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HS notebook: Shortage of officials a growing problem

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Section 10 is sounding the alarm that recruitment of sports officials is a priority.

“We’re not at a point where we’ve had to cancel games, but we’ve had to reschedule or change the times,” said Carl Normandin, executive director of Section 10 athletics. “We sometimes have to use fewer officials than what’s appropriate for modified and JV games. But we can’t do that for varsity games which, by regulation, must have a full complement or the game must be postponed or the time changed.

“Certain sports are in dire need like girls lacrosse in Section 10 and gymnastics and field hockey in other sections. It’s not just Section 10. It’s a statewide problem.”

Andy Devins is the officials assignor for girls lacrosse and volleyball in Section 10.

“We really need people, especially in Franklin County because we have teams playing in Section 10 like Salmon River, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, and we have few officials in those areas. Most of our girls lacrosse officials are on the other side of St. Lawrence County,” Devins said.

“Volleyball is less of a problem. It’s spread out because they now play every night of the week. But in some sports, many games are scheduled on the same day of the week and no games are scheduled on Saturday.”

Dick Bennett is the assignor for boys and girls basketball.

“On certain nights when we get into the thick of the regular season in January and early February, when we have makeups because we’ve had bad weather, it’s a problem. But it’s always good to bring in new blood regardless of the numbers.”

Normandin says there are a lot of benefits to officiating.

“It’s a way to give back to a sport they enjoy, a way to stay involved in sports for former players, and if someone enjoys working with kids, it’s a good opportunity,” he said. “I can see in the future if we can’t recruit more officials it will be a problem. The population of officials is getting older and we’re going to need to replace their experience and knowledge.”

Officials are paid between $50 and $75 plus mileage for games, but Bennett pointed out another benefit.

“You develop a lot of good relationships through officiating, relationships with other officials and with coaches and players.

“Former players come up to you years after they play and they appreciate what you’ve done. And that’s a good feeling. And there’s great camaraderie with the other officials and coaches. It’s very rewarding.”

Meanwhile, the Watertown Chapter of Certified Football Officials have helped out their Section 10 brethren in the past.

“I haven’t talked to anybody on that board this year, I don’t really know just how bad it is,” Watertown chapter president Robert VanCoughnett said. “But I think we’re all in the same boat, though. We need officials and we need people to come out and help out if they can.”

The number of trained and available football officials in the Watertown area is definitely an issue, VanCoughnett said.

“We’re trying to maintain our numbers through attrition because we have older members retiring,” he said. “Basically everyone seems to have busy schedules, so finding enough officials to fill our game needs for the schools that we service on a weekly basis is a challenge. We’ve got a good group of people right now and we’re doing everything we can to increase our numbers.”

“It’s an issue, we do rely occasionally on our sister boards — from the Section 3 board, the Mohawk Valley board and the Syracuse board. If someone is running short, we put the call in to other board and they help us cover games,” VanCoughnett added. “We’ve gone up and helped Section 10 officials. It’s a constant battle.”

Football officials in the Watertown region are kept busy throughout the season.

“Our numbers are tight this year,” VanCoughnett said. “We had a fellow who went down with a sore ankle a couple of weeks ago ... things like that put a bind on us because we’re all officiating a lot of games.

“We’re definitely looking to recruit and get more people involved.”

Normandin can be contacted at his office at (315) 386-4504, extension 15103.

RUNNING BEARS BATTLE INJURIES

The Canton Central girls cross country team began the season with high hopes, with even talk of a shot at a Class C state championship.

But Canton’s top four runners — Laura Pierce, Maria Ricalton, and Gemma and Rebecca Delrossi — have all been hobbled with injuries.

The Bears dropped their first meet of the season and, now into October ,still do not have their regular lineup intact.

“It’s been really frustrating. I’ve tried to be really patient. There’s a lot of talent,” Canton coach Tom Van DeWater said.

Pierce is getting back in form after suffering soreness and won the large school race at the E.J. Hermann Invitational in Utica last week. Ricalton is almost recovered from a stress fracture suffered last spring and has begun cross training. Gemma Delrossi has competed in one race this year with a tendon issue. Rebecca Delrossi has run a few meets while dealing with a muscle injury, but she is expected back near full strength in a week or so.

Van de Water does not want his runners to return too soon and end up with more problems. “We have to remember that this a long-term thing,” he said. “Many of these girls want to run some day in college.”

BOYS SOCCER ADDED TO TWC

Speaking of state championships, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel has been televising New York State football since 2003, but has now signed a 10-year agreement with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to add other sports’ championships to its lineup.

This year, in addition to football, state tournaments in boys soccer (all five classes live) and girls tennis (tape delay) will be shown. Within the next few years, all 32 championship events will be either televised or broadcast on the internet.

Tournament schedules, sites and results can be found on NYSPHSAA’s newly revamped website (www.nysphsaa.org). Time Warner SportsChannel is available on HD on channel 323 in central New York, serving St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties.

Times sportswriter Chris Fitz Gerald contributed to this report.

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