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Student referees at UWRF learn that officiating is fun, but not always easy

Falcon News Service

March 23, 2016

As college becomes increasingly expensive, many students get some sort of job to help pay for it. One job that attracts students on the University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus is refereeing.

Nearly 60 students are employed by Campus Recreation to officiate intramural games every year. They work mainly in the evening and nights, and make intramural games possible for students to enjoy.

Ryan Rudesill, assistant director of Campus Recreation, said a student can become a referee for intramural sports by completing an online application, attending a meeting and then begin training. According to the online application, students “can work any number of sports they desire as long as they are in attendance for all training sessions leading into the start of the sport.”

Rudesill pointed out that although the job is fun because it gives students the opportunity to revisit sports they love and may have played previously, it’s not always the easiest.

“I think a lot of it, too, for students, is leading their peers for the first time. It’s sometimes not the easiest thing,” he said. “Some of them learn right away that it’s a lot harder than they want it to be.”

However, according to student referee Jill Gangl, having to make calls during games gave her a lot of confidence.

“You get so many people questioning you and yelling at you that you just learn how to stick up for yourself, and stick up for the rules,” she said.

Gangl also found there was a reason that so many people get into refereeing on campus — and stick to the job.

“I think that once students start they kind of get hooked on the atmosphere around it,” she explained. “You’re meeting other people from the school, plus you have a tight group of officials that you hang out with that you see three to four times a week.”

UWRF junior Courtney Kanipes agreed with Gangl, but explained why so many students get into the job in the first place.

“I feel like a big reason a lot of us start is just the ease of being on campus and it’s a job you can get to start off right away instead of worrying about finding something in town and not being flexible with hours and stuff like that,” she said.

One student got his start as a referee off campus, but then decided to add intramural refereeing to his workload because of its flexibility. Reggie Larson, a health and physical education major, has been a ref for two years. He began by officiating elementary school tournaments on the weekend, but has since worked at junior varsity tournaments for local high schools. What drew him in was the money, he said, while doing something he loves.

Although Larson loves what he does, he said that not many people realize how much goes in to officiating games.

“There’s a lot more to it than you would initially think. People think just because they played four years of basketball in high school that they can be a ref and that’s really not the case,” he said. “There’s so much more from a mechanical standpoint that a lot of people do not understand that takes a little bit to learn.”

One student who had Larson as a referee, Ian Porten, said he felt that Larson knew the rules very well and didn’t allow his personal connections to the players get in his way of officiating.

“He definitely knew his rules and he was definitely not biased in any way, even though we’re friends. He definitely called fouls against me,” Porten said. “He reffed it really well, and I thought he did a good job.”

Larson added that officiating sports is something he could see himself doing after leaving UW-River Falls thanks to the experience he’s gained from working on campus.

“As long as there’s a demand for me to do it, I think I could see myself doing it as long as I’m still enjoying it,” he said.

Students may apply for officiating jobs throughout the year. Information about Campus Recreation student employment opportunities is available on the UWRF website at http://bit.ly/1MlYQtP.