National Football League referee and Arkansas native Walt Coleman III will be the guest speaker at the upcoming Paris Area Chamber of Commerce awards banquet.
The banquet will be held at The Lodge at Mount Magazine State Park on Feb. 17. Tickets to the event are on sale now. Tickets are $50 each and may be purchased at the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce, 301 West Walnut, during regular business hours.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour followed by the banquet and the awards program.
Coleman III has officiated in the NFL since the 1989 season. He wears uniform number 65. Coleman lives in Little Rock, Arkansas and is a sixth-generation family operator of Hiland Dairy. Coleman is married to wife Cynthia and they have two children, Walter and Courtney Coleman.
Outside of officiating, Coleman serves on many local boards and associations including the Little Rock Boys and Girls Club and Greater Little Rock YMCA. Coleman is a former president of the Arkansas Dairy Products Association and Major Sports Association of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Coleman was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in February 2009, joining his father, Buddy Coleman, a 1994 inductee.
Coleman worked for the Arkansas Activities Association, the governing body for high school athletics in Arkansas, for 14 years before moving up to the college level. His college officiating career included five years in the Southland Conference (Division I-AA) and five years in the Southwest Conference (Division I). He was never promoted to referee during his college officiating career since he could not justify heading a crew with his five year’s experience in each conference.
Coleman served as a line judge for the first six seasons before being promoted to referee at the start of the 1995 NFL season when Dale Hamer was forced to sit out that season after undergoing open-heart surgery. Mike Carey had been promoted to referee when the NFL added another crew for the 1995 season in anticipation of the arrival of expansion franchises Carolina and Jacksonville.
Over his NFL career, he has worked two conference championship games (1998 and 2003) and was the alternate referee for Super Bowls XXXIV, XLII, and LI.