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Greg Gautreaux joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his career as a public servant in Lafayette’s Parks and Recreation Department and acclaimed NFL referee.
Greg dedicated his career in service to Lafayette’s Parks and Recreation department managing its athletic programs, therapeutic recreation, pools, and parks. He got his start as a referee as a student at Teurlings High School, class of 1972, which was the genesis of his lifelong love of officiating; he recently retired with 50 years of service in officiating and still serves as assignments secretary for the Lafayette Area Football Officials Association.
For sixteen years, he officiated high school football; Nelson Stokley and Gerald Broussard helped him break into college officiating. Greg served for 32 years as a college official and was an active NFL football official serving as a field judge. In 1998, he met an NFL scout who attended a Tulane-Rutgers game that Greg was officiating. Not long after, he got a letter inviting him to work NFL Europe games which he enjoyed for four years before being called up to serve for the NFL.
Greg’s career highlight was officiating at Super Bowl XLIII in the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. This is the pinnacle of achievement as referees earn the honor of working the Super Bowl by being the highest-rated official (in Greg’s situation, as a field judge) throughout the season. As Greg says, “You are expected to start out perfect and improve from there!” To qualify as an official at the conclusion of that season, Greg handled 2400 plays and only had two misses! Think about that!!
You have to stay in good health to have the privilege to work with the NFL. There can be many challenges when serving as an official. “I’d run four or five miles per day to stay in good shape. You usually run and walk up to six miles per game. The NFL makes sure the referees pass fitness tests before they are cleared for their year contract of service. 119 NFL referees work per season, rotating the crew as needed.
Greg’s home study holds a plethora of football memorabilia he has collected over his lifetime, as well as the memories he cherishes.
Greg is still an active proponent of a strong parks and recreation department in Lafayette. Our Parks and Recreation Department, which encompasses 28 city parks, is woefully underfunded, still being covered by a 1.92-mill recreation tax that was enacted in 1961 when Lafayette only had four parks. The millage brings in about $2 million per year. Compare this to Youngsville’s per capita collections for parks which is nearly 10 times Lafayette’s; Broussard collects more than 7 times on a per capita basis.
One of Greg’s favorite memories is being a key part of the genesis of disc golf in Lafayette. Five parks offer the program, which allows people to spend time having fun with very little investment in equipment. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, “Disc golf is played much like golf except, instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc. The sport was formalized in the 1970s and shares with golf the object of completing each hole in the fewest strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, fewest throws).”
We thank Greg Gautreaux for his lifelong dedication to making our park’s system the best it could be. And in closing, Greg noted there is a shortage of high school referees. Anyone interested in learning more should check out https://www.becomeareferee.com/louisiana/