A highly-anticipated event in National Championships Series history began on April 20! The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus recreation department hosted the first Spring Soccer Tournament. The tournament’s main purpose was to develop the student officials who were in attendance. This tournament was structured similarly to the regional and national tournaments that exist with basketball and flag football. We had eight total student officials attend who deserve special thanks:
- Noah Leonard, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Blake Montgomery, Kent State University
- Mike Moran, Kent State University
- Arun Pargal, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Andrea Shay, Kent State University
- Elizabeth Shinners, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Dustin Sturdivant, Stephen F. Austin University
- Andrew Wise, University of Illinois
All the students who attended came in with different experience levels but gained knowledge in game management, rule enforcement, and officiating 7v7. The Friday clinic was also a success due to our partnership with the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA). The Director of Instruction for NISOA, Todd Abraham, provided some much needed materials such as game film and presentations that they use with their officials to improve comprehensive knowledge. Without these materials, the tournament wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. We look forward to working with NISOA on regional and national tournaments in the future.
We had a student official attend this Region III event representing Region IV. Stephen, along with other student officials, expressed excitement and enthusiasm when asked about the opportunity. The students and staff were elated to see that an opportunity like this now exists within Series Soccer. They shared that in the past it was hard to find reasonable opportunities for them to grow as officials off campus due to financial constraints or limited availabilities. We’re hoping that this tournament marks the beginning of a larger program that helps NIRSA Soccer support the Championship Series as a whole.
This tournament is the result of a task force made of NIRSA members who are passionate about student officials development across the nation. It was successful because of the support this task force received from the NIRSA Services Corporation Board of Directors and the NIRSA Championship Series Committee. Let this serve as an extension of our sincere appreciation for the future forward attitude of those leaders. The task force was compiled of the following soccer enthusiasts:
- Laura Thomas, University of Alabama
- Nick Singer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Erik Jaeke, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Randall Ford, University of Texas at Austin
- Abbey Van Note, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Danny Feitel, University of California Merced
While we’re on the topic of appreciation, I can’t collect the words to express our appreciation to Nick Singer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served on the task force since the beginning and has been a pivotal contributor to our progress. When we first started talking about the idea to host a spring tournament to incorporate student officials development, he stepped up and offered to lead the charge. He offered to host and serve as a clinician to mold these young and eager minds. He has been instrumental in the success of this pilot program.
Where do we go from here?
Seeing that our efforts resulted in a successful Region III tournament this spring, the region has been selected to host again in Spring 2019. We’re working with the University of Illinois to set a date and begin work to ensure this tournament continues to enhance the knowledge of young officials as well as the staff who attend. The task force is also looking to grow this pilot program for Spring 2019. If you, or a NIRSA member you know, might be interested in supporting this charge by hosting a Spring 2019 soccer tournament, please let us know. There’s currently no formal application, but feel free to email Laura Thomas directly regarding your interest.
- For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of National Sport Programs Valerie McCutchan.