MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Doug Baxter's been officiating high school football in Montgomery for 14 years.
He didn't know James Parrish personally, but was stunned to hear of his death on a field much like the one he walks up and down every weekend.
"I was in shock, I really was. It's just one of those things you don't expect to happen," says Baxter.
Parrish's death has Baxter thinking about his own well-being out on the gridiron.
"There are really no physical requirements," he says.
According to Greg Brewer at the Alabama High School Athletic Association, officials are not required to have physicals or meet any standardized health guidelines.
"It's basically up to the individual who's an adult to do their own preparing for the season, both physically and mentally," says Brewer.
He says the AHSAA suggests officials work to get in shape before each season begins.
Individual athletic associations to which officials belong are allowed to implement their own physical standards if they want to.
"Obviously, if we recommend it and they choose to do it that's icing on the cake for them," adds Brewer.
Referees say they're using this incident as a wake-up call to help promote better health habits even before they step out on the field.
"You need to be doing something prior to the season starting, walking, not all of us can run, but still doing some of those things," says Baxter.