Gathering a team of top-notch intramural officials starts before the training even begins. It all starts with marketing and recruitment.
“Even if you have some quality officials, you can never pass up the opportunity to recruit and bring in more depth for your program,” said Brian Mills, the director of recreation at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. “Giving yourself time to market and recruit officials every semester is crucial to continual success of your program. After a period of marketing, before we start sport-specific trainings, we hold a general officials interest meeting to share the benefits of working for our programs, and what officiating can do for them now and in the future.”
Once you have developed a strong team of officials, it is important they understand all the rules and regulations before they can hit the court or field. At the University of Houston-Clear Lake, intramural official training starts with a classroom session where they cover rules, philosophy, penalty enforcement, game management, etc.
Next, it is time to put the skills they have learned in the classroom to the test with field or court clinics. During this time, officials will practice set-up and take-down from shifts, mechanics, positioning, floor reporting, game management and more.
At the University of Central Florida, the final step is practice games. New officials will work a practice game or shadow shift with an experienced official. Once they have completed all the necessary training, don’t just throw new officials to the sharks. Make sure they have the necessary support to be successful.
“We strategically schedule new officials with experienced officials to help them learn and grow,” said James Wilkening, the director of recreation at UCF. “Also, at every game our intramural supervisors are there and they will provide some additional advice to help officials get better.”
Creating a program that develops and educates aspiring intramural officials is a process that takes time, however it is worth it, for these positions help students learn lifelong skills. “You really get conflict resolution skills, learn to be a team member, decision making and all of these skills that apply to so many aspects of a future career,” said Wilkening. “I tell people all the time, I would never be the director of recreation at UCF if I didn’t start officiating back when I was in college.”