Director of Dining Services
Stu Orefice loves basketball almost as much as he loves foodservice. Through his career in college foodservice he has found a way to satisfy both loves, by running the clock and scoreboard at basketball games for the institutions at which he’s worked. Orefice talks about the thrill and the stress of this volunteer position.
“I’ve always liked basketball. I played and I was fairly decent. In my senior year of high school, at Tuckahoe High School in Westchester County, N.Y., I was actually a student assistant coach, the first in the school’s history. I continued to enjoy the sport when I went to college, and when I came home on breaks I would always run the scoreboard at my old high school.
Career: 10 years in dining services at Cornell University; 13 years as Dining Services director at Princeton
Hometown: Eastchester, N.Y.
Education: Graduate of Cornell University
When I was in my senior year at Cornell, they needed someone to run the scoreboard for the home games, so I did it. A couple of years after graduation, after I took a hiatus in New York, I was working at Cornell and I became very friendly with the basketball coach. He asked me to do the book and the scoreboard during the games. I did that at Cornell for about seven years. When I came to Princeton, I knew the coaches through my relationship with the Cornell coaches. At one game I noticed that there was one student running back and forth, pouring water for the guys then running back and doing the scoreboard. So I went up to the coach and said, ‘Are you shorthanded?’ He said, ‘Yes, we don’t have anyone to run the scoreboard.’ I said, ‘Well, gee, I did it at Cornell for seven years, why don’t I do it here?’
The first game that I had to do the scoreboard at Princeton was Cornell-Princeton. It was probably the slowest-scored game in Ivy League history because I [kept forgetting] who was the home team, after being at Cornell for seven years. But I’ve been doing it for 13 years here and it has been a very enjoyable part of my life.
Given my position in foodservice, I don’t get an opportunity to coach, so it still keeps me in the game and keeps me current. And because I do this as a volunteer effort I feel as though I’m giving back to the community as well as providing a release from my day-to-day work in foodservice.
The most difficult part of working the scoreboard is toward the end of [a close] game, when there’s less than a minute to go and everyone is standing up around you and you’re trying to get a good sight line for the game. It’s hard to concentrate because people are screaming. You have to stay focused and quite often, the folks will see me standing up just so I can get a good view. The other difficult part is before the TV time-outs, because you have to remind the officials. That can be stressful, especially when the referee ignores you. You’re sitting at the table waving your arms, holding up a T, and they miss you, and that can be frustrating because then you have to wait for the next time out.
When you put up points for the wrong team, [everyone] is up, screaming at you. It’s an honest mistake.
Regardless of whether I put it up incorrectly, the book is the most important thing at the table. Everybody knows which team scored the basket and so if I put it up incorrectly it doesn’t affect the game.
My worst experience was one game at Cornell, where there were five seconds to go and we were trailing. I thought that as soon as we passed the ball in they were just going to run up and shoot the ball. Well, as it turns out, they passed the ball in and the coach calls a time out at half court. I had flipped the switch to start the clock and I had my hand resting on my head thinking, the game is over. I had to take my hand off my head and hit the button quickly, and the team probably lost about a half a second. It makes it very difficult when you’re very good friends with the coach and with a lot of the players. You feel that you really hurt the team. As it turned out, we hit the shot and won the game, but for that fleeting moment I felt personally responsible.”