Georgia lacrosse referee eyes retirement from the sport he loves

Many of us have faced this difficult question before: When should I give up the thing I love?

Louie Diaz is there now. A Long Island transplant and Delta Air Lines retiree living in Marietta, he is about to turn 73 next month after officiating lacrosse — and basketball, football and soccer — for more than four decades. That’s more than twice the ages of most of the athletes he referees.

Deciding when to hang up the stripes is particularly fraught for the former Marine because officiating has become part of his identify, something that stops time for him and melts away all his worries for two or three hours. Louie is already steeling himself for his last game. He says it will be a heartbreaker.

“Emotionally, I already planned that out,” he said. “I know it is coming. It is the same thing as, ‘You are going to die someday.’ I feel that if I cannot run with the players, it’s over. And I accept that.”