Hamilton council president Ed Gore works as a track official, checking in pole vault athletes during a meet in late May. (Staff photo by Samantha Sciarrotta.)

Council president Ed Gore makes the calls

Ed Gore has served on the Hamilton Township Board of Education, has been on township council since April 2010 and is one of four Republican incumbents running for re-election to council in November.

But long before the council president involved himself in the political arena, he devoted his time to another form of competition: athletics.

In fact, athletics have meant so much to Gore—a former football player at St. Anthony’s High School—that he couldn’t bring himself to quit sports once his playing days ended. Gore, as a college student, decided the best way to stay involved would be to umpire some little league baseball games. Then, after he graduated from St. Joseph’s University, he added in duties as a football official.

Now, decades later, the 60-year-old Gore has established himself as a local mainstay in several sports. He has served as a football official for 30 years, a track and field official for 15 and an off-ice official—keeping statistics and maintaining order in the penalty box—in the ECHL minor league hockey league for a decade. At track meets, he specializes in the pole vault. He no longer umpires baseball.

The hobby keeps his calendar full from late August to mid-June, and demands he somehow split his attention between sports games, his full-time job as an attorney with his own law firm, the duties of a council member and his obligations to his wife, Deborah, and children Kristin, 28, Kellie, 27, and Edward, 25.

“My reason for doing it is because I enjoy sports,” Gore said. “I enjoyed being an athlete. It gives me a chance to keep my hand in it. And you meet a lot of nice people. You can give something back to the games that you enjoyed playing.”

Gore said he has to stretch sometimes to maintain the jam-packed schedule that could include a weekday football officials’ meeting, a township council meeting and three football games in a week. But he has managed everything so far, even if his multiple obligations still run up against one another occasionally.

The most prominent example occurred late last November, when Gore was deep into the high school football playoff season at the same time he found himself as a member of the body voting to fill the mayoral vacancy created by John Bencivengo’s resignation. Gore also was one of three candidates to step forward to run for the mayor’s office, further complicating matters.

During a Nov. 30 council meeting—a four-hour gathering that eventually appointed Kelly Yaede as mayor—Gore asked to expedite the process because he had a football game to officiate that evening, and his time to get there was running short.

But, for the most part, Gore said he handles the hectic schedule OK, and it practically has become second nature.

Gore has so devoted himself to officiating that the rules and regulations of football also are second nature to him. Hamilton resident Al Verdel served on a football officiating crew with Gore for 10 years, and said he and Gore regularly would challenge each other on rules.

“I thought he was a fair referee,” Verdel said. “We had a friendly rivalry in terms of our interpretation of the rules. He was studious. We always tested each other. Ed keeps up with the rules pretty well, so he’s a worthy opponent, so to speak.”

The two helped each other out on and off the field, though. When Verdel won a referee of the year honor several years ago, Gore introduced him at the awards dinner.

“He was always on hand to help or answer any questions and always had the players’ best intentions in mind,” Verdel said.

Last fall, Gore found out the painful way that sometimes the players aren’t looking out for him, though. Two athletes engaged in a block during the second quarter of a game at New Egypt High School knocked into Gore from behind, sending him to the turf and tearing his meniscus.

Even though he hurt his knee before the game’s midway point and the joint continued to swell, Gore finished the game.

Afterwards, he thought to himself, “I’ll never do that again.”

“After the game, I was walking very gingerly off the field,” Gore said. “That was not one of my brighter moments.”

While Gore may not push himself through injury again, there isn’t much that will keep him from maintaining his relationship with local athletics. Gore even makes it a point to officiate at least one youth football game a season. It may mean he has to work three or four games in one weekend, but Gore said it’s worth the effort.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Gore said. “At the level I’m doing it, you don’t get rich. I’ve met a lot of nice athletes, a lot of nice coaches. Some people think officials just get hollered at, but I’ve experienced so many students, parents and coaches that have wished me well … It always warms my heart.”