look and feel than the COVID-driven 2020-21 fall, winter and spring seasons.
“I really believe we’ll be back to status quo,” Nicholson said. “That means things will be back to normal.
“The kids missed out on so much that they deserve a full season of things being as close to normal as possible.”
Nicholson is not deserting his duties, either, as the Janesville School District athletics secretary. As organized as he is, juggling two jobs won’t be a concern.
For anyone interested in officiating or learning more about it, visit the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association website at www.wiaawi.org, or call Nicholson at his Janesville office at 608-743-5008.