The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has recently been sending letters to local official’s chapters whose memberships have fallen below 15 to advise them to increase their numbers or be liquidated. To date, at least one local softball group has felt the PIAA lash and was dissolved while many other chapters in several sports have received notice of similar fates.
Local chapters, therefore, are sending a call-out to anyone who has been thinking about taking the test or tests to become a PIAA Sports Official. With officials facing retirement after many years of dedicated service, chapters need new members to keep their numbers up. Tests are given at various times during the year, and in some cases, district representatives have been willing to administer tests on other dates upon request.
Local chapters are also willing to help candidates get started. Contacting local secretaries will allow one to find times and dates of meetings to discuss strategies, rules and other procedures to better prepare for game days.
The Clear-Centre Chapter for basketball, for instance, is prepared to invite new recruits to its meetings before the test to get a feel for what is involved in officiating. Help in preparing for the exam is also available. Contact Dave Wright, the chapter rules interpreter, at 577-3779 for more information on becoming a local basketball official.
Opportunities do exist to work scrimmages and junior high contests to get a better feel for the flow of games. And, it is always recommended to travel with a mentor to observe a game from a referee’s point of view and join in the pre-, and post-game conversations in the locker room. The District has also provided clinics in the past to further address the mechanics of officiating for new recruits, as well as, a refresher for the veterans.
A good source to find other local chapter officers for any sport is District IX Representative Bud Brennen (814-772-1272). Brennen, who is currently in his 40th year as an active official, can provide contact names and numbers for all District IX chapters in any sport.
“We need new officials in every sport all around the district to provide quality game management for our athletic contests,” Brennen noted. “Our student- athletes work hard and represent District IX well. As officials, it is nice to see the representation of our crews at the district and state levels as well. Officiating is both challenging and rewarding and provides a great outlet for continuing to be part of an activity that you fell in love with as a student-athlete.”
The next two testing dates fall on February 4, and June 3, 2013. Local tests will be taken at the Elk County Catholic High School at 7:00 p.m. Prospective officials need to visit the PIAA website (www.piaa.org) and locate the Officials tab at the top of the page. A drop down menu will appear with, “Becoming an Official,” as the desired option. From that point, simply follow steps for registration. This will notify District IX officials of which tests and how many are needed prior to the test dates. The fee to take any test is $30. The registration fee is valid for a one year period, and a second test for additional certification in another sport may be taken during that period at no further cost. Further information is available on the PIAA web site.
As a two-sport official myself, I have found the experience to be very rewarding. I do have a greater respect for those that managed the game when I played (some of whom I now work with). I’m sure there are many who have disagreed with my judgment over the years, but, if I can be honest, that’s why I took the test – I thought I could do a better job.
So, come on out, challenge yourself, join the fun, and do a better job than all of us. The athletes will thank you for it.