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Green Bay Officials Association preps for high school football season

GBOA poses for a photo after they complete a training.

By Tori Wittenbrock

Sports Reporter

GREEN BAY – With the start of high school football season nearing, the Green Bay Officials Association (GBOA) has been preparing in a variety of ways.

“Since July, over 30 local officials have reviewed training videos, participated in three virtual learning sessions, and the GBOA conducted an on-field clinic August 2 at West De Pere High School. Officials are also working a scrimmage at Bay Port High School August 10 to prepare for the upcoming season,” said local football official Marc Shield.

The GBOA has been looking to recruit new officials to their squad, hoping to bolster involvement in the local athletic community.

Training and involvement

Involvement in the GBOA is great for the community, and scheduling is really flexible, according to Association President Tim Marquart.

“As a WIAA official, you are an independent contractor, so you can accept or decline games at your personal discretion. So how much game time officiating you do is really up to the individual and — of course — game availability,” said Marquart.

“Your initial training and preparation, which could include online training, camps or clinics, NFHS rules tests and WIAA rules video, can typically take anywhere from 10-20 hours to potentially several days if you go to skills camps. Up to and during the sports season(s) you work, you’re typically going to spend up to a couple hours a week managing “your business” as an official, and it certainly could be more if you participate in ongoing development and networking with other officials. All that’s in addition to whatever game load you choose to take on,” said Marquart.

A rewarding experience

In addition to the benefits that officiating creates for young athletes and the community, Marquart said that the experience can be exceptionally rewarding.

“Simply put, without officials, the games can’t be played! Having local people helps prevent officials from having to spend excessive time and money for travel and supports the youth sports opportunities within the community. It’s definitely a great way to give back to sports you may have enjoyed personally or learn something new and help provide positive academic based learning for student athletes in your community.”

The August 2 clinic that the association put on was hosted on the indoor football field at West De Pere High School. The clinic totaled 23 officials in attendance, as well as six training clinicians.

Seven of the officials that attended the clinic had less than a year of football officiating experience under their belts.

“They were given special attention on the very basics — whistle blowing, stopping/starting the clock, uniforms, gear, etc.,” said Marquart.

However, those with more experience were provided with more advanced training, including field positioning, movement, penalty enforcement, goal line, kicks and signaling mechanics.

Local officials prepare for the upcoming high school football season by training at a clinic hosted by the Green Bay Officials Association on Wednesday, Aug. 2, at West De Pere High School. Submitted photo

The clinic concluded with some friendly competitions, such as flag throwing at a target and ball toss relay.

Marquart said, “For many it was a chance to ‘knock some rust off’, but particularly for the new folks, it was to get them started, provide some mentorship and help them feel more comfortable before going on the field for live snaps.”

One of the most interesting parts of the Officials Association is how they help people to become more invested and involved in local youth sports, according to Marquart.

“The GBOA is a network of local sports officials that advocate, help develop and advance and recruit other area officials. We work — and play — together just like the other teams on the fields and courts we work on. Not only do our association members support local high school sports, but many of our members work youth and developmental games often in the sports’ normal ‘offseason’. By doing so, our members develop and invest a great deal in the up- and-coming youth in our community even before they’re playing at the high school levels!”

Influence on young athletes

While previous experience with youth sports is helpful, sometimes life experience and good values can be an even bigger help when it comes to learning about officiating.

“Local officials support the youth and development leagues and a large number of officials are, or have been, involved in coaching at various levels. Our best officials are great mentors for our youth and help develop strong citizens within the community through the various life lessons that can be learned by participating in sports: value of hard work, sportsmanship, discipline, how to handle winning and losing!”

Although officiating can be a huge adrenaline rush, there are also a few expectations of responsibility and integrity that accompany the role.

“Certainly, officials are expected to know and understand the rules for their sport(s). They’re expected to look the part and know where and when to be on the court/field, as well as know and use the proper mechanics for officiating at the level of that event. That’s where officials associations like ours can help you know and develop the skills to become certified and then continue to learn and develop throughout your officiating career.”

Marquart said that the influence good officiating can have on a young athlete is irreplaceable and can establish a prominent role model for them.

“Quality officials are often just like classroom teachers in the extension of the classroom that is academic based sports. Therefore, they can provide positive role modeling and often demonstrate how to work through conflict and frustration. Officials can help young athletes understand the game better and therefore how to perform better personally and as part of a team. Demonstrating the value of good person-to-person communication and helping establish the importance of functioning within the rules of the game, which obviously helps prepare them for life in general.”

“Officials find personal rewards in many ways, but the two biggest rewards cited by the majority of officials is the feeling of giving back to the community and the sport(s) they love, and the other big one comes from being a part of the officiating community itself. If you know any official(s), you’ll likely find that they really enjoy the camaraderie of working with their fellow officials, often followed closely by the sense of pride they have in supporting the local youth and community,” said Marquart.

In addition to providing football officiating training, GBOA also supports officials in volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball.

For anyone who is interested in the Green Bay Officials Association, or for additional questions about local high school officiating, visit GBOA.org for more information.

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