Back in the saddle again!
The first week of the season has officially ended. It brings a relief for me. I get to “just officiate” for the most part. For me most of the off season is more stressful and more time consuming than the regular season. Sure, I ref almost every night Monday -Saturday. However, the constant duties of being the president of a large association quiet down quite a bit. They never go away, but I can worry about my schedule and my matches for the most part.
What does a president do in the off season? The biggest amount of time spent was related to our officials’ clinics. To most people it would probably seem like you just set it up and the job is done. However, it starts in late January with contacting coaches and Athletic Directors. Are we still having the scrimmages and summer leagues? Are they still the same times? Once those are confirmed I have to determine how many officials are needed. That is usually pretty easy. I would like to have two officials per court but if a few courts only have one it will be ok. I agreed to supply officials for scrimmages and most scrimmages only had one or no officials. However, I want to make the schools feel like they are getting what I said I hoped to provide.
Once those dates and times are verified, I contact WIAA to get the clinic approval so the officials can get credit. This then goes out of my hands. The WIAA has certain requirements. They state there must be two hours of a classroom clinic and two hours of on-court observations. I often get messages from officials that this seems like too much. The only reply I have is that I don’t determine the requirements. After I figure out how many officials are needed, I set up the sign-up procedures. I then send that out to our members. That’s when things go crazy. I want to provide opportunities for all of our officials while still covering all of the open slots. I also need to have qualified clinicians who want to work. Once all of that has been organized I get to wait for officials to sign up…..
Some officials have certain dates they can make and only can work certain times. That is understandable because it is summer and there are a lot of vacations plans. I try to move people around when I am able but if people are set in their schedules it has to come down to first come first serve. I then build a waiting list. One of the biggest frustrations comes from no shows. I may have a list of 4 people waiting for a spot and then an official doesn’t show up. We are then short officials at the scrimmage and I (as well as our association) look bad and an official on the list missed out on an opportunity. That is what frustrates me the most. The fact that I had an official ready and willing to come to a clinic and it was taken by a spot that ended up as a no-show. I really appreciate an email that lets me know someone will not be able to make it. But in all reality, unless it is at least 24 hours before the clinic, we are in a bind. I spend most of the week of clinics scrambling to fill openings that have wait lists. 90% of officials are amazing at attending the clinics they sign up for. But when someone doesn’t show up, it gets crazy. After each clinic I then have to review each observation, send notes to our assigner, and record them to send to WIAA for clinic verification. Once the clinics are completed, I have a final verification to send to WIAA. At that time, I usually get few emails from officials asking why they didn’t get credit for the full clinic. The reasons is almost always they didn’t attend both the classroom and on court observation.
Besides the clinics I have quite a few emails to respond to from officials. Some common questions:
Q- Why am I not being assigned a full schedule?
A- The schedules are still being assigned and will continue to be assigned. If you have an open date and want to work it will probably be filled. However, there are just some dates that do not have many games while other dates have more games than we can fill.
Q- Why am I not being assigned the “big games”?
A- Our assigner does the best she can at matching officials to the games that best fit them. What might seem like a big game to you may not be the most important game. An example is a regional assignment from WIAA. You may see the big game as the #1 seed. However, in that first round, the big game is the #8 vs #9.
Q – Why am I not getting sectional or state assignments?
A – That is determined by WIAA and goes partially off coach’s evaluations. That is why it is so important you enter your schedule into your official’s profile. Also, have you attended clinics to improve? Every official can improve. I get an evaluation each year to find out what I can get better at.
Q – Why am I being assigned with XX for a tournament or dual match?
A – It usually comes down to officials who have regular partners get matched up with those partners first. Then mentoring relationships get considered. Then officials who have expressed wanting to work together are paired together to see if it will be a good partnership. Then things like distances traveled, experience, and reffing styles are considered. Sometimes it is then who is left.
I also am in regular contact throughout the off season with our assigner and am a sounding board for her. She gets many of the same e-mails and then some. Some Athletic Directors have officials they want or don’t want at their contests. Some officials have travel and date restrictions. Some officials want or don’t want to work with other officials. Some officials will only work certain levels of matches while some will only work for certain pay. I will say, the more flexible you are with any assigner, the better your assignments will be in the long run. Sure, you may get that bad match that no one wants. But you will be rewarded in turn by many more good matches.
So now that the season has started I get to “Just Ref”. Yes, I will still have some responsibilities during the season. However, my daily workload as far as the association decreases tremendously. That is unless a REALLY BIG problem arises. Hopefully we can avoid those this year.
Here is to a great and uneventful season!
A new season
Back in the saddle again!
1 thought on “A new season”
Thank you Brian for all you (and the other board members) do for the association. I know from experience it can be a thankless job at times.