Every spring lacrosse season, Terry Farrell and Ruth Rineer are responsible for assigning referees to officiate the many games across high school varsity and junior varsity levels, plus local youth leagues.
Farrell does so on the boys side with games in the Lancaster-Lebanon and Berks leagues. Rineer works on the girls side for games in the L-L.
Both are also veteran high school lacrosse referees themselves. So they are two of the area’s most knowledgeable people on the topic of finding and developing lacrosse referees.
LNP conducted a Q&A with Farrell and Rineer to better shine a light on the growing need of lacrosse officials.
How do you go about recruiting people to become lacrosse referees?
Farrell: “We run an ad in the newspaper when we start our training classes over the winter. Then it is word of mouth and actively recruiting officials from other sports in other seasons. There are other avenues, but we have not received much response in those areas.”
Rineer: “We have tried all kinds of methods. We’ve advertised in the paper, we’ve advertised at gyms. We’ve put out fliers. We’ve posted on all of the websites — PIAA, US Lacrosse, our chapter website. Word of mouth. People who are in sports, that’s the best way we’ve gotten officials.”
What would you say to someone who might be interested in officiating but is unfamiliar with lacrosse?
Farrell: “Most people are fairly unfamiliar with lacrosse. Our chapter is willing to invest the time and effort if they are. We have a great group of people that help each other.”
Rineer: “US Lacrosse offers excellent training and mentoring programs and follow-up help. No background in lacrosse is needed.”
What’s the most important thing officials need to learn and understand for your sport?
Farrell: “To know and understand that most everyone affiliated with the game doesn’t know the rules and that coaches and parents have an emotional stake in the outcome even more so than the players. Lacrosse more than any other sport has a rule-book that allows for an official to escalate their calls and to enforce rules that allow for a better flow of the game.”
Rineer: “This answer isn’t just for our sport of lacrosse, it’s for all officials: How to keep the players safe and call a fair and consistent game. That is achieved easier if the coaches and fans let new officials grow and learn without constant comments and input. The questions and clarifications are great and needed for everyone to grow together, but the badgering can be discouraging and distracting.”
There’s much provided to rookie referees to lower the barrier of entry, such as offering training at little or no cost, or the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of US Lacrosse cutting a $100 check to new boys referees this season to help offset the purchasing of referee gear. But is there anything more that could be done to attract people to become referees?
Farrell: “Moving to night games has helped. It is tough to find people to work 4 p.m. games. Also, the game of lacrosse was built on a foundation of tradition and respect. I have been around the game for around 45 years and the way that aspect of the game has degraded over the past 10 to 15 years is a travesty. Most people don’t want to put up with what officials do for the peanuts that officials work for. I think this holds true for all sports.”
Rineer: “Help from the local schools — free classrooms to teach in and support on the sidelines of all games as well as recruitment at the schools. I’m not speaking of the athletic directors — we have great ADs across the board — I’m talking administrative and school boards.”