More referees needed for high school sports

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 3:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - High school sports are about to get underway in central Virginia.

There has been a shortage of officials the last couple of years during the coronavirus pandemic, and now there’s a push to get more referees.

Typically, there are six referees for a high school football game. However, some games had as few as four last year.

The Piedmont Valley Football Officials Association has taken steps to get to full staff for this school year. It has made good progress, but the association is still looking for more help.

Connor Dight and Deandre Gross are rookie refs. They’re going through a six-week course to become high school football officials.

“Though it was a good opportunity to give back because I played in the district,” Gross said. “I thought it would be a cool thing to do.”

Both have done the classroom training, and are now going out for field instruction to work with veteran officials.

“There’s something about officiating that I just fell in love with. It’s a whole different side of the sport that gives you an appreciation for the refs, Dight said. “It’s so much harder than you would think.”

The referee’s association will train anyone who wants to learn.

“We definitely would love to have men and women. We have several women here in our association this year. I would encourage more officials to come out. We are still short from the numbers we’d like to be, ” PVFOA Vice President Alfred Wilson said.

There is optimism that there will be enough referees to fully staff football games.

“Social media has been a big help in our presence,” Wilson said. “We’ve created a website - We’ve gotten the word out by going to job fairs.”

“Anybody can do it, you just have to put the time into it,” Gross said.

“It’s a trial by fire process. The more you try, the easier it gets. For the most part, you see the same things over and over,” Dight said.

Wilson says the biggest key to being a good ref is patience.

“Patience and understanding. What I emphasize to any new official is every one of these games is like a Super Bowl to these kids. You want to make sure that you are doing your best for player safety and you make sure they enjoy what they’re doing,” he said.

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