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The Road To Varsity: It's Important To Look At The Signs Along The Way


It's been a full month and a half since the high school basketball season started, yet I have yet to officiate a varsity game.

Although I have been officiating for eight years, my move from Virginia to North Carolina last May meant that I was in my first year of membership in a new association.  I fully expected some degree of scrutiny, testing and evaluation after the move.  I paid dues, attended clinics, arrived early, stayed late, volunteered for more than the minimum number of scrimmages, and sought feedback from senior officials. Despite all my efforts, energy and experience, and relatively stellar evaluations and commentary from association insiders during the pre-season, my schedule, at least so far, is chock-full of non-varsity games. 

A veteran high school basketball official learns that her move to new state has meant that the road to officiating varsity games is going to take longer than she thought and take more twists and turns, so she will need to keep a sharp lookout for signs along the way in order to enjoy the trip.

The Road to Varsity: Lessons from Little League

My relocation to North Carolina temporarily disrupted my officiating schedule. With membership into a new association pending,  I needed to find a way to work on my game during the summer and fall without the benefit of regularly scheduled summer basketball. Tennis provided an excellent venue for physical preparation.  Tennis, like basketball requires fitness, quickness, teamwork and stamina. But while tennis helped with the physical game, it was watching Little League baseball, more than anything else, that helped the most with the mental side of basketball officiating.

A high school basketball official prepares for the upcoming season by learning valuable lessons on the mental aspects of sports by watching the fun 10-year-olds have playing Little League baseball.

The Road to Varsity - Mentoring Milestones on the Road Ahead

It's been five weeks since I moved to the Tarheel State, and in that time I have attended two basketball officiating clinics. The first was held at UNC Charlotte and served as an introduction into North Carolina high school basketball. The second was a teaching camp at Liberty University, run by NCAA officials and my fourth summer attending that camp.

A high school basketball official's attendance at two summer officiating camps teaches her some valuable lessons on the Road to Varsity.

The (Fork in the) Road to Varsity

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".

Woman Officials: Paying Attention, Not Drawing Attention Is Key to Success

Being a woman official who wants to achieve varsity status requires an understanding of the unique challenges and dynamics that may not exist in traditional work environments.

Being a woman basketball official who aspires to work high school varsity games requires a delicate balancing act: working to improve our skills while not drawing attention to our gender or any aspect that negatively influences the perception of our abilities.

The Key to Performance Improvement? Dont Focus!!!! RELAX!

Last I blogged, I shared the fact that I re-engaged with tennis this summer.  Now, after four months of lessons and social meet ups, I learned a valuable lesson about competitive play and performance improvment.  In order to improve, the most important skill is NOT to focus and work hard. On the contrary, the most important performance improvment skill was to do NOTHING. In other words... RELAX.  While this may be counterintuitive, my tennis experience proves this point.

Holding Court: The Tennis Court That Is!

Since my last blog, where I shared my disappointment in not being invited to the summer evaluation officiating program, I made a commitment to refocus my energy on other things. After all, life is more than just basketball, right?  (There, I said it!)

I decided to re-engage with tennis, a sport that I loved as a youth, but have not played in decades. In doing so, I discovered  that not only do I still LOVE the sport, but I have an opportunity to expand my momsTEAM perspective beyond officiating and sport parenthood.   With tennis, the officiating hat is off, and replaced with that of a  player on a doubles team, as well as a player being coached.  

Here are some of the insights I have gained so far:

After the disappointment of not being invited to the summer evaluation program, a high school basketball official refocuses her energy on tennis, a sport that she loved as a youth, but had not played in decades, and gains a new insight into youth sports on a different court.

The Road to Varsity : Dealing with Disappointment

The 2012 Summer Evaluation Program, or SEP as my association calls it, is coming up and several officials have been invited to attend and be evaluated for potential promotion. I was NOT on the invitation list and am very disappointed to say the least.  The elation of last year's promotion has been abruptly and unceremoniously replaced with a lousy feeling of failure and self-doubt.

A high school basketball official reminds herself that, if it is one thing she has learned about life's setbacks, it is that they often represent blessings in disguise.

MomsTeam and Fighting the Good Fight - Pro Humanitate

I recently attended campus day - my first "parent meet faculty" event at the university my daughter has chosen to spend the next four years of her life. As an mom and experienced sport parent, I approached the event with my usual silent support,  and measured, but contained enthusiasm ( I am very proud of her!).  Since she has already accepted the offer of admission, the check has been deposited, the dye cast, my attendance goal was to listen, absorb, people watch, and purchase university spirit wear. I accomplished all this -- but walked away from the event with so much more.  In short, I was BLOWN AWAY.

Recent visits  to the campus of the university her daughter will be attending in the fall, a school whose motto is Pro Humanitate (for humanity), reminds a sports mom and blogger that everyone involved in momsTEAM, whether as a contributor, parent or coach, is serving humanity as well in fighting for a safe, fun, and competitive youth sports experience for all of our kids.

Youth Sports and Life Lessons for Parents: The Art of Active Listening

For millions of households, March Madness has a double meaning.  On the one hand, it means from March 15 to early April, college basketball season is winding down with two weeks of frenzied fun culminating in the joy of triumph or painful disappoinment in defeat. The second meaning, at least for families such as mine, is that these same two weeks mark the final stages for a contemporaneous, possibly more emotional event:  college acceptance, rejection or placement on the wait-listed limbo-land.

Listening to a daughter's frustration about the college admission process, reminds a Virginia mom once again of the power of silent support and active listening learned as a sports parent.
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