Keeping score: Dave Lister leaves a mark on scoring table
Dave Lister did not have to think twice about scoring basketball games.
He always loved the sports arena and was excited about the opportunity, never mind getting paid.
More than 15 years later, Lister is still the official scorer at Colorado Mesa University basketball games, except now he receives a stipend for the work.
“It’s fun,” Lister said with a smile. “I have the best seat in the house.
“Sometimes, you miss part of the game because you’re busy recording it.”
Lister grew up in the Grand Valley. He wrestled and played some tennis at Fruita Monument High School. After he graduated he played volleyball in a city recreation league.
He married and had two children, who followed their father and played sports through school.
After his children grew up and became more independent, Lister started getting involved in scoring high school basketball games.
“I guess I was always objective about the game,” Lister said. “My wife was very subjective. My daughter could do no wrong as far as she’s concerned.”
Lister started working as the head custodian at Central High School when he heard the athletics department needed someone to help keep score of basketball games. He volunteered with Howard Ziegler without hesitation.
Lister and Ziegler ran the scoreboard initially, then switched to the official scorebook.
“We were always looking for people to help with the scorebook and scoreboard,” former Central High and School District 51 Athletic Director Steve Phillips said. “(Lister) wanted to be around and see kids in a different light. I give Dave a lot of credit for that. He was always good about wanting to help.”
Lister and Ziegler worked nearly every game, becoming so dependable, Phillips never had to worry about finding someone to keep score.
“What sticks out about Dave to me is, one, you can count on him,” District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain said. “If he says he’ll be there you can count on him. He’s a man of integrity. I think people take it for granted sometimes.
He’s been involved with sports, I’m sure, in a lot of ways. When I was at Basalt, we would rent out the facility at Central. He was always our contact for an event with the setup and what we needed to do.”
Bryan Rooks, Colorado Mesa’s associate athletic director and a high school basketball official, worked with Lister and Ziegler and knew their reputation.
When CMU needed someone to keep score, Rooks knew exactly who he wanted — Lister and Ziegler.
“I told Rooks he does a great job for us,” Phillips said. “He’s a great guy and gets along with everybody. They enjoy the game.”
When Lister and Ziegler first started keeping book at Mesa, he was doing it as a volunteer. About three years into it, he started receiving a stipend for his work.
Lister found the college game to be more intense, but he never wavered.
“I try not to get involved or let people know I’m involved in the game,” Lister said. “I always thought you had to have that decorum.”
Former CMU men’s basketball coach Jim Heaps didn’t pay much attention to the official scorer until he started coaching Lister’s daughter on the CMU tennis team.
“You never notice him,” Heaps said. “He’s very much like referees in that way. If you’re noticing your scorekeeper, bookkeeper or clock operator they’re probably screwing up.”
Rarely has any coach questioned whether Lister gave the foul to the right person or gave two points instead of three.
Lister and Ziegler worked CMU games for more than 12 years before Ziegler died in March 2012.
“Howard Ziegler was great to work with,” Lister said. “He had a real dry sense of humor. He’d never crack a smile, but he was always making a wisecrack.
“It was sad when we lost Howard. He was a stock car fan and would go watch the NASCAR in Vegas every year right at the end of basketball season. I didn’t hear much about it, but he went out there and died of a heart attack watching the race.”
Lister still works CMU games and helps with the Central boys basketball tournament at the beginning of each season.
He rarely makes mistakes, but when he does, he catches them right away.
“We had a situation this year,” Lister said. “I got the foul on 13. The guys upstairs (sports information) got the foul on 23, which is (Ryan) Stephan. (The Mavericks) don’t want Stephan in foul trouble. Everybody at the table agreed with me, but they’re showing on the board Stephan with an extra foul. At halftime, I told them they need to fix that. The Adams State coach was really upset. He came out ranting and raving.”
The stat board with individual players’ points and fouls is run by the sports information department, which works from a booth upstairs.
“You hear people talk about home court advantage,” Heaps said. “I never wanted anything like that. That was the furthest thing to get that reputation. I never had a concern about our scorers’ table. It was always a non-issue.”