North Carolina High School Athletic Association

2023-2024 Golden Whistle Merit Award Winners

Annually, the NCHSAA honors its top, long-serving officials with the Golden Whistle Merit Award. Criteria for the award include demonstrating leadership, performance, service, and training for the betterment of officiating, possessing officiating abilities emulated by fellow officials, being regarded as a person of integrity and character, and having a minimum of 10 years of experience as an active official.

Below are the 2023-2024 winners.

Don Johnson

Raleigh area official who excels in the sports of Football, Basketball, and Lacrosse.  He is a leader in the Triangle Officials Association and is known for his professionalism and calm in tense situations.  Regional Supervisors know they can count on Don to do whatever is needed to get games covered.  He mentors new officials, always gives his best, and strives to be a standard of excellence regardless of the level of the game assigned.  The respect he commands from coaches is indicative of how he is perceived as an official.  The ultimate “team player” in officiating and a tremendous representative of the officiating craft.

Steve Smith

Steve is the long-standing clinic leader in the Goldsboro area for the East Carolina Football Officials Association.  He is a mentor to many officials, not just in his area but across the state.  A tremendous advocate for rules knowledge and proper mechanics, Steve’s commitment to video production and review has positioned him as one of the most well-respected officials in the area.  His leadership in the East Carolina Football Officials Association comes from a deep-rooted commitment to officiating excellence and instruction.

Michael “Babe” Allen

Began his officiating career in Football, Basketball, and Baseball in 1988.  Has helped assign youth league games since the early 1990s and became the Eastern Plains Baseball Regional Supervisor in 1996.  Babe has officiated 5 State Championships in Baseball and 3 in Football and worked the NC/SC Shrine Bowl in 2018.  He has also had a State Championship assignment in Basketball and has worked over 17 Eastern and Western Regional finals in various sports. His honors continue by getting assigned to the 2016 National Junior College World Series.

Rob Berry

Rob’s efficiency in wrestling officiating is unquestioned, and his Regional Supervisor noted that he has never received a negative evaluation from a Coach on a match Rob has worked.  He is requested to work the NCHSAA Playoffs every year and has worked the State Championships over ten (10) times.  He has assumed a new role in the East Central Wrestling Officials Association as the trainer and mentor for all new officials. Rob has also been the top recruiter for new officials in the association.  Simply stated, Rob has earned the respect of wrestlers, coaches, and officials and is the perfect example for which the Golden Whistle Award stands.

Dave Crescenzo

Dave began his career as an NCHSAA wrestling official in 1987.  His excellence on the mat was instantly recognized by his peers, which led to him assuming a leadership role as the assigner in the Triangle area in 1997.  Dave has also been an outstanding Softball Umpire for the Triangle Association.  Dave was a “go-to” person for rules knowledge and NFHS interpretations. He served as an evaluator for the NCHSAA Wrestling State Championships for numerous years, and his officials represented the local association in Regional and State Championship competitions in an exemplary manner, year in and year out. Dave recently decided to step away from his assigning duties, which will be sorely missed, and return to his true love of officiating contests on the mat.