51-year SAOA Veteran Official Arnold Pope hangs up the whistle

A man who has given 51 years of service to the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association is hanging up the whistle. Arnold Pope, a preacher in Roanoke Rapids, has decided to retire from the avocation of officiating after a 60 year career calling various games at the collegiate and high school levels. 

Pope got into officiating after serving as a volunteer football coach at William R. Davie High School. While coaching, Pope thought that the quality of officiating was not as good as it could be, so he decided to try and make a difference, believing the student-athletes deserved better. 

He was a preacher by trade, and known to be quick with a story or a joke, always having the best interest of his fellow officials and players at the forefront of his consciousness. In addition to officiating, he was a world champion weight lifter and competed in the Highland Games where he won several events.