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Former Braves' catcher speaks at officials summit

Staff Photo: John Bohn Bruce Benedict, former Atlanta Braves catcher and longtime referee, is the keynote speaker at the Georgia Athletic Officials Association's Officiate Georgia Day Summit at Gwinnett Center Saturday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Bruce Benedict, former Atlanta Braves catcher and longtime referee, is the keynote speaker at the Georgia Athletic Officials Association's Officiate Georgia Day Summit at Gwinnett Center Saturday.

DULUTH -- Bruce Benedict spent 12 seasons playing for the Atlanta Braves.

For the last 27 years, he's been officiating basketball, most recently on the college level for the Southeastern, Southland, Sun Belt and Atlantic Sun Conferences.

Benedict took time out to speak to hundreds of Georgia high school officials across multiple sports during the Officiate Georgia Day Summit at the Gwinnett Center on Saturday.

"My goal is to referee the perfect game," he told the crowd. "You know how many times I've done that? None. It will never happen, but it's my goal every game."

While Benedict admits he never saw himself being a basketball official, he said it's become a passion of his, and something he looks forward to doing every time he steps on the court.

"I like getting prepared to do a good job and then being able to say that I did it," he said.

Benedict's speech was a part of a summit that also included sport-specific breakout sessions, and how to get to and stay at the next level, something that many high school officials dream of doing one day.

The former Braves' catcher had a lot of advice for the auditorium full of officials to eventually get there as he gave them tips on things they should and shouldn't say to coaches.

"Never tell a coach you got it 100 percent right," he said. "Because, they're going to go back to the tape and see that you got it wrong. Then, how are they to trust you? Instead, say, 'It was a difficult play and I did the best I could.' Most will leave you alone after that."

Benedict also had some funny stories of things officials shouldn't say, noting that he made the mistake of doing so.

"I told a coach who was complaining to me, 'You worked with the team all week and didn't do a thing, so don't think I'll clean it up in 40 minutes,'" which got a roar from the crowd.

The main thing Benedict stressed to the officials was that, no matter what level they're officiating, that particular game is important to someone.

"You may have six games to officiate in one week, but that one game is important to the coaches, players and fans, and you should give it the respect it deserves. Never treat any game like it's not as important as another game you're officiating that week. Treat it as if it's the only game you will officiate that season."