John Shoppe of Lamoine has survived two heart attacks including one during an Eastern Maine Basketball Tournament game in 2013.
Now he is dealing with Lyme disease.
But neither has kept Shoppe from refereeing basketball, volleyball and softball contests. It just means he takes a lot of medication every day.
Shoppe said he loves refereeing and umpiring.
“It’s a lot of fun. We have our own close-knit organization. We care for each other,” he added.
Shoppe’s latest health issue occurred last fall when he was refereeing basketball games at Husson University in Bangor.
“After the game I noticed I had a lump under my right rib cage,” said Shoppe. “There was a tick there. It could have come off my street clothes, I don’t know.”
He had it surgically removed and took a couple of pills afterward.
“I thought I was all right,” said the 64-year-old Shoppe, who had had ticks removed on three previous occasions.
But he said he noticed that every once in awhile, when he was referring basketball games this winter, he would have a “hard time breathing for the first five or six minutes of the game, until my body warmed up. Then I’d be great for the rest of the game.”
Three weeks ago, he went to his longtime chiropractor, Dr. Zev Myerowitz, for a thorough checkup, and Shoppe said Myerowitz eventually diagnosed that Lyme was still in his system.
“My kidneys weren’t up to par,” said Shoppe.
So he has been taking a pill and a liquid three times per day in addition to his various heart medications.
So far, so good.
“I feel good. I work out all the time. I enjoy doing two ballgames in a day,” he said. “I’ll keep umpiring as long as the coaches and athletic directors will have me.”
For 25 years, Shoppe used to umpire both baseball and softball games.
“But I was working every day so I decided to get out of it,” said Shoppe, who also refereed soccer games and has been a volleyball official for the past 12 years.
The softball assigner, Sheridan Davis, contacted him four years ago and told him they had an umpire shortage in softball. So Shoppe returned to do just softball in the spring.
He began refereeing basketball games when he was a freshman in high school.
“We would referee the girls games. Girls basketball was a club sport back then,” said Shoppe, who has refereed state championship games in five sports.
He still referees summer league soccer games, too.
He will take a week off to visit his 4½-year-old granddaughter, Kylie Rae Pickard, in Florida beginning Friday.
“She will tell me what to do for a week,” joked Shoppe.
When he returns, he’ll be right back on the softball field.
“I’ll be back a week from Friday, and I’ll probably have games on Saturday,” said Shoppe, who wouldn’t have it any other way.