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There’s always a need for officials

Charles Whisnand column

High school officials in Northern Nevada are like hours in the day: There’s always a need for more.

As Northern Nevada enters another fall sports season, the shortage of officials can’t be referred to, yet as a crisis situation. There will be enough officials to cover all the fall sports of football, volleyball and soccer, but they will be spread thin.

“In general there’s an overall need for officials,” said Carson City’s Jerry Gribble, who is the commissioner for Northern Nevada football officials.

There are 68 officials on the roster, but there are generally about 60 officials available every week to work high school games, Gribble said.

“We could probably use another five to 10 officials to be comfortable,” Gribble said. “We’re always looking for good officials.”

There’s also an urgent need for Pop Warner officials. There are enough officials to cover games in Carson City and Douglas County, but there is a shortage of officials in Reno and Sparks.

As of the beginning of this week, there was also no officials for games in Fallon and Fernley. The Pop Warner season begins on Saturday with the Jamboree at Don Mello Sports Complex in Sparks and there’s still a need for officials for that event.

Anyone interested in officiating Pop Warner games should call Chris Whitbeck, 849-3666.

Gribble said some officials bow out because of problems with coaches, players, parents and fans. But Gribble said the biggest reason why it’s difficult to retain officials is because of the time demands.

“Once an official starts, the commitment that we require sometimes becomes too much,” Gribble said. “For the most part if they love the game, they’ll stay with it. It’s getting tougher to recruit officials because it requires the time.”

Northern Nevada soccer officials commissioner Jay Beesemyer and Northern Nevada volleyball officials commissioner Ellen Townsend agreed that time demands make it difficult to retain officials.

As far as sportsmanship, that’s really not a problem, Gribble said.

“I think it’s getting better,” said Gribble about sportsmanship at games. “Poor sportsmanship is not as evident as it might have been in the past. I think overall sportsmanship has been improved greatly.”

One area that officials will crack down on this year is the use of profanity, Gribble said. He said officials have been told in the past not to tolerate the use of profanity against an opponent, but this year an emphasis will be placed on the use of profanity in general.

Gribble, though, said that area has also improved. “That’s becoming less and less a problem every year,” said Gribble about the use of profanity.

The biggest concern in fall sports appears to be in soccer where it looks like there will not be enough officials to have three officials at every game.

Beesemyer said when there are only two officials to cover a game, more calls become missed.

“It’s the calls that are missed that gets everyone upset,” Beesemyer said.

He also said when there are three officials to cover a game, it becomes “less contintous.”

Bessemyer said if you’re a good soccer official and available, you’ll work all the time; if you’re a so-so official and you’re available, you’ll work all the time; if you’re a lousy official and you’re available, you’ll probably work all the time.

“We never have enough officials,” Beesemyer said. “We’re always looking for officials. There’s always a need.”

Townsend said there are 30 volleyball officials, but as many as 40 are needed. She said if there were five or six more officials “that didn’t have to start from scratch, that would be great.”

“We can always use more officials,” she said. “Every year we seem to have officials who don’t want to do it again.

“We’re losing officials who have a lot of experience. It starts to snowball. Every year we seem to get by. It’s a little tight sometimes.”

Anyone interested in officiating can call Gribble, (775) 882-3004, Beesemyer, (775) 688-6464 or Townsend, (775) 828-4144.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor. He can be reached via e-mail at appeal@swiftnews.com.