Retired Maui judge and football referee honored with HSO Hall of Fame induction

The Hawaiʻi Sports Officials Hall of Fame announced six officials to be inducted to the Class of 2022:

  • Joseph Edward Cardoza (football)
  • Stan Ono (wrestling)
  • Creighton “Fuzzy” Richards (basketball)
  • Gary M. Shiraishi (softball)
  • Verneda Thomas (volleyball)
  • Michael A. Wong (soccer)

The six will be honored in an in-person ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 4 at the Ala Moana Hotel. 

“We are extremely excited to honor these six individuals for induction to the Hall of Fame,” said HSOHOF president Cal Evans. “These are the very best officials in the State of Hawaiʻi and we are privileged to honor them as part of our fifth class.”

More about the inductees:

Joseph Edward Cardoza: Among the greatest Maui football officials, his 43-year career is as prestigious as his career as Chief Judge of the Second Circuit of the State of Hawaiʻi. Cardoza worked both high school and college games and became the first neighbor island referee to work the HHSAA title game between Kahuku and Saint Louis. Highly respected and well organized, he was the leader and mentored many officials while staying humble to the game.

Stan Ono: Officiated 15 years at the youth level and 22 years at the high school level, Ono served on the Hawaiʻi Wrestling Officials Association as treasurer since 2002 and president since 2005. His leadership led to the merging of all officials into one association and developed a comprehensive evaluation program in selecting officials to work the state tournament. He was the 2018 NFHS wrestling official of the year.

Creighton “Fuzzy” Richards: As the son-in-law of 2018 HOF inductee Jimmy Aiona, Richards was a part of tremendous collection of officials working under the Hawaiʻi Basketball Officials Association that worked youth, military, high school and University of Hawaiʻi games. Among the first officials to be invited to the Western Athletic Conference and worked the prestigious Rainbow Classic and Armed Forces League.  Richards passed away in 2012.

Gary M. Shiraishi: Beginning in 1986 and throughout his 28-year career as a softball umpire, Shiraishi was well known as an ultimate professional, a dignified demeanor and ability to “get the call right.” For 18 years, he officiated women’s collegiate softball, working NCAA games in Division I, Division II and NAIA. Nationally, the Men’s Slow Pitch Industrial League and Super Slow Pitch, featured on ESPN, are recognized as the highest level of competition in the men’s slow pitch game.

Verneda Thomas: She began her officiating career in the mid-1970s working all levels of volleyball – from NAIA to NCAA Division I, USVBA and USA Volleyball. She attained her USA Volleyball National Referee certification in 1982 and officiated volleyball for nearly 40 years. She served as the Official’s Chairperson for USA Volleyball – Aloha Region, as an officer in the Aloha Region and she was an instructor and clinician at all levels. She retired as USA Volleyball National Referee and FIVB International Qualified Scorer before retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season. Thomas passed away in 2016.

Michael A. Wong: He began officiating soccer in 1989, starting with youth leagues and quickly moving up to work high school games. In 1993 he was named United States Soccer Federation’s State Referee Administrator for Hawaiʻi, responsible for the administration of the USSF Referee Program in Hawaiʻi until 2003. An active NCAA official, Mike was the first soccer referee in Hawaiʻi to certify as a National Referee with the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association in 1998. In 2004 he was selected to the crew for one of only two NCAA Division I post-season games ever played in Hawaiʻi. From 1996 to 2019, he served as Hawaiʻi’s NISOA Chapter Representative, responsible for training and assigning soccer referees for local collegiate matches including University of Hawaiʻi and Division II teams in the Pac-West Conference.

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