In my judgement…
This is the first in what I hope to be a pretty regular blog for our WHSVOA members. Why did I choose the title “In my judgement…”? There are a few reasons for this title. First, my writings are my own personal thoughts. They may be different from what you have heard in the past, what you do yourself, or how you like to officiate. That is ok. Take what you want from these and use it how you feel best. I just want to let you know what has worked for me in my 30 years of officiating so far. The other reason is the statement “In my judgement” can get you out of a lot of sticky situations. By making that statement when talking with a coach you aren’t blaming the coach or discounting his/her view on a play. You are stating that from the view you had and from what you observed that your judgement is…. Judgements are not up for reversal considerations. A coach may disagree with your judgement but when it comes down to it you are the official and your judgement is what matters. The statement cannot be used for the “black and white” calls that have to be made and are not up to judgements. Things like a net touch, in or out, and procedural things are not judgement calls. However, if a coach disagrees with ball handling (multiple contacts and/or prolonged contacts) those ARE judgements. Hopefully you aren’t having multiple discussions about your judgements during a match, because that could indicate a bigger problem and maybe a reevaluation of your judgement, but a single judgement call disagreement can be deescalated by using the statement “In my judgement.”
I want to start this first blog out with a brief history of how I became the official I am today. I started out calling lines for my dad (Keith Marx) when I was about 5 years old. It was simple in my mind. The ball was in or out and I made that call. I didn’t care who won or lost, I just called the ball in our out. I became a certified high school official when I graduated high school (I never played high school or club volleyball I was just always around it). I worked several high school matches and tournaments before I left for the Air Force in late September of 1992. I used to sit in the bleachers and go over alignments with my dad while we watched and he helped me with the system I use today (index card and paper clips). In 1993 I was stationed in Oklahoma City and I started officiating volleyball there. I sent out letters to every coach and high school athletic director I could find and offered to officiate scrimmages for free just to be seen and hopefully get some match assignments. There was no local officials association so each school assigned their own officials. I got a pretty good schedule my first year and worked any match that I could. I reffed some pretty low level volleyball but I got seen and I learned from every partner I worked with. I did get some pretty good matches due to working those free scrimmages and when I got those matches I officiated just like I did every other match. One of my first matches I called an illegal alignment. The coach come to me right asway and said, “That was the right call, but I don’t think an illegal alignment has ever been called in Oklahoma City.” The next year I was officiating all of the “bigger matches” and got assigned my first state finals match for the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association (OSSAA). I was assigned to umpire (R2) the finals because of what I had learned about alignment and how to officiate as the down official. The following year I worked another state final but everyone was aware that was my last year in Oklahoma and they asked me to officiate are the Ref (R1). I then moved back to Wisconsin and continued my officiating. In 1999 I was invited to ref my first state championship for the boys state tournament held by the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association (Boys Volleyball wasn’t a full WIAA sport at the time). I have been lucky enough to officiate a boys championship tournament (either boys or girls) every year until 2021-22 season. I have had great partners (Keith Marx and Linda Dahl) in my officiating career.
I started officiating volleyball when it was still using the side out scoring system. Any serve that touched the net was a side out. There was no Libero. Games were played to 15 and if the score was tied at 14 each team received an additional time out. The girls state tournament consisted of pool play. We wore black and white stripes. Proper mechanics for the R2 (umpire) included ducking under the net. Servers had to serve from the right 1/3 of the back line. Getting on the ladder sometimes meant getting on an actual ladder. The ball was all white. Multiple contacts were never allowed. A player was allowed 3 entries into the game. Once they left after their third they were done for the set. All matches were 2 of 3. It was not uncommon for Saturday tournaments to go from 9 am until 10 pm for $150.
Things have changed a lot and we, as officials, have to continue to change. I look forward to sharing some knowledge and advice based on my past experiences. If you have any specific questions please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I want this blog to be interactive. Please ask questions, add comments, feel free to add your own opinion. What I say and do may not be 100% correct 100% of the time. I just do my best like we all do.
In my judgement…