Remembering Sean Cashman

Longtime Central Oregon sports official served kids

By Grant Lucas / The Bulletin / @Grant_Lucas88


Published Jan 21, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Jan 21, 2014 at 06:39AM

Game of the week

Of the 73 girls who finished the Teacup Skadi Cup at Mount Hood on Saturday, Summit skiers claimed the top seven spots in the Oregon High School Nordic event. Emily Hyde took top honors in the 5,000-meter race, and the Storm swept the next six places on their way to six points and the team crown.

Player of the week

Michael Belmontes poured in a game-high 27 points to go along with six rebounds on Friday night, helping Redmond High log its first boys basketball win of the season, a 78-74 Intermountain Hybrid decision over visiting Crook County.

Stat of the week

Nine. Culver picked up its ninth straight Oregon Wrestling Classic championship on Saturday night. The Bulldogs defeated reigning Class 2A/1A state champion Lowell 54-21 at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond to complete an undefeated run at the two-day tournament, capped by the 2A/1A title.

Within the Central Oregon Football Officials Association, they like to say that officials are the calm in the storm.

And as COFOA commissioner Tim Huntley will tell you, Sean Cashman was the “poster boy” for that saying.

On Monday of last week, the 58-year-old Cashman, a 10-year basketball and football official in Central Oregon, died after going into cardiac arrest the week before, leaving behind his wife of nearly 30 years, Ladell, and their son, Brian, and daughter, Shanna.

But Cashman’s passion for sports, and for officiating, still resonates in his hometown of Bend.

“When people put in their time to officiate, you’re not doing it to get rich,” says Sean’s brother Terry Cashman, the youngest of five brothers and the “Little Cashman” to Sean’s “Big Cashman.” “If you are (in it to get rich), you won’t. It’s a way of giving back to something that’s important to you.

“Sean saw sports as a place where kids learn life lessons,” Terry Cashman, 53, continues. “Although there’s always someone that’s going to win and someone that’s going to lose, either way, the opportunity is there to be able to compete and work hard and see those results, and as an official you got to be a part of that. It’s really an honor to be able to be out there and officiate games and see kids grow.”

Born and raised in Bend and a Bend High School alum — all five Cashman brothers played sports at Bend High; Terry graduated from Mountain View High — Sean, along with Terry, began officiating because, as Terry puts it, “We were going, ‘If we think it’s so easy, maybe we should try it.’ ”

Their decision led to 10 years of service, from officiating Central Oregon Basketball Organization youth games to high school contests. It led to the Cashman duo teaming up for hundreds of games, by Terry’s estimation, including a Class 4A first-round state playoff game last season at Ridgeview High in Redmond.

Last year, Sean received the Jason Freiboth Commitment to Excellence Award from the COBOA, presented to officials who best display perseverance, commitment to excellence, leadership, involvement in the community and with youth, and a positive attitude.

Sean Cashman nailed all five criteria.

“He had a lot of roots in the community,” says Bob Reichert, commissioner of the Central Oregon Basketball Officials Association. “He was well-respected as somebody you’d like to sit and visit with it. He probably had one of the best senses of humor I had ever had contact with. Even in a negative atmosphere, he would always have something positive to say.”

Four years ago, Cashman came down with a life-threatening illness. (Terry describes it as a “fungus that attacked his body.”) He was hospitalized for three months and was in a coma for much of that time.

And yet Sean returned, “with a vengeance,” according to Huntley. Big Cashman — so nicknamed for his full 6-foot-6-inch frame — made it back to the basketball court and football field to resume his role as an official, leading to a board member position within COBOA for him this season.

In every task Cashman took on, he went all in. He and Terry would attend officiating camps. They would attend games to study other officials’ positions on the court or field and learn their mechanics. He was committed to excellence, and it grew into a passion.

“It wasn’t a power deal with him,” Huntley says of Cashman’s fondness for officiating. “It was, ‘I’m doing this as a service that I love to do.’ And he just loved to officiate.”

And, Terry adds, Sean Cashman loved kids.

In 2010, he became a building engineer at Bend’s Ensworth Elementary School, which Terry describes as “one of our higher-needs schools” in the Bend-La Pine School District. Every day, Terry says, his brother worked with kids from less-affluent backgrounds.

Between Cashman’s service with the elementary school and his time on the basketball court and football field, deciding how to honor him was simple.

Through Christian Life Center, a fund has been established in Cashman’s name: Kids For Sports.

Donations to the fund will go to area youngsters who need financial help to attend camps or activities, or who need equipment to participate in athletics.

A fitting tribute, as was the gathering of 500 or so who packed into Christian Life Center for Cashman’s memorial service on Saturday.

“Sean and kids just kind of go together,” says Huntley, whose officials’ organization will make a donation to the fund in honor of its fallen member. “If you came up through youth sports in Bend in either football or basketball, you knew Sean Cashman. Somewhere along the line, he was going to officiate one of your games or you were waiting to play and he was officiating the game before you.”

“He loved sports. He loved kids,” Terry Cashman says. “And if you can give back to the things you’re passionate about, even in your passing … what better way to honor him?”

“Life is a journey,” Little Cashman continues. “To be able to be on that journey with my brother through sports and officiating is a gift.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0307, glucas@bendbulletin.com.