A Narrower Scope to Target New Officials

October 12, 2012

By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor

Several years ago, MHSAA schools received thousands of postcards imploring graduating student-athletes to “Stay in the Game” by registering as contest officials.

A miniscule portion of that quantity found its way back to 1661 Ramblewood Drive. It’s a better bet you are reading this issue of benchmarks on the rest, in the form of recycled paper.

The plan for 2012-13, then, was to move away from the mass marketing approach and narrow the scope with the help of school administrators. Each MHSAA member school athletic director was sent a memo last May, along with two registration invitations. The memo simply asked the ADs to identify two officiating candidates from the senior class and deliver the special registration form. Completed forms were returned to the MHSAA, which not only waived all sign-up fees for the student’s first year, but also set the rookies up with local associations and training opportunities.

“We took this approach as a more measured strategy knowing that officiating is not for everyone,” said MHSAA Assistant Director Mark Uyl. “Instead of marketing to everyone, we hoped that ADs would give serious time and thought in selecting two graduating seniors who seemed best equipped in terms of personality and comportment for officiating.”

Uyl set a modest goal of attracting 50 new officials through this program, and the Association is nearly halfway there at this printing, as 22 young men and women will make their first calls during the 2012-13 season.

Or, at least their first calls at the high school level. One of the “rookies” is Jake Hodges, who co-captained Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett to the 2012 MHSAA Division 3 Ice Hockey title.

“I have been a USA Hockey ref for six years, and I plan to continue in college. It is good income,” said Hodges, who  also plans to work lacrosse. “I had planned to register anyway so the free registration was great. I expect to work often and continue to be a solid ref.  I also played lacrosse for four years and think that will allow for a good transition.”

The process has culled candidates from Michigan’s cities, suburbs and rural areas, from below and above the Mackinac Bridge.

“I have always been interested in officiating. The biggest incentive was the free registration,” said Negaunee’s Kevin Price, who registered in baseball, softball and basketball. “I hope this year will be a learning experience as I work games with long-time officials. As a player, I got to know many officials and we have become friends. The local officials in my area have done a great job giving me advice on my upcoming ‘rookie’ season.”

Many students registered for more than one sport, with a high of seven sports for Montrel Hill of Melvindale.

Early returns give Uyl and the MHSAA reason for optimism.

“We will continue this incentive plan again next year as we try to grow the pool of new, young officials,” Uyl said.

PHOTO: Jake Hodges (center) hoists the MHSAA Division 3 championship trophy after his Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett team claimed the title in March. 

NOTE: This is the third installment in the series "Making – and Answering – the Call" detailing the careers and service of MHSAA officials. Click the links below to view the two. 

Be the Referee: Softball Interference

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

June 6, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Softball Interference - Listen

We’re on the softball diamond today for a “You Make the Call.”

Runners are on the corners with no outs. The batter hits the first pitch in the air and into foul territory near the first-base line.

The runner on first interferes with the first basewoman attempting to make the catch, and the ball falls to the ground.

What’s the call?

  • Is it the runner on first and the batter are out?
  • The batter is out and the runner stays at first?
  • Or the ball is dead immediately, the runner on first is out and the batter is charged with a foul ball?

If you said the ball is dead immediately when the interference takes place and that the runner is out, with the batter returning to the batter’s box with a one-strike count … you made the right call!

Previous Editions:

May 30: Officials Registration - Listen
May 23: Soccer Offsides or Goal? -
May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO by Gary Shook.