BOSTON — George Demetriou didn't exactly choose officiating for himself. It's more accurate to say it was assigned to him.
Demetriou is a graduate of West Point, and West Point has a — in his words — "very comprehensive, mandatory intramural program." The first three years at the Academy are spent as members of the intramural teams. Cadets then spend their senior year as an official or a coach.
"So when I got to be a senior, they didn't ask me," Demetriou said on Tuesday morning. "They decided that I would be an official."
A PE instructor led the training for officials, and quickly tested his new crew.
"He had a bunch of guys run a play, and then he had the defender grab the quarterback and then they start boxing each other," Demetriou said. "And I went over there and I blew my whistle to stop them. Well, that's exactly what he wanted because that was his lesson on the inadvertent whistle.
"So, he suckered me."
Demetriou served in the Army for 23 years, but also became a full-time official when he was stationed at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs. Along the way, he evolved into an expert in his field and now has 25 years of experience as a football and baseball official, in addition to serving as CHSAA's rules interpreter for both sports.
Demetriou has also written books which delve into deeper understanding of the rules.
Wednesday night, Demetriou will be inducted into the National Federation of State High School Association's Hall of Fame along with 11 other athletes, coaches and administrators as part of the Class of 2014. He joined CHSAA's Hall of Fame in 2011.
"It kind of makes me somewhat uncomfortable," Demetriou said. "You know, I really don't think I deserve everything that comes with it."
But Demetriou may be about the only person who knows him — or knows of him — that feels that way.
"The first time that I had gotten an inkling that I was even in the ballpark for consideration was at a football clinic in Denver about three or four years ago," Demetriou said. "(CHSAA assistant commissioner) Tom (Robinson) got up and said something like, 'George has done more for you guys than the guys that they put in the Federation Hall of Fame.' I think he was coming to my defense because I was getting stuff from people at the meeting.
"That was the first time that I had heard that anybody would even think of me that way."
Robinson was reminded of the story on Tuesday.
"In reality, that's everybody's respect for him. He just knows his stuff. And he doesn't flaunt it," Robinson said. "So that statement (at the rules meeting) is obvious. He knows as much, or more, than any official in the Hall of Fame."
Added CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann: "He represents, in my mind, everything that's right about officiating. Rules knowledge, judgment. He teaches kids, he moves the sports forward. He knows why we play the game."
Demetriou's family, including his wife Joan and three kids — Ted, Julie and Gabe — will attend the induction ceremony on Wednesday night at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
"They're really impressed by it," Demetriou said. "I never thought they'd want to come, but they all wanted to come."
Officiating was, in a sense, picked for him at West Point. But Demetriou also had to choose to continue to purse it.
Asked why he did, Demetriou said, "That I can't explain. Especially in baseball — I mean I have days where I say to myself, 'Why am I out here listening to this?' Baseball is much more abusive to umpires than football is. I mean you hear some pretty stupid stuff."
So he has grown some thicker skin over the years.
"You have to," Demetriou said.
Ultimately, he stuck around the profession because of the level, and the kids.
"One of the things you continually have to fight is those that want to make high school baseball games like the Major Leagues," Demetriou said. "It's a different environment, there's different standards.
"The player is a teenager, and anybody that's had teenagers knows that they will do stupid things. You've got to understand that most of the time, there's no evil intent. It's commensurate with their age. And you have to be understanding. I mean you can't let them get away with everything, you have to draw a line, but you have to be a lot more understanding in the high school game than you would in a professional game or a college game."