Chris Bunel making a basketball impact

A scan of Chris Bunel’s achievements and it quickly occurs to you that he walks hand-in-hand with success. Starting point guard for back-to-back Gilbert School basketball state titles in 1998 and 1999. Top-notch high school basketball referee for two decades.  Quality sixth grade teacher at Thompson Brook School in Avon.

There’s more but you get the idea. It’s not about being there, it’s about being there and making an impact. It’s not just about doing. It’s about doing well.  Bunel has never been satisfied going along for the ride, he flourishes by creating the ride.

Bunel was recently selected to become the new President of the State Board of Officials which includes regional boards, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 35 which encompass the entire state. The new duties follow up a 17-year career on the floor officiating games, a tenure that includes three state finals (2017-2019), and the last three years as the Officials Director for Board 7 (Litchfield County).

Bunel’s duties will include conducting three meetings a year in Jan., Oct. and Mar./ April, and dealing with the every basketball issue with the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference).

“I am more like a Prime Minister, not a decision maker,” Bunel said. “I will help put together an agenda and have a point person for dealings with the CIAC. I will be very much delegating authority.”

While there has been much discussion of the implementation of the shot clock for the upcoming season, the biggest issue the Board of Officials is dealing with concerns its relationship with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) headed by former CIAC Director Karissa Niehoff.

“The biggest change is a new fee incurred to be a member of the NFHS,” Bunel explained.  “All of our training camps are from IAABO (International Association of Approved Basketball Officials), not the National Federation. We have to deal with the increased costs. We have a great relationship with IAABO and the CIAC. A lot of other organizations in the state are associated with the NFHS.”

Bunel’s rise to the top of the state board was never part of the game plan more of just another step in his evolving role in the officiating world.

“When I started an as on official there was no end game. Actually in the beginning I wanted to coach basketball,” Bunel said. “I started reffing for a couple of bucks and enjoyed it. It’ been a lifelong experience in Litchfield County gyms and it’s never been a burden.

“I started getting tournament games and said let’s see what I can do with this. Eventually I said if given the opportunity to go upstairs and be part of the executive board I would.

Bunel’s quality work on the floor and the way he handled himself was noticed and he was approached by long-time official Mark Scozzafava who cemented the idea of `moving upstairs’ in his mind.

Bunel agreed but with a firm idea of where he wanted to take his new role.

“I said I will listen and learn but I want to have a voice,” Bunel said. “I don’t want to be a paper tiger. I want to advocate for all officials not just tournament officials. If my time can be used to effect change I will do it on a state level.”

In 2019 Bunel became the Officials Director for Board 7 involving himself in recruitment, training, mentoring and working with officials on different tactics of training so they would improve. He is going through the chairs of serving on the Board which include second vice president, first president and President.  He continues to hone his craft.

“So much happens behind the scenes,” Bunel said. “People don’t understand it. I didn’t. I bitched when I first started. Now I understand and can explain things. I want people to see their place and that they can move up.”

Long-time veteran official Bob Ferrarotti has known Bunel since his playing days and has officiated with him and been a mentor.  He also in many ways sees this as a natural progression. He is a fan.

“Chris has only been doing this for a month and I have already had more people call me and tell me what a great job he is doing,” Ferrarotti said. “He is a great official and I have nothing but great respect for this guy. He’ll call me and I will give him advice and when I have questions I call him.

He has contacted every fellow official and I am so impressed. It is unbelievable.  I have never met a more efficient guy. We met for a state board meeting and one guy came in two minutes late. Chris called him on it. That’s who he is.”

They call that being an impact player. They call him Chris Bunel.

Share this post

Scroll to Top