The calendar flipping to August signals the time of the year where our lives as recreational professionals start to get a little busier. The planning process is coming to an end and the implementation process is starting to begin. New graduate assistants and second-year graduate assistants are gearing up for what will be another important year of experience in their development. Student staff lists are updated, new equipment is purchased, and—most importantly—the students have begun their return!
The turn to August also signifies the return of regional and national championships for flag football and soccer. NIRSA is currently accepting applications for regional flag football directors and staff positions. In addition to those positons, NIRSA is also accepting national soccer staff positions and national soccer officials assignor/assistant director of officials positions. Last month, I challenged young professionals to take advantage of these opportunities, and this is your first chance. I would encourage others to apply as well because these tournaments utilize a number of talented people in different areas. Even those who don’t play sports but are social media experts or assessment die-hards can find ways to assist with the tournaments.
If volunteering isn’t in the air for you this year, another great way of supporting the Championship Series is supporting Student Official’s Development. Through officiating, students build skills like conflict resolution, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. Young officials who participate in NIRSA’s training become lifelong sports fans who give back to their communities both on and off the field. So please consider donating today and supporting this wonderful aspect of the Series.
In other news, the locations for the 2018 regional basketball championships have been selected.
- Region I: the University of Maryland and the University of Massachusetts–Amherst
- Region II: Georgia Southern University, East Carolina University, Middle Tennessee State University, and the University of Florida
- Region III: The University of Dayton and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
- Region IV: Texas A&M University
- Region V: the University of Nebraska–Lincoln
- Region VI: Sacramento State University and Eastern Washington University
A complete list of the dates and locations of the regional basketball championships are available here. Applications for staff positions for these tournaments will be available mid-October.
Speaking of tournaments, I would be remiss if I did not mention the recent events surrounding Adidas and LaVar Ball. I will not rehash the details of the events, but a Google search would yield many results about what transpired. I only bring Ball up to add context to the following thoughts.
Each year we are tasked with providing evidence that proves what we’re doing for student development is working. For me, the incident with Ball is a prime example of a situation many of our student officials have to deal with. It may not be an overzealous coach, but they encounter many situations where the transferable skills they’ve learned can help them solve a problem. After dealing with someone in a heated sporting environment and being successful, all other situations do not seem as daunting.
I think we can all agree that communication is one of the keys to most, if not all, tough situations. Our hope is that if our students learn only one thing from us, it’s this! This is why what we do is so important in the development of future officials. They are taught very early in their careers that it is not always about winning the debate but about making sure all parties involved are heard in a timely manner and a resolution is reached in the same time frame.
As my former graduate assistant used to teach our students, always communicate with people as adults. Do not try to be overly sympathetic or condescending, or, even worse, stoop to their level and behave like a child and compound the matter. The ability of our students to actively listen and come to a firm but fair solution is what sets them up for success in the future whether they choose to continue officiating or not.