Edison offering students OHSAA officiating classes

RICHMOND — JoAnn Stagani has sat in on plenty of OVAC and OHSAA meetings, consistently hearing about the dire need for officials in all of high school sports.

The Edison athletic director is preparing to help do her part to increase the number of officials.

After consistently talking to Edison administrators, Stagani was given the green light to explore offering officiating classes at the high school during the upcoming school year.

“We continually asked (Superintendent) Bill (Beattie) and (Principal) Matt (Morrison) about it and they agreed and have changed my whole teaching assignment,” Stagani said. “It’s exciting to be able to offer this. I am looking forward to diving into the material and getting things organized.”

According to Stagani, more than 30 students have signed up for the class, which will be broken up across two semesters.

“Each class will be 18 weeks,” Stagani said.

The Edison class will allow its students to become OHSAA sanctioned in any sport that the school offers, including football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball and track and field.

“When we had our move-up day at the end of the (school) year, we talked to the kids and there were a few for all of the sports,” Stagani said. “So far, the sports with the most interest are baseball, softball and soccer.”

Edison becomes the second school in the immediate area to offer officiating courses for academic credit. It’s growing more and more popular throughout the Buckeye State.

Barnesville is the other Ohio Valley school offering a class, but it’s strictly providing the opportunity to become a basketball official.

Originally, Stagani was concerned that she wouldn’t be qualified to teach the class. While she’s the athletic administrator at Edison, she’s not a registered official in any sport. There was a belief that the OHSAA required a sanctioned official to teach the courses.

“I was in panic mode,” Stagani said. “I went out to Columbus and me with (OHSAA Assistant Director of Officiating and Sport Management) Ben Ferree and he said, I was ‘totally able to teach it.'”

At that time, Stagani received all of the materials needed for the courses, including rulebooks, paperwork, etc.

Often times, when adults take the officiating courses, they’re covered in a much shorter time frame to assure the officials are registered for the upcoming seasons. However, since the courses Edison will be offering are for academic credit, Stagani will stretch the classes out during 18 weeks, covering different topics each group within groups based on what sport the students are pursuing.

“One week we might cover rules, uniforms, situations, etc.,” Stagani said. “The students will take the official tests that everyone else who wants to be an official will take and they’ll have two tries to earn a passing score.”

Stagani also plans to utilize the students in actual sport settings throughout the course. For instance, those who are wishing to become a volleyball official will help out at Wildcats’ matches as line judges or in other capacities. As the semester winds down and winter sports begin, Stagani envisions the students helping the already sanctioned officials at basketball scrimmages and the same for into the spring.

Also similar to adults, who opt to become an official, the students will pay for the course. Since it’s being offered in a classroom setting for credit, the OHSAA offers the course for $35 per sport.

“I made sure that I explained that the fee for taking this course would be made back basically after they worked their first event,” Stagani said.

Realizing that the cost might still be a strain on some of the students, Stagani has actually started looking for sponsorships for some of the fees.

“I asked some of the officials groups, figuring that in the long run, it’s going to end up being a benefit to them as much as the kid,” Stagani said.

Upon completion of the course, the students are fully certified in Ohio to officiate lower-level games, which include junior high and jayvee. They do, however, become responsible for attending their local rules meetings, which is an OHSAA requirement.

Stagani pointed out that most of the students are athletes, so even if they opt not to officiate immediately, the enhanced knowledge will pay dividends for their respective sport.

“I think it will provide the students with a different mindset toward officials and the things they may sometimes get upset about,” Stagani said.

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