CEDAR LAKE — On Nov. 9, life came full circle for Fred Scheub.
After a much-more-than complicated year, the 63-year-old Merrillville man walked out on the basketball floor at Hebron High School with a whistle in his mouth.
And behind the basketball noisemaker was a tremendous, thankful smile.
Hearing the ball bounce, the squeaking of the shoes on the floor, the cheerleaders' voices, and yes, even some squawking from some fans, the IHSAA official since 1984 knew he'd returned from the abyss into the arms of Hoosier Hysteria.
As North Judson's girls basketball team played at Hebron that night, Scheub knew he was back where he belonged.
"It was so wonderful having people at the Hebron girls game asking how I was feeling," Scheub said after working a game on Wednesday at Hanover Central's Wildcat Winter Classic for girls basketball.
"Just to be out there doing what I love to do, it was great, especially after everything I'd been through."
In September 2016 a doctor's checkup showed a problem. After many tests he learned that he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which brought on chemotherapy and radiation treatments that changed Scheub's life. And look.
In the early part of last basketball season he was bald from the treatments, something he didn't enjoy.
So he posted a picture of himself on Facebook, where he has more than 1,000 friends, that was bald and wrote, "Life goes on, you have to work at it and hope that things get better."
What a great concept for breaking through the day-to-day, right?
The "likes" were many, but it didn't help his failing condition. So on Dec. 16, after working the Andrean at Kankakee Valley boys game, Scheub stopped officiating because the chemo was sapping his strength.
"I know I prayed more than I normally do," Scheub said of that time.
What an even greater concept for breaking through the day-to-day, right?
His treatment ended in time to work sectionals and regionals for both the girls and boys state tournaments, something the former cross country and track runner at Merrillville High School knows all about.
He's reffed football for 33 years and has worked four state championship games. He started working baseball in 1985 and has umped one state championship game. In the same time he's worked four state games in volleyball and one in basketball.
He's been officiating women's college basketball since 2005, too.
Spending my winters inside of the Region's gymnasiums I've heard the noise from angry parents and fans about this call or that one. It almost never ends. Yes, officials miss calls. They are humans, imperfect.
But the love of the game and the desire to be a fair arbiter drives almost all of these men and women in the games.
"When I'm out there I don't have time to be screwing one of the teams," Scheub said. "I don't have time to say, 'I hate this coach' or 'I hate that dad.' I'm just doing my best to call a good game."
Folks, remember these words the next time a zebra misses a traveling call. Enjoy the game, support your kids, but don't think that one call is stopping your kid from going D-I; it's not.
After two years of "hell" after a divorce, Scheub battled drugs and alcohol addiction until finally coming clean in 1984. He started officiating right after. He's worked at Inland Steel-Arcelor Mittal for 45 years and will retire on April 1.
As long as his health stays strong, this illness is in remission now, his zebra will not be getting a gold watch. He loves what he does too much for that.
Like always he's been busy during this holiday season working tournaments all over the area. But like many of us he loves the holidays, and is looking forward to a great 2018.
"I've always loved Christmas," Scheub said. "I sometimes drive around and look at the lights on the homes.
"But mostly, Christmas is for kids."
Just like high school basketball.