This Award is the most prestigious award presented by the Kentuckiana Football Officials Association. Originally named for the late Sam Gruneisen, one of the founders of the KFOA and one of the greatest officials ever to work in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Sam officiated in the old Fall Cities Football Officials Association 1944-1966. He was one of the best officials of the time.
Howard Turley officiated in the Kentuckiana Football Officials Association for twenty years, from 1971-1990. Howard came into the KFOA having been a great football player at the University of Louisville and quickly made his mark as one of the top umpires in the organization. In 1973, his third year, he was selected to be on a crew, selected fifth out of nineteen umpires. At 6’3” he was a gentle giant who controlled the middle of the field and earned the respect of all those associated with him. Howard was dedicated to the KFOA, serving on the Board of Directors for two years and as a mentor and role model to our younger officials.
He was a devoted Christian, husband and father, as well. In his job, he spent a life’s work counseling in the Juvenile Justice System, as well as in his personal life.
This award was created in 1992 in memory of his concern and love for all humanity as well as his distinguished service to the KFOA. It was presented, by position, to the officials who best emulated Howard’s work on the field.
In 1998 the award was revised and is now presented by the President of the KFOA to that member whom best exemplifies Howard’s dedication.
A 1968 graduate of Flaget School High, Mike Schmitt parlayed his dedication, discipline and burning desire as a prep and college football player into a budding career in officiating. A two-way starter as a senior, Mike earned all-state honors at tight end and helped lead Flaget to a state title while breaking Paul Horning’s extra point record as a place kicker. Mike went on to a record-setting kicking career at the University of Cincinnati, making 44 of 47 PATs and 15 of 21 field goal attempts while earning playing time at defensive end and tight end. It was at old Cardinal Stadium that Mike enjoyed his best moments in football. In the ’67 state championship game, he intercepted a lateral and raced 21 yards for a TD to seal Flaget’s 21-0 victory. In his college finale, Mike connected on a career long, 44-yd field goal late in the game as the Bearcats beat UL 19-16.
Mike started his career with the KFOA in 1975. He loved it from the start. He could not get enough officiating assignments! Mike moved quickly to a freshman and JV schedule in addition to his almost daily schedule of little league games. The lives of Mike and his beloved wife Barbara were tragically cut short by a drunken driver in 1976.
In 1977 the Kentuckiana Football Officials Association created the Mike Schmitt Rookie of the Year Award in his honor.
Mark (Veedy), began his officiating career in 1994 in his humble abode at that time — Key West, Florida. This was after he graduated from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. After conquering all that there was to conquer in Key West, Veedy returned home to Louisville and joined the KFOA in 1997. Mark was an official who strived to make a day better to all he touched. Mark was a mentor to players, coaches, and younger and older officials. Mark was always willing to jump in and help critique others, lend them a kind ear, and grant them a kind word of encouragement, always encouraging them to "keep working". Mark was always trying to better those around him by staying in the Rule Book and putting out plenty of trivia throughout the seasons and on playoff trips to get everyone in the right frame of mind for the game they were getting ready to work. There was no such thing as the "big game of the week", they were all the "big game of the week" to Mark.
Mark's excellence and zest for life didn't just exist inside the field of play. Mark was a Sunday school teacher, a loving father, and a devoted husband. Mark was a great community man, often volunteering to help a cause for the greater good. He participated in the local ALS Walks, Special Olympics' tournaments, and the Polar Plunge. He refereed charity football games throughout our community and was always up for a good Powder Puff game that could / would pop up at the last moment.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention that he was the Proud Lifetime Skipper of “The Queen" on Dale Hollow Lake.
Mark was taken very prematurely from a beautiful family and a grateful Association that dearly loved him and cherished the time that we could spend together with him.
Mark exemplifies the meaning of "Make A Difference" and that is how he lived his life.