Longtime South Sound official Mike Kain died on Saturday, Sept. 24, after he suffered a heart attack while officiating a football matchup between Yelm and River Ridge the prior night.
Kain served as a referee and as the president of the South Sound Football Officials Association.
Toward the end of the second quarter on Friday night, Kain reportedly exited the field after not feeling right. While receiving medical attention from local EMTs on a sideline section at the South Sound Stadium, it became apparent that Kain had suffered a heart attack.
His condition quickly worsened and he received CPR on the field, and an automated external defibrillator was used in lifesaving efforts.
Kain was then transported to a local hospital where he later died.
According to a Facebook post from YCS Athletics & Activities, Kain’s family was able to join him and say goodbye at the hospital.
“Mike Kain will be missed in the Thurston County football community,” YCS Athletics & Activities wrote. “Please rally around our officials for the remainder of this season as they are struggling with the loss of this phenomenal official.”
Kain began his football officiating career in 1983 and continued to officiate after he relocated to the Olympia area. Over the years, Kain gained a reputation for being one of the top officials in the South Sound area.
Many described Kain as a mentor and a great person in comments attached to the Facebook post.
Gary Cooper, a former co-worker of Kain, shared his thoughts about his friendship with Kain.
“Mike hired me for my first job at Thurston County early in my career, then we became peers working together in the planning department. Mike was a loyal friend to me over the years when I had a few stumbles in my career,” Cooper wrote. “After his retirement a few years ago, we remained in touch and played golf frequently. Mike was a good friend, a person with whom I never had a disagreement of any kind. I will miss him.”
Former Tornado running back and current assistant coach Brandon Thompson shared his memories of Kain, who officiated a plethora of Thompson’s games.
“Mike officiated many games I played in from sixth to twelfth grade and will be missed greatly,” Thompson wrote. “Situations like these remind us that football is just a game and players, coaches and officials are all real people. (My) thoughts go out to all of Mike’s family and friends impacted by this loss.”
In the past, Kain also officiated other sports, which included baseball and basketball.
Terry Simmonds, a member of the South Sound Officials Association, described Kain as a supportive person.
“He would go out of his way to help someone become better. He was a mentor, a leader, and he unselfishly gave up time to help someone improve. Mike was always looking for ways for the association to get better too. He was a hell of a man,” Simmonds said during an interview with Nisqually Valley News. “There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude, the thanks, and support he provided for our young men and women to play athletics.”
There will be a special ceremony at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia to honor the life of Kain on Thursday, Sept. 29. It’s scheduled to take place at 6:40 p.m., about 20 minutes before kickoff time. Simmonds said officials will be dressed in full gear as a tribute to Kain. His wife will also present the coin toss for the contest between Capital and Central Kitsap.
The Yelm Tornados will also honor Kain with a moment of silence prior to the opening kickoff of their upcoming football game against North Thurston on Friday, Sept. 30 at home.