Just because the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary halt to work at Referee’s physical offices hasn’t meant a stop to the work of putting out a magazine and staying on top of other publications. Staff members are hard at work from home, where they’re staying on top of things for Referee and, where applicable, outside officiating. Here’s a quick peek behind the scenes:

Jeffrey Stern, senior editor

“As I sit in my home workspace, I think about how we’d have gotten along had this occurred before Teams and VPN and the other marvels that have allowed us to continue to do our jobs. Mostly, though, my heart aches for all of the officials, assigners and vendors whose lives have been negatively affected, whether through death, illness or financial loss. Things will return to “normal” eventually but surely they will never be the same.”

Brent Killackey, managing editor

“Abruptly shifting our magazine and book production to a work-from-home environment has had its challenges, but the staff is doing an amazing job getting everything done. We’ve sent the latest issue of Referee magazine off to the printer on schedule. On the officiating front…well, there are no baseball games to call yet. The Wisconsin Umpire Association training for new high school and youth umpires had all but finished ahead of the state’s stay-at-home orders. But a Little League training program I also help with didn’t time out as well — but they’re planning to finish by shifting to video training later this month. So the preparation for the season ahead continues — and, hopefully, there will be an opportunity for these new umpires to put their new training into action.”

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Joe Jarosz, account manager

“Doing our part in lessening the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has rendered a temporary break for our in-person, daily collaboration. Our service to the officiating industry, however, remains second-to-none in this difficult time. The education, training and advocacy efforts continue as strong as ever and I am proud to be a part of such an amazing team at Referee and NASO. In my personal officiating endeavors, without live spring sporting events the focus has turned to preparation for the summer and fall. Regular phone calls, rules interpretation email threads and weekly video conference calls allow me to stay connected to my fellow officials and officiating crews. As with all of you, I cannot wait to get back out there!”

Luke Modrovsky, assistant editor

“Working from home — especially as a new addition to the Referee/NASO team — has both its advantages and disadvantages. After just one day in the office — on what some might argue was the strangest first day ever — was a shift into the virtual world and eventually a trip back to Pennsylvania to be reconnected with my family. As a five-sport official, my officiating world is usually non-stop, but that’s obviously changed. It’s been nice to have additional time to spend at home with family, but I do miss the camaraderie of working with other officials. I’ve been a part of several virtual training opportunities, particularly on the football side, in trying to stay ready for an eventual season. I’m looking forward to getting back to Wisconsin knowing that all of us will be needed soon.”

Brad Tittrington, associate editor

“Shifting to the virtual world has been both challenging and rewarding. It has afforded me more family time and allowed for more time to connect with officials who normally would be busy at this time. Not being around the staff and wonderful people who work at Referee has been challenging as I miss the day-to-day interactions bantering about rules and mechanics. Thankfully, we still have Microsoft Teams and can access each other to provide some relief. On the officiating side, I lost my entire collegiate softball schedule, which has been difficult. I have tried to connect with other umpires and my partners who I won’t get to call ball with this spring. Trying to stay positive and hopefully we will all be back on the diamonds and courts soon doing the things we are so passionate about.”

Scott Tittrington, associate editor

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each of us at Referee differently, based on our respective duties as employees, officials and, in some cases, as sports participants or spectators ourselves. Unfortunately, I have taken one of the biggest hits on the officiating side, given my work as a college and high school baseball umpire. I lost out on what would have been my first NCAA Division-II assignment, a four-game series, as well as having my entire slate of NCAA D-III and junior college games canceled. I also work high school games in both Illinois and Wisconsin, two states where no games were played prior to safer-at-home orders being issued. One silver lining is I’ve had the opportunity to delve deeper into some feature writing assignments here at the magazine, sharing the stories of others in our avocation and how the response to this virus has affected them. I’ve shared much more quality time with my wife, who is a nurse and one of the true heroes helping to battle this pandemic on the front lines, and my two new co-workers (my two dogs). I’ve also managed to even save a little bit of money by delving into our recipe file (I love to cook) and eating at home more often.”

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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