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For love of the game - Reffing tourney honor for brothers

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By Mercy Lopez

As state basketball tournaments begin this weekend, all eyes will be on the players who have the honor of duking it out for a trophy and the bragging rights that come with it. But it’s also a big deal for the officials calling the games, including the Vigil brothers, who got their start in Las Vegas.

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Carl Vigil Jr. has been selected to officiate next week’s state basketball championship tournament in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. His younger brother, Curtis, will be calling basketball games this weekend as well. Curtis has also officiated college level games.

For the Vigil brothers, reffing basketball games has been a way for them to remain involved in a sport that they love. For Carl, being asked to officiate at next week’s championship tournament was a huge honor.

“I got the call, and it was a very happy moment in my life,” said Carl, a registered referee for roughly eight years. “This is a big accomplishment.”

He said the goal for many officials in the state is to make the calls during the intense statewide tournament — where only the best of the best compete for a championship.

“It is very exciting. I have been working hard to get to this level,” Carl said. “Over this summer I attended a camp where I received feedback from college officials. That helped me a lot this year as far as calling.”

Curtis has previously officiated New Mexico Lobos exhibition basketball games.

“I’ve really excelled here in the Albuquerque region. One of the biggest games I’ve called this year at the high school level was the Eldorado High School versus La Cueva game, which was in a sold-out gym,” Curtis said.

The brothers also officiated the annual Stu Clark tournament in late December.

The Vigils began officiating several years ago as a way of remaining involved in the game their parents Carl Sr. and Diane taught them to love from the time they were boys.  

The brothers were star athletes in several sports at Robertson High School along with other family members hailing from the Flavio Vigil family. Flavio Vigil was the brothers’ grandfather.

Carl Sr. said the Vigil family legacy in Cardinal sports continues even to this day.

“My sons have always been very competitive since they were young,” Carl Sr. said. “They were always playing sports together and they joined officiating together.”

The brothers take their job on the court very seriously. They attend seminars, workshops, and clinics throughout the western states to improve their officiating.

“I always told them if they were going to join something to always put 100 percent,” Carl Sr. said. “I always told them not to be quitters, go in there and to do their best.”

Being on the road several evenings a week is no easy task for the Vigil brothers.

Fortunately, they have supportive families who allow them to continue their passion on the court.

“My wife, Robin, is a huge support,” said Curtis, during a telephone interview from his home in Rio Rancho. “She stays home with our two boys, Javen and Ajay, while I’m out on the road. She is the backbone on what I am doing by officiating,”

Carl Jr. agrees that family support is critical.

“What keeps me going through officiating is my continued family support,” he said. “My fiancée, Tasha Rae, wants me to pursue officiating. My mother Diane watches my kids during my crazy busy workweek that includes many evenings on the road. My father Carl makes the road trips with me. My sisters Kimberly and Amarie love to watch me officiate the games.”

The Vigil brothers both graduated from Highlands. Carl Jr. works at Luna Community College’s Wellness Center. Curtis is an accountant at UNM.

The brothers said they originally started officiating as a way to make extra money and to spend time with their friends.

Being whistle-blowers, however, is no easy task as coaches, players and fans often criticize and question calls.

“My life is always around sports,” said Carl Jr., an assistant baseball coach of the Luna Community College Roughriders. “I am constantly on the go.”

The extra money that officiating brings in is a plus for the brothers.

“I love doing every little thing I can for my son Evan and daughter Jade. In fact, I have both of their names on my officiating shoes as one of my reminders to keep working hard so my family can live ‘the life.’”

The Santa Ana Star Center and the UNM Pit will likely be packed as Carl Jr. suits up in his black slacks, black and white vertically striped shirt and whistle an walks out to officiate the biggest games in the state.

Curtis, meanwhile, will call two games this weekend including the Melrose versus Springer girls game tonight in Melrose. It will be the first round of the state tournaments.

“My brother Curtis and I push each other to bigger and better things,” Carl Jr. said.