Harwich’s Bill Doherty Honored By Cape Cod Football Officials Association
For 50 years, Bill Doherty dedicated his time and energy to officiating sports. The longtime Harwich resident will always be remembered for his service thanks in large part to a sportsmanship award that was recently named in his honor.
During its annual end-of-season banquet recently, the Cape Cod Football Officials Association announced that its sportsmanship award will be known as the Bill Doherty Sportsmanship Award going forward.
“It was a total surprise,” said Doherty. “It’s very heartwarming. I felt very honored that they would do something like that.”
Doherty began officiating basketball in 1966 then progressed to football around 1970. He umpired Cape Cod Baseball League games for three summers in the 1970s, and continued to officiate local football and baseball — as well as some soccer and women’s lacrosse — throughout the decades that followed.
“I was 81 or 82 when I started slowing down,” said the 86-year-old Doherty, a retired teacher who stopped officiating full time about three years ago.
Cape and Islands football officiating commissioner Jim Butcher said it was special to have the opportunity to celebrate all that Doherty has done for the region’s sports landscape.
“We had given this award and didn’t really do much about it, we had just kind of invited the athletic director and the coach,” Butcher said. “We felt it would be better if we not only honored the winning school but honored one of the main parts of our board, and Bill was a huge part of the board as a mentor and as a referee.”
Butcher added that it was an easy choice to honor Doherty, who Butcher still calls upon to time games on occasion.
“We couldn’t think of a better person than Bill,” Butcher said. “Having this award named for him was an easy choice. It wasn’t even a question of bringing up another name — it was just Bill.”
Although Doherty and Butcher are bound together by their years of devotion to high school sports on the Cape, Butcher said many of his memories of officiating alongside Doherty came at the collegiate level.
Doherty was a very respected college football official who spent approximately three decades refereeing Division II and Division III football games.
“What I remember most about Bill was working college games with him, and he would put everyone else at ease,” Butcher said. “The officials, the coaches — Bill just had a great way about him of having people relax around him. And he’d make the game fun.
“That was the biggest thing about Bill. He wanted to do it right, but he wanted to make the game an enjoyable experience as well.”
This year’s sportsmanship award was given to Falmouth and its head coach Tim Medeiros, who Butcher described as “a total class act.”
While the Clippers will celebrate the sportsmanship they displayed this fall, the CCFOA’s award will forever honor Doherty, who has dedicated so much of his life to creating an enjoyable experience for athletes throughout the Cape.
“I did it mostly for enjoyment,” Doherty said. “I enjoyed being with young people and enjoyed the sports.”
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