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The Butler Did It

If not for a brief pre-game announcement before the Xaverian/Christ the King semifinal, when he received a smattering of applause and a small plaque, you would never know the Floral Park native was working his final game as a referee.After all, referees are the guys everyone loves to hate.But in the CHSAA, it's been a love-love relationship with McAleer. For 36 years he's worked the league's games. He started working freshman games in 1968 and worked his way up to varsity, refereeing nine city title games. He's made 10 times the money working games at North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, but it's the CHSAA games that had his heart."Part of the reason is that my daughter (Kerri) will be a senior in college, she's the captain of the volleyball team (at Merrimack College) and I want to see every game," McAleer said. "They put me in the CHSAA Hall of Fame two years ago and I just felt it's time. I think I have a pretty good reputation and I didn't want to hang on."McAleer went to Power Memorial, but wasn't good enough to play on its powerhouse basketball teams. A hoops junkie, McAleer started as a CYO coach for Sacred Heart in Glendale. He followed mentor Brad Tracy, who is currently the supervisor of officials for the MAAC conference, and donned the zebra stripes.McAleer worked his first CHSAA title game in 1978, with Tracy at his side."It was my first final and it was the most special because I got to work with my mentor, the game was at St. John's and it was sold out," McAleer said. "It was Mater Christi against Holy Cross and the game went into overtime. Mater Christi won after Holy Cross beat them twice during the season."He also remembers the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan final in 1984 between Bishop Loughlin and Archbishop Molloy when Mark Jackson's 37 points was only second best that day. Kenny Smith scored 42 and it's rumored that Dean Smith, who along with Bobby Knight was at a packed St. Francis Prep that night, convinced Smith to forget about Virginia and head to North Carolina.There have been a lot of other great games and a lot of great players. But what McAleer remembers most are the coaches. "I'll say this about all the coaches in that league, when the game is over, it's over. It's never personal," he said. "I never had to give out too many (technical fouls) to coaches. In college it's a business but here it's more of a family."One of McAleer's closest friends is former Holy Cross coach Jim Kerr, who floored him with laughter with one very memorable - and very unprintable - line several years ago."In all my years in the CHSAA, I never saw a kid complain about him," Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said. "He was always respected and appreciated. He has meant so much to the league, besides just being a great guy."Added Molloy coach Jack Curran: "He refereed a lot of our games, championship games. We'll miss him. He was always part of our league, part of the culture. I know that he helped cultivate a lot of young officials, helping to bring them along."McAleer was a New York City police officer for 23 years, including 15 in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant. But during the turbulent 1970s, he wasn't known as the enemy on those tough streets, he was known as "The Ref.""It was always my pleasure to work a game with Tim. He's been a quality official for many seasons," said fellow official David Walker, who also worked with McAleer Sunday. "He and I have been in the trenches many times together. I learned a lot about leadership from him, about understanding the dynamics of the game."McAleer, who is also the outgoing president of the College Basketball Officials Association, which has about 700 members who work from Vermont to the Carolinas, may have worked his last game as a referee but he won't go away.He is in his first year as the coordinator of basketball officiating for the ECAC, assigning referees in the NYCAC, Skyline and CUNY conferences as well as NYU, Pratt and Pace. "I'm still involved with the referee committee and I'm going to help train the young guys," McAleer said. "When you're involved for so long - 36 years - you can't just go away."Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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