This fall, several USF students traveled to universities across the nation to officiate regional Flag Football tournaments.
Brent Haskill, who works as an Intramural Sports supervisor for USF Campus Recreation was one of the student officials who represented USF at the Swamp Bowl tournament at the University of Florida in October.
Fellow IM supervisor Roger Jerez also represented USF when he officiated the Nebraska Region V Flag Football Tournament in November.
Both have learned many things in their combined seven years of Flag Football officiating experience.
“Flag Football, and officiating in general, gives you a great perspective on the game,” Haskill said. “What makes officiating different [from playing] is the time you spend learning the actual rules.”
Thanks to their superior performance at their respective tournaments, both students received bids from NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation to officiate the National Championship Series Flag Football Tournament in Pensacola, Florida.
“NIRSA provides a great opportunity for students from around the country to meet up in the same location for a weekend and talk about something we all love, officiating,” Haskill said.
Both students believe the best way for people to get better at officiating is through practice.
“Preparation equals experience,” Haskill said. “You can sit down and talk about positioning, rules, etc., but overall you just have to get out there and work games.”
Jerez agrees. To prepare himself, he attended advanced trainings every Sunday night. He also worked on his mechanics on video and in front of a mirror to ensure he was as close to perfect as he could get.
Haskill believes in the beginning it is all about making sure you are in the right place on the field. Then once that is mastered, officials can start watching for other things such as contact, and eventually work their way up to the ‘401 level’ of officiating, which includes talking with players and understanding team tendencies.
Officiating positions at both tournaments were limited and only available to the best of the best. At Jerez’s tournament, 36 student officials were competing for four available spots.
Although both officials have several years of experience under their belts, both believe they still have some preparation to do before they take the field at the national tournament.
Jerez said he has to continue working on his mechanics and studying the rulebook to ensure he is ready. Haskill concurs.
“Having a complete understanding of the game lets you walk on the field with an amazing sense of confidence,” Haskill said.
Haskill and Jerez will represent USF as officials at the NIRSA National Flag Football Championships Jan. 2 – 4, 2015 at the University of West Florida.