Dan Apol’s officiating profile is one most referees dream of.
When appointed to the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Dan gained the unique distinction of being the first World ParaVolley Paralympic Sitting Volleyball referee to also be appointed by FIVB to the Olympics, for the Beach event. As a Beach official Dan had previously overseen more than 600 FIVB and 3,000 USA AVP matches. As a result of his beach experience, he was destined to become a key contributor to the development of ParaVolley Beach.
Little did we know in Rio that two months later, whilst on the referee stand officiating a national volleyball match, Dan was to suffer a massive brain aneurysm, and died at the age of 44 doing what he loved. His five-year contribution as an International Referee for Sitting Volleyball was tragically cut short. He would undoubtedly have continued to make a major contribution, both on and off court, and been a key member of the referee corps at major events for a further eleven years, until he reached the retirement age in 2027.
Having been involved with volleyball since 1987, in 2006 Dan was presented with another opportunity in his beloved volleyball world, that of volunteer coach for the USA sitting national teams when training in Colorado Springs. Giving back to the sport was something Dan always felt strongly about and when this opportunity was presented, he willingly accepted. So, by Rio 2016 Dan had already been involved with some aspect of Sitting Volleyball for ten years. He had quickly fallen in love with the game and began working at national events to grow the sport.
Like many International Referees he first became involved internationally as a line judge, in Dan’s case at the 2010 Sitting World Championships in Oklahoma. It was then he immediately decided he wanted to become a ParaVolley referee. In 2011 his wish came true as he attended and passed the International Referee Course in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In addition to international duties, he continued refereeing the USA Warrior Games, Colorado Crossroads, USA volleyball Open championships. He was appointed to the World Championships in Elblag, Poland in 2014, before receiving the ultimate appointment to the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Despite all his successes Dan always remained grounded. He was always professional, was highly respected and a role model. It was typical of his approach to life that as an organ and tissue donor he was able to better the lives of more than 50 people.
His life and World ParaVolley career ended way too soon. He contributed a great deal to the sport and would undoubtedly have gone on to contribute for many years to come.