ILLPOLO SITE ARCHIVES2009 SEASON - 2008 Season - 2007 Season - 2006 Season - 2005 Season - 2004 Season - 2003 SeasonContact Us



DONATE depends on donations in order to keep the site operating efficiently.


How to donate › 

















>> More Categories





>> Illpolo Site Map



Speedo Cup
>> More Categories


2007 Season Videos
2006 Season Videos
>> More Categories


Environmental Monitoring &

Technologies, Inc.

Contact Realtor

Daniel Hengelmann

for more information


Register online for the Elkhart Lake Triathlon in June at Elkhart Lake, WI.






Editor's note: Chris Fetterman is the boys' water polo coach at Hoffman Estates High School and a journalism major at Roosevelt University. He will be contributing articles and assisting in the running of for the 2009 season.

ENTRY #3 - "Everybody Loves To Hate Refs"

An Interview With Perry Korbakis

by Chris Fetterman



Everybody loves to hate a referee (except for me, of course). What drives a person to yell, scream, throw objects, and even spit (yes, spit) on a ref? 

Now, when a ref makes a bad call, we instantly assume that the ref is just plain unaware and should be doing anything other than what he or she is trying so hard to do correctly. What we forget most often, and I assure you, I am as guilty as the next coach or fan, is that when a ref makes a “bad call” he or she probably knows what they did wrong and the last thing they need is to hear about it from all angles. 

The question I pondered is "What is it like to be a referee?" At first, I wanted to spend an entire day as a ref myself; walk around in my “whites,” you know really get into it, see what our referees see… but I couldn’t find any white jeans that fit me. Instead, I turned to the head official for Illinois Water Polo, Perry Korbakis.


(Perry Korbakis, of Oak Park, is the assigning chair for the IHSA, as well as rule interpreter, clinician and on top of that, he is an electrician by day.  Perry has been a part of Illinois water polo since the 1980’s when water polo was at the top of its game.  Perry is well respected throughout United States Water Polo and has refereed in such places as Hawaii, New York, North Carolina and California (the Mecca of USWP). 

Let's see if we can get a better idea of what it's like to be a referee after talking with Perry:



Thank you for being here, I have a million and one questions for you, but before we get into the good stuff, I would like to know a little bit about you outside of the pool, what can you give me? 

There really isn’t much outside of the pool.  I am an electrician and a huge hockey fan. Through the good times and bad...Blackhawks baby!!! 

Interview over, I am a Red Wings guy. Nice talking to you… (laughter ensues)


Ok, what is the funniest thing you can remember in your nearly 30 years of experience? 

There are so many things I can tell you, Chris. I have fallen in the pool while reffing, I have seen other refs fall in the pool. That is always extremely funny. If you remember Bill Dolehide, he fell in, that was a classic.  Way back when refs used the kick-out flags by hand, I remember specifically at Mt. Carmel High School, Tom Nelson being hit in the crotch by the butt-end of the flag-stick. That is my funniest memory. 

I'm laughing just thinking about that… I always have wondered what it would be like to be a ref.  Is it as bad as I think it is? Can you remember the worst thing you have ever gone through? I once refereed for age group water polo and I was nearly run out of the building.  It was probably the funniest thing that has ever happened to me in this game.  It was a 12 & Under game and the parents were ready to read me the riot-act.  

I have had balls thrown at me. I have been spit on… 

Spit on, are you kidding me?? 

Oh yeah, Chris. Back in the 80’s, this game was crazy. I have been through the ringer in this sport. But it has gotten a lot better. 

Better from the 80’s, or just in general? 

In general. The fans are a lot better.   

Who would you say are worse, the fans, coaches or the players? 

Without a doubt, the fans. It is a part of the game. I have no problem with constructive criticism. When people get personal, that's what I have a major problem with. But all of that stems from the coach, down to the parents, and then to the players.  I used to ref in a place we called “The Pit,” and the fans were literally on top of you. It was fun, but intense.   

Where was the coolest place you have ever refereed? (Minus Hawaii, of course) 

Leo High School and Mt. Carmel were classic places to ref.  I wish everyone had a chance to ref at those pools.  They were so small that the columns they had around the pool deck interfered so much we had to walk around them during game-play. That was always fun. 

Having been around since the early 1980’s, what has changed that you might not have liked, and what would you change, if anything, about the game today? 

They change the rules annually, I don’t like that.  If they changed the rules every four years then I think that would be better. The 35 second shot clock was changed for no reason. The college shot clock is still at 35, you’re trying to tell me that high school players can run an offense faster than college players? That needed to stay at 35 seconds.  

You have been around some really great people in this game.  Where did all of this begin? We are a true IHSA sport now, isn’t that amazing? 

Yes, we think being an IHSA sport is so much better than being ISA.  People like Dave Perry, Rick Marsh, Jim “Moose” Mulchrone, (the late) Ike Marshall, and Jim Lock really are to thank for our progress from top to bottom.  Dave (Perry) started the state banquet.  We would not be as far as we are without those guys.  

Wow, those are some really big names.  I’m sure there are even more to thank as well… You said that the fans are better than they were in the 1980’s, do you think that is connected to IHSA, rather than ISA? 

We pushed for the change. The game is more fan friendly now. 

What, off the top of your head, was the greatest game you had the chance to ref? 

Any of the state championship games, Chris.  They are always great games. The very first state championship game comes to mind though. That was between Fenwick and Brother Rice. They always made for the best games. 

Ok Perry, how many more years do you have left with the IHSA? 

I think I have about 5 more years left in me.  I have a few people I am “grooming,” but they aren’t ready yet.  

Wow, well thank you very much for sitting down with me, good luck this season and I hope it goes well… I hope no one spits on you.


As far as I can tell, Perry Korbakis is about as human as they come.  He is also one of the "good guys" I referred to last week. How on earth could anyone spit on another human being for making a bad call?


Ladies and Gentlemen of this fine game, I implore you; enough is enough with the obnoxious-ness of our fans. We as fans of this game-as coaches of this game-and as players of this game, need to lay down our pitch forks and torches and learn how to use a smile and a hand shake instead. Begin treating our referees with the respect they deserve, with dignity, and allow them to be human.  I am not saying we should have treats to give them, but patting them on the back should be common practice by now.  After all, it is only human to make a mistake or a “bad call” every once in a while.


And, oh yeah, it's time for the season to start so...see you 'Poolside' this week!




Find out the latest info >


2006 State Tournament

St Ignatius Wins Semifinal

Latin vs Lyons Semifinal

State Consolation Games

Fenwick Boys Win State

Fenwick Girls Win State


Other 2006 Videos

Boys Quarterfinal Recaps

Girls Quarterfinal Recaps


The Goalies: Volume I

The Goalies: Volume II


< Complete Video Index > 

. - Celebrating 7 Years Online!

Home - Club Center - College Page - Illpolo TV - Archives - Links - Contacts
About Us - About the Site - Reporters - Terms of Service - Copyright - Credits


© Copyright 2009 - Illpolo Web Design, All Rights Reserved
Privacy StatementAdvertise