As a new sports season approaches, Moffat County High School teams are busy finalizing their rosters.
One team, however, is having problems filling out its numbers.
“There is a lack of officials in Northwest Colorado,” MCHS Athletic Director Richard Wildenhaus said. “There are a lot of areas that are struggling with finding officials right now.
“It’s not just here — it’s in Rangely, Hayden, Steamboat and Meeker, too.”
Because MCHS has to import referees from as far away as Gypsum and Rifle, the costs for officiating games has increased dramatically, Wildenhaus said.
Officials are paid for not only working during the game, but 40 cents for every mile traveled.
“Along the I-70 corridor, they are official-thick,” Wildenhaus said. “That’s why we are able to bring in refs from there.
“But, because they have to travel more, we have been having to pay more and more.”
Last year, MCHS spent approximately $20,000 for officials to call games.
Wrestling, girls soccer and boys baseball are the three sports with the smallest number of local officials, Wildenhaus said.
Last year, there were no home wrestling tournaments, but with two on the horizon this winter, the costs could be going up, Wildenhaus said.
“Their prices are going up, and we are looking down the barrel of budget cuts,” he said. “That’s why having local officials would help us so much.
“In some places, it’s in crisis mode, because there is such a lack.”
Anyone interested in becoming an official should contact the Colorado High School Activities Association.
“They should talk to Tom Robinson, who will give them all the information they need,” Wildenhaus said. “They have regularly scheduled meetings to go over rule changes.”
Each sport has different criteria, and officials can become certified faster in some sports as opposed to others.
After completing the forms and going through training, referees are tasked with officiating sub-varsity level games.
“There are quite a few from Steamboat, but we need three per game,” Wildenhaus said. “That means we are spending anywhere between $250 and $300 per game, just for officials.”
Wildenhaus said the school is looking for people who can ref for an extended period.
“We are looking for some younger guys who can be officials for a long time,” he said. “It’s not easy to find officials.
“Right now, there is a huge lack of officials nationwide.”