One problem that officials can face is being unable to find dependable support, which is needed for a wide variety of reasons. For example, you need a problem resolved at the top of your local association, but no one returns your phone call. It seems like you are all alone. Who do you turn to? Similar to a situation when you are not advancing, it is recommended that you cultivate leadership within your association to have the most positive experience. If that doesn’t work, changing associations is an option.

Mike McCarron, a San Francisco and Bay Area football official who has worked other sports, headed his local association for four years and can relate to the frustration officials feel when something doesn’t get resolved. Talk to others, he advised, and see if you can develop a consensus on the problem. You can also go to the board, particularly if you know/trust someone at that level.

“Usually, if you’re having a problem, someone else is having a similar problem,” he said. For example, it could be the desire to get more or better quality games. In that case, McCarron would give direct feedback to officials on what they needed to improve. “My military background helps in providing feedback. I might suggest they try something new to get outside their comfort zone.”

Similarly, Kelly Witt, an NCAA soccer official, suggested finding someone else in the association to talk with if you get no response from your first inquiry. “If you don’t see eye-to-eye, you may look into other associations,” she suggested. Witt works with multiple contractors, but acknowledged that option isn’t feasible for everyone, particularly due to travel constraints, so she also encouraged officials to “speak up for yourself.”

“Communication is the key both on and off the court,” Bargo added. “Be involved in lots of associations, if you can. Let them know your personal goals so they can help prepare you for opportunities, then be willing to listen to their response.

“Just listening” is critical, she continued. “Opportunities will present themselves if you’re willing to listen.”

Chuck Walters, a high school baseball umpire from Jackson, Mich., suggested a quick look in the mirror for officials frustrated with their association, particularly over a game schedule.

“We’ll (association) offer to go out they’re not getting the games they think they should,” Walters said.

He also recommended all officials continue attending camps and clinics to stay up-to-speed on changes and the most recent techniques.

“You’re behind otherwise,” he said. “You’re slipping and those things hurt you if you’re not moving up. It’s also a chance to be seen by assigners.”

Officiating can be a solitary endeavor. Reaching out not only builds bonds but also lets you know you’re not alone.

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