Love March Madness! Like many of you, from March 19 through April 8th, I am glued to the television, flipping channels and watching my favorite teams. In my case, I ALSO watch my favorite refs. From the opening toss, I pretend I am one of the crew and I make calls all the while comparing my call selection to theirs. The "block" versus "charge" calls are especially fun- and difficult- no matter if calling a Division I mens game or a high school freshman game. Both require split second judgement, positioning, and rules knowledge... with emphasis on the "split second". The difficulty of this call was evident in the Ohio State versus Iowa State game when in the final minutes of that very close match up, the lead official called an offensive foul, or "charge" on the Iowa State shooter. The contact, in my opinion, met all the criteria of a charge wherein the defender had established legal guarding positiion before the shooter left the ground. Contact was made squarely with the defender's upper torso. The controversy arises because the foul occured in the "restricted area" semi circle beneath the basket where, by NCAA rule if a defender is on or within that space, the foul is a block. Rules aside, the timing of the call caused consternation, to say the least. Given the closeness of the game, should the official have held his whistle? Called a block? The lead official made his call. He was closest to the play and while we and sportscasters can second guess what he should have done, those kinds of situations are part of the game of basketball. These are some of the reason I love officiating.
I am always energized after watching these plays and can hardly wait to get out on the court. After a decent season where I was assigned more Varsity games than in previous years,I can feel my confidence soar along with my tenure and promotability. I am "feeling" the game come to me, finally. And in the April lull between winter and spring basketball, I typically anticipate the rush of signing up for boys varsity spring league assignments, teaming with varsity officials and looking forward to next season. This year, however, anticipation has given way to uncertainty. My day job went away last December and I decided to move to North Carolina. I resigned my position on the executive board and focussed on what lies ahead. What does lie ahead? At this fork in the road to varsity, I have so many questions going through my head. When will I make varsity? Will I make varsity? How will I make varsity? I am leaving behind over seven years of officiating momentum. The people who helped me, mentored me, are all here in Virginia.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association ( NCHSAA) recognizes and is served by eight basketball officiating organizations. By contrast, The Virginia High School league recognizes fifteen associations. I am not sure what this means for me, but my biggest concern is will my lack of full varsity status hurt my chances for varsity game assignment in my new association? The idea of starting over after have come so far--- stings. What to do? Other officials familiar with associations in other states warn that the transfer and evaluation process is different ( aka frustrating to them). They add that assignments are handled differently as well. And while I appreciate their attempts to set expectation levels for me, I know in my heart that the best approach is the one learned at the very beginning of my officiating journey. That is, have a patient whistle and let the play unfold and focus on what you can control. When viewed in this context, I am emboldened by the change and what lies ahead, for what I control, indeed what all of us control in substantial:
I control my willingness to learn new skill. Learning the craft of basketball officiating, at my tender age of ( late 40 to 50 something) is an accomplishment, if I do say so myself. And as you can tell, the learning continues. Secondly, I control my ability to adapt to change. Change is in my DNA. I have changed more high schools in my youth and jobs in the career than most people...and am the better for it. And finally, I control my ability to be a catalyst to change. I have learned that while many counsel that people don't like change, my experience has been the opposite, people welcome it.. and many like me, and those whom I serve, thrive in its wake. My officiating journey continues... North Carolina, here I come.