Brian Neal, Sports Editor
Brent Sumner, Tempo Editor
While intramural sports are a popular way to get involved on the campus of Lewis University, there is one job that is helping keep intramurals up and running. Lewis’ student officials work hard to make sure participants are following rules and keeping the sports safe.
“It is a rare atmosphere for intramurals in general,” said Adam Burkhart, assistant director of the Student Recreation and Fitness Center. “You don’t have a coach. Normally, if someone steps out of line, you are running next week or not playing the next game. When it comes to intramural sports, it is kind of chaos on the teams.”
The intramural staff saw an addition of 10 new officials, or “rookies” as Burkhart describes them, to the rosters, making sure they have enough eyes watching the games. One of the new staff members is Lewis freshman Petey Capron, a criminal justice major.
“I wanted to become a ref because I needed a job and I love sports,” said Capron. “I have gained some new friends through the reffing staff, and I have also gotten better with my communication skills.”
Applying for a position with the intramural staff is an extensive process, with students being required to go through an application process. After submitting an application online, they are reviewed by Burkhart, where they are selected and brought in for an interview with a panel of the staff members.
“Traditionally, we like to go off of if someone has umpiring experience, per say, it is a fantastic segway into the other officiating aspects,” said Burkhart. “A lot of guys that have played baseball or soccer officiate those sports. So, the ability to have that little bit of background is very beneficial.”
Before the sports open for competition, the staff goes through a thorough training period, which varies on the complexity of the sport. While dodgeball, soccer and hockey take one-night training sessions from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., larger events such as the basketball and flag football events take up to four nights.
The time includes going over a rules regiment, specifics within the intramural program and general gameplay aspects.
For the larger events, the officiating staff has a four-night training period including a two-hour tutorial video, positioning practice, hand-signal practice and two days of scrimmage games where the officials get supervised in their positions. All together, officials put in about 15 hours per week.
“I have learned a lot about teamwork in the workplace,” said Eric Schuler, veteran official. “It’s not like playing sports where the team has to come together for just one game. As officials we have to be cohesive through as many as five games a night, five nights a week while remaining professional and giving our ‘A’ game. Teamwork is essential.”
Intramural basketball will be starting today, and the officials have been training the past several days in preparation for the heated competition. Despite all of the hard work put into keeping educated on the rules and regulations, Schuler says that it is all worth it.
“My favorite part of officiating is getting students, faculty and staff involved whom might not get involved otherwise,” said Schuler. “Moreover, I really enjoy officiating teams comprised of freshmen or the rookies.”