SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — In the sports world, the men and women wearing black and white stripes don’t always get the respect and thanks they deserve. Now, one Siouxland reffing official is getting acknowledgment on this week’s Siouxland Stories.
Sioux City sports official Royce Ranninger said, “The first time I met Von we worked a game at East High School. I worked the JV. I was just coming up the ranks. Thant’s how I got to know him, and for the past 30 years, that’s where our livelihood was.”
Von Bornholtz was a ref that never asked for attention, but after learning of his recent passing after a long battle with cancer, KCAU 9’s Tim Seaman took the time to give him the limelight. Tim and Bornholtz’s good friend Royce Ranniger talked about Von. His career, and the long friendship the two had.
“We got to be great friends. One of the things that made him a great official and was recognized for was his listening skills,” said Ranninger.
Ranninger said that Von had the ability to relate with players and officials.
“It’s critical to have that relationship. He would always worry about other people,” Ranninger said.
Von and Royce worked together for over 30 years.
“We officiated 4 – 5 nights a week in basketball. You put that 4 – 5 nights in with the same person and you get to know them pretty well. Von has a special way of getting along with everyone. The coaches and athletes,” Ranninger explained.
Ranninger told KCAU 9 that being a successful officiator comes from having a relationship formed between yourself and those around you.
“You can’t be successful in officiating if you don’t have a relationship with the students, players, and the coaches. I think that’s so important in any profession you’re working with. Alywas never better than me or you,” Ranninger said.
Ranninger said that he learned of Von’s cancer on a ride back from the UNI-Dome and said that the ride was a quiet one.
“Now the switch flipped from being a partner on the court to partner in life. Von took that and said this isn’t going to beat me,” Ranninger said. “I’m better than this and I believe those setbacks, they didn’t let him deter. They provided the motivation for him to keep going.
“I remember the last basketball game he officiated. He called me in December of 2018 and said I’m not supposed to, but I want to work one more night,” Ranninger added.
Ranninger said that Von had asked to find a way for him to work that one last game.
“‘Can you figure out a way I can work the girl’s game at Kingsley and you guys do the boys?’ And I said that will work,” Ranninger shared.
Ranninger added that it was a great night.
Officiating brought Von the motivation to beat cancer, and he did for 17 years.
“He touched nearly every official in Siouxland Officials Association. We did a benefit and the crowd was huge. He touched them all and wanted them to get better,” said Ranninger. “He was never better than anyone else and that’s important. He touched them all. I think that caring for other people had an effect on others.”