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Lots of good reasons to become a youth sports official

To the editor:

The Lifestyle from The Journal, Sunday, Jan. 6 is a much welcomed and appreciated spotlight on a national youth and school level sports culture issue.

I remember as a kid listening to the adults around me talk about game officiators. How they’re blind. How they’re dumb. How they’re biased and or getting paid to be biased. That was the dialogue I attached to any ref at any level. I believe the term is “armchair quarterback” — a person who feels as though they can yell, put down, question loudly, the decisions of coaches or officials from the comfort of a La-Z-Boy.

These folks are anything but blind, biased and dumb. They are passionate about their game, they are chaos pilots in high stress situations, and they still manage to rise above the negative press to contribute to the sanctity, love and culture of their sport. They do it for next to nothing because they’re doing it for reasons bigger than money — which I think the article did a good job of articulating.

If you are interested in officiating for area soccer, please go out to this website:

https://www.minnesotasrc.com/index.php?accesscheck=TRUE

Sign up to take the training. Upon completion of training individuals will need to sign up for a one day class to complete certification.

All costs, including uniforms, will be reimbursed after individuals have refereed 2 games in a season. Association refs do get moderately paid. New Ulm Area Soccer Association also reimburses for mileage.

Any returning referees are encouraged to continue training. Again, New Ulm Area Soccer Association will reimburse training costs.

Applying and training for association soccer will put you in contact with the folks who can help you to get certified for the MSHSL league. If you are looking to certify, you must be 18 years of age or older. High School level soccer referees are also paid and at a higher rate.

Here is the link for MSHSL: http://www.mshsl.org/mshsl/sofficials/newofficials.asp

Support for our officials includes mentoring, something which the SCMSOA and Minnesota ASRC is working with officials like Myron Fluegge and Jonathan Johnson to help pass the torch of senior most officials in areas while strengthening this growing pool of local talent which consists of children age 12 and up, through adults who just love soccer.

Spectators can be supportive of officials by keeping a few things in mind:

• It’s just a game

• Officials and coaches are human, they’re allowed to make mistakes. They are dealing with a lot of information at once and it’s impossible to be perfect all the time.

• Keep your comments to yourself-you never know who is around you listening, including children.

• Keep your team parents and players accountable-negativity is like a cancer, it grows very quickly-don’t be afraid to approach someone who is acting poorly by yelling at an official.

• If you have a legitimate concern about the way a game is officiated, talk to your coach who can submit in inquiry. There is a process and the Minnesota State Ref Committee is very involved with that process to review complaints and deal/correct/advise any issues.

• Get involved! Sign up to referee!

– Great way to learn more about the game

– You won’t be thrown to the sharks right away, many recommend reffing for sideline before jumping into center to get a feel — you work at a pace you’re comfortable with

– Grow your personal and professional networks by working with others in the community

– Contributing back to your sports community in a positive way

– Great way to remain active and earn a little extra money on the side

These are but a few of the many ways that we can change that culture around our sports officials to help them to grow and remain successful. Without sports officials, we, quite literally, don’t have a game.

Rebecca DeMarais

NUAYSA President

New Ulm

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