Basketball official Dana Pearson selected for hall of fame honors

Dana Pearson of Cobden has been honored for his 37 years of officiating high school basketball.

Pearson will be inducted into the Illinois High School Officials Association Hall of Fame in Bloomington next April.

“It kind of caught me by surprise,” Pearson said. “It’s probably more special than anything I’ve ever achieved.”

Pearson said the award is special because coaches and his peers voted for his induction.

In his long tenure of work on the basketball court, the game that stands out for him is the 2010 Class 2A state championship overtime game between Robinson and Peoria Manual.

“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “It was fun being selected. I got to toss the ball up to begin the game.”

Pearson has had solid family backing throughout his officiating tenure.

“It takes a lot of sacrifices and a lot of family support,” said Pearson, noting his father, Bud, still attends his games.

Besides the 2010 state series, he has also officiated during the 2007 and 2008 state tournaments.

The basketball fans voicing their displeasure at his calls never have bothered Pearson.

“I told my wife, Rhonda, that they’re not yelling at me, but at the shirt,” he said.

Pearson said he credits two people who have been instrumental in his lengthy officiating career, Ken Blandford and Gene Dammerman.

Blandford, the mayor of Jonesboro and a former high school basketball official, helped Pearson when he first began officiating.

Dammerman, the retired Cobden High School athletics director and veteran Appleknockers boys’ basketball coach, helped Pearson with honing his officiating techniques.

Pearson, a retired prison guard with the Illinois Department of Corrections, is a former Cobden High School standout athlete in both basketball and baseball. He attended Murray State University on a baseball scholarship after high school.

Pearson has not completly retired from the working world though. He is the director of the Union County Emergency Service and Disaster Agencies.

Pearson, 56, said he has no immediate plans to retire from the basketball court.

“I’ll go as long as the old body gets up and down the floor,” he said. “I told Kenny Palmer I’m going after his record.”

Palmer, 72, a veteran area official, has been officiating for 52 years.

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