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Area touch at Maui Invitational

| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006

For the past 42 years, Monessen's Ron Tyburski has spent Thanksgiving Day at home with his parents.

That won't be the case in 2006.

Tyburski had to break tradition when he was named one of the 12 officials to work the prestigious 23rd annual Maui Invitational, which starts Monday.

Joining host Chaminade University in the eight-team field for the three-day event will be No. 6 UCLA, No. 14 Memphis, No. 22 Kentucky, No. 23 Georgia Tech, DePaul, Oklahoma and Purdue.

"I got the call in May from Hank Nichols (NCAA national coordinator of men's basketball officials)," said Tyburski. "I won't know what games I'll have until our meeting Sunday night. I'll be combining business with pleasure."

"This is basically our honeymoon," continued Tyburski, who married assistant Westmoreland district attorney Rebecca Calisti in July. "We were going to go to Italy, but the Maui call changed our plans."

Tyburski has come a long way as an official from his days at the Monessen armory in the mid-1980s when he was working midget league games for free.

"My uncle, Walt Malinchak, (a deceased major college football official) told me I was pretty good, so I took my test in 1987," he recalled.

In his third year as a ref, Tyburski landed a full varsity schedule and was good enough to work two PIAA championships and six WPIAL finals.

Besides basketball, Tyburski officiated Quad A football games for 10 years and did high school and college baseball.

"Basketball has always been my favorite sport and it's also the only climate- control sport," he smiled.

Tyburski moved up to the NCAA Division I basketball ranks when he was hired by the Northeast Conference and a year later was added to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Today, Tyburski works seven major conferences including the Big East, Atlantic 10, Colonial, Northeast, Metro Atlantic, Ivy and Patriot.

Last year he was in South Carolina and Nebraska for the first two rounds of the post-season NIT tourney.

Tyburski is facing another busy winter with 58 Division 1 games over the next four months.

"The worst part is the weather, especially when you're trying to catch the first flight out," he said. "You never know about flight delays if it's not a non-stop flight."

"Just to be where I'm at is a blessing," added Tyburski. "Every game to me is big."

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