Steve Thorpe, who has three decades of refereeing experience, has been named the NCAA coordinator of officials for women’s volleyball.
Thorpe, who will replace Anne Pufahl in the position, began officiating Division III women’s volleyball games in 1985. Later that decade, he started officiating Big Ten Conference matches.
Through the years, Thorpe was selected to work in six NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships, including being the referee for an NCAA regional final at Penn State in 2007.
Thorpe curtailed his on-court officiating the past four years, so he could be a “volleyball parent” and watch his daughter play in high school. He has remained active in volleyball officiating with USA Volleyball and served as a regional advisor for Pufahl.
“I got a good look at what the positon entailed and where I thought my strengths could fit into this position,” said Thorpe, who was inducted into the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials Hall of Fame in 2013.
Thorpe, who is a corporate pilot for a pharmaceutical company, also worked as the USA Volleyball rules interpreter from 2000 to 2013.
Thorpe’s started playing volleyball while he was attending high school in Jakarta, Indonesia, where his father worked as an executive for 3M. After graduating from high school in 1977, he attended North Dakota, where he played two years of junior varsity basketball before putting his athletic pursuits into the school’s club volleyball team.
When his team advanced to national tournaments, it had to designate a couple of players who were willing to officiate matches.
“I either volunteered or was ‘voluntold’ about being a referee,” Thorpe said. “I found that I liked it and had an aptitude for it. When I got into my mid-20s, a buddy told me that I could make a little money on the side being a referee.”
Besides his NCAA refereeing experience, Thorpe has officiated USA Volleyball national competitions since 1993 and refereed on the international level from 2001 to 2014. He believes the knowledge he has gained through the years will help him in his new role as the NCAA coordinator of officials for women’s volleyball.
“I spent 12 years working in the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials training program,” said Thorpe, who graduated from North Dakota with a degree in business administration, including a major in aviation administration. “I was one of the people who put together the clinics to train volleyball officials. I’ve had many role models and mentors through the years. The experiences I’ve had over the last 30 years have prepared me for this role.”
Pufahl will remain as the NCAA secretary-rules editor for women’s volleyball.