Training offered for locally based officials in Northwest Colorado sports
A full roster for a sports team is not uncommon, but the numbers for those signing up to oversee athletic competitions are rarely as robust, which is a deficiency local organizations hope to curb.
Colorado Northwestern Community College is hosting a clinic for softball umpires starting July 26 at the CNCC Meeker Service Center, 345 Sixth St., in Meeker.
The 10-class session is one which the school hopes will be the first of many offered in providing the opportunity for community members to become certified with Colorado High School Activities Association to officiate sports around the region.
Desiree Moore, CNCC director of community education, said she and Moffat County High School Activities Director Rich Houghton hope to combat “a huge deficit” of officials along the Western Slope in all sports.
While softball is not a sport offered at MCHS — though Meeker and Rifle field varsity programs — courses for officials in football, basketball and baseball are in the works in the coming months through the college.
Moore had scheduled a volleyball official course to begin early this month in Craig but had to cancel due to low turnout.
“The jobs are there, we just have to get people to fill them,” Moore said.
Part of the difficulty of arranging courses is going through multiple officials organizations and the small window of time for which certification is available for each sport.
Another tough sell is the initial cost to students — for example, the softball umpire course is $45 for the class and $85 for a textbook and testing fee.
However, Moore said the cost is an investment for those able to take a few hours out of their week to officiate a sporting event, which can pay nearly $60 for a single game or match, as well as increased rates for tournaments and other larger events.
Those who receive certification for CHSAA events could likely qualify for middle school or recreation events, though officiating for college sports would require different prerequisites.
The life skills learned are also invaluable, Moore added.
“If you can calm a screaming parent or a coach who’s mad at a call you made, you can solve any conflict,” she said.
Houghton said having a pool of qualified area people available to officiate would be beneficial to the school, which often needs to bring in out-of-town personnel, particularly football and wrestling.
“We have to pay some pretty excessive travel fees,” he said.
Houghton will attend a master clinic this weekend in Steamboat Springs offered by Colorado Football Officials Association.
With training as a basketball referee himself, the main thing he said people should keep in mind about wearing the stripes is being ready to learn beyond what they already know about a given sport.
“You’ve got to be willing to upgrade your skills, learn new rules and learn from each other,” he said.
For more information on sports officials classes through CNCC, call Desiree Moore at 970-824-1101. For information on requirements, pay rates and organizations through CHSAA, visit www2.chsaa.org.
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