Give it up for the golden girl.
Hall of Famer and longtime official Helen Allen was honored in a pregame ceremony during last month's Nassau county finals at Adelphi. Allen was recognized for her contributions to lacrosse and field hockey and an outstanding officiating career, which she's continued. Allen performed the coin toss before each of three finals games and was presented a gift by the section coordinators each time.
A small, picayune detail that may be of interest in this: she's 90. Yep. That's a nonagenarian, if you're wondering.
“She may not sprint down the field anymore,” Section VIII coordinator Barbara Sellers said, “but she definitely covers the field, and pretty well. She knows the rules in and out and enforces them.”
Going back and forth the length of a football field is no easy task, even for the players. I know some 20-somethings who wouldn't be able to do it (cough – myself included – cough). For that alone, Allen should be commended.
She officiated a modified field hockey game in Nassau as recently as October and plans to do it again next year. Allen is currently running a lacrosse clinic for officials in the city, along with Rosalia Goia, who is in her 70s. Not to be outdone, Goia still competes in the Empire State Games senior bracket, Sellers said.
After graduating from Hunter College in 1941, Allen played for the New York Women's Lacrosse Association for 35 years, competing in national and international tournaments. The former high-scoring right attack was named to the U.S. team every year from 1950-60 and later served as the NYWLA president. Allen began her officiating career in 1945 and has reffed everything from high school games to international tournaments, and spent three years as chairperson of the U.S. Umpiring Committee. She's also on as many Hall's walls as Benjamin Moore. Allen has been inducted into the Hunter College Athletic Hall of Fame as a field hockey player, the Metropolitan Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Nassau County Field Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame. As well, Allen, who has a PHD in education, worked in the Elmont school district teaching phys. ed and health for 30 years and was assistant superintendent for 20 years.
With all that on her resume, a heap of other accomplishments and the admiration and adoration of just about everyone who knows her, Allen could easily kick back and set into a well-earned sedentary lifestyle.
She could, but that's not Helen Allen. In addition to the officiating work, she's an avid golfer.
“She inspires people just through her drive,” said Sellers, who herself has been involved in field hockey as a player, coach and coordinator for over 50 years. “Her passion for the sport and desire to help athletes, coaches and officials is never-ending... She's a true mentor.”
Peronsality-wise, Sellers said, Allen is “a riot” with quick wit and a sharp sense of humor.
“I don't know of anyone doing what she does at 90 years of age,” Sellers added.
In 2007, I wrote a feature for my college paper on Donald Landolphi (a member of the Baseball Coaches of America Hall of Fame) and was a bit surprised when he told me he was still officiating high school and college basketball games at 65. (As fate would have it, he reffed a basketball game at Roslyn in 2008, which was one of the first I covered for Newsday.) With all due respect to Don, I've got to give the advantage to Mrs. Allen here. She's earned a spot on the awe pedestal.
Here's to Helen!