Ohio high school offers semester-long referee course

An Ohio high school is doing its part in ensuring the future of scholastic sports won’t continue to be threatened by a referee shortage.

Boardman High School has started a sports officiating pilot class this school year and plans to offer a semester-long sports officiating class next year.

refereeIt’s been long reported by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and various media outlets that the country has been feeling the squeeze on scheduling referees.

A recent story from WFMJ.com detailed the high school referee pilot program. Below is an excerpt from the WFMJ.com story.

According to exit interviews with officials across the country, one of the top three reasons cited for stepping away is the escalating unsporting behavior toward officials by participants, coaches, and fans. The other two reasons most cited are a job change and opting to spend more time with family.

Boardman High School senior, Braeden Pugh, is an example of a program to bolster the declining ranks of sports officials.  Pugh won a new $500 grant from RefReps and a non-profit group called ‘Save Our Sport’. His goal is to become a sports official.

“The OHSAA has gone away from in-person classes which poses a challenge for new sports officials getting started,” said Brian Ladner, BHS Health/PE teacher who’s instructing the class. “We based our class on the OHSAA’s preference, the RefReps program, which is a really engaging, informative, and inclusive sports officiating education curriculum.”

So far, five Boardman High students have had the opportunity to officiate in some capacity.

Students taking part in the Boardman officiating class will not be required to get certified in each sport if they don’t want to. However, they are still required to learn how to officiate football, volleyball, and soccer in part of the fall semester and then the winter/spring sports in the second semester.

Part of the training they will get is in-class work where they will officiate games between their classmates where they work on gaining confidence in their abilities and managing conflict before being placed into an actual game setting.

Students then put what they learn into action by participating in practice or scrimmage settings and work youth games to hone mechanics and get a true feel for the game.

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Students must officiate two real games in a local recreation or community league setting and are recommended as micro-internships.

The purpose of the Save our Sport “Right Start Grant” is to support high school students in their pursuit of personal, professional, and academic development and success through the journey of becoming a sports official.

To read the full story from WFMJ.com about Boardman’s referee course, click here.