Learning to Play for the Third Team

By Zach McMahon in Sports

For most athletes, playing the game ends with your last season senior year in high school. It’s typically an emotional end, after all the sweat, struggle and success.

But the game doesn’t have to end with high school graduation.

You can remain connected to your sport by playing as the third team on the field — the official.

Clark offered Introduction to Sports Officiating last fall. The two-credit class teaches students the fundamentals of conflict resolution, stress management, personal fitness and communicating with players, parents, coaches and other officials.

Due to low turnout the class was not offered Winter quarter but will be offered again in the spring, according to Blake Bowers, dean of Business and Health Sciences.

The class also is a chance to network with working officials, which can lead to jobs.

Intramural Program Director and instructor Garet Studer said the class is perfect for students.  “Most of their [officiating] job’s hours are going to be in the evenings, after school or on weekends.”

Rick Stover is the Vice President of the Evergreen Basketball Officials Association and said he started officiating in college. “It’s a great way to stay connected to the game and to make a few dollars,” Stover said to a fall officiating class.

Students can make $15 to $45 a game. “It’s a hobby that makes money. You can officiate and have fun with it,” Studer said.

“They have a significant need for soccer officials, and while they have enough for basketball if someone has to miss a game, we all have to cover it,” Stover said.

Stover said the course teaches students skills that could apply to any job. “Being a sports official enhanced my professional career. Having the experience of dealing with people and with tough situations enhanced my abilities,” said Stover.

Bryce Baucum took the class in the fall and said a student doesn’t need to know the sport inside and out to start.  “It’s about learning the fundamentals,” said Baucum, who plays softball for Clark and plans to begin officiating in the summer.

Studer said one benefit of the class is that it provides a safe atmosphere for erring. “It’s a great place to make mistakes,” he said. “You don’t have angry parents saying ‘why are you making that call?’ which inhibits the learning process.”

He added, “You don’t need to have playing experience, just a love for sports. It’s a great way if you’re into sports to stay connected.”

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