Local football board seeks officials for fall

The Marines aren’t the only ones looking for a few good men.

The Ohio-W.Va. Football Officials Board finds itself short-handed heading into the fall season.

While their ranks have been as high as 80-plus members, they’re down to 58. Considering they officiate youth, middle school, junior varsity and varsity games in the Little Kanawha Conference, the Mountain State Athletic Conference and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, their plight is obvious.

Plus, many of those in the organization are aging. Some new blood is needed.

“We’re down 20 to 25 people,” said veteran official Larry McCloy. “We’re trying to work games in three different conferences and we don’t have the numbers.”

Anyone interested in becoming a football official is encouraged to attend a class conducted by McCloy beginning at 6 p.m. on July 14 at the Mary Lou Hague Arts and Sports Complex at Parkersburg High School. The class runs from Monday through Thursday for two weeks as a minimum of 25 hours of training is required to become a football official.

For those who would like to give it a try, the veteran officials will do everything to teach you the rules and how you apply them. They’ll allow you to work some practice scrimmages with them to get your feet wet and won’t send you out into the line of fire of a real game until you are ready.

Officials make approximately $35 for youth games, $45-50 for junior varsity contests and from $75 to $80 for high school varsity games.

While the money can help supplement an official’s income, talk to veteran officials and they’ll tell you the biggest reward isn’t monetary, but rather it is working with young people.

Those who officiate youth games make it a point not only to explain the rules to younger players, but also to encourage them in their effort to learn to play the game. They offer words of encouragement during the games. They explain the rules so those who violate them will understand what they did and hopefully won’t make the same mistake again.

Mike Williams, a member of the Ohio-West Virginia’ officials board of directors, has seen games from both the sidelines as a youth coach for a decade and as an official since 2000.

“I thought I knew the rules,” Williams said of his time as a coach. “I thought I knew football. Then, I got into officiating and found out I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.”

Whether you know little about football or can recite the rulebook from cover to cover, the Ohio-West Virginia officials board would love for you to join their ranks.

If not, there’s always the Marines.