Rossford, Eastwood offering officiating classes


ROSSFORD — Rossford High School students are being offered an opportunity to find out what it’s really like to be a sports official.

RHS will begin offering a six-week officiating class for high school students starting this fall as part of its physical education curriculum.

Rossford is not the first — Eastwood and other schools have been offering the classes since last year when the Ohio High School Athletic Association began partnering with RefReps, which offers an online application.

Rossford will offer volleyball officiating classes the first six weeks of the upcoming school year, basketball the second six weeks, and then an option for baseball or softball classes.

The Rossford program is being pushed by curriculum director Mark Swavel and former boys basketball coach Brian Vorst is overseeing it.

“We’re just getting it off the ground,” said Vorst, who retired two years ago after 18 years coaching basketball but remains on as a teacher at RHS.

“It’s partly because we are looking for more electives for out students — that is No. 1,” Vorst said. “I’ve been on them for about five, six years, that this is a good opportunity.

“When our kids go to college, No. 1, they always want to make money and No. 2, there are rec leagues and stuff like that they can officiate. They can even officiate little kids’ leagues.

“So it is an opportunity for the kids once they get out of high school, even into college, just to officiate a little bit,” continued Vorst.

The OHSAA partnered with the National Federation of High School Sports, which originally had 32 state associations on board.

“The NFHS has employed a number of initiatives in an effort to recruit and retain more individuals to officiate high school sports, and we believe this is another step in meeting the needs of these individuals,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS chief executive officer.

Kyle Armstrong, RefReps founder and chief executive officer said, “According to a 2022 NFHS survey, approximately 50,000 high school sports officials discontinued their service between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons.”

Vorst admits he hasn’t always been a best friend to officials during the course of his coaching career, but he understands how important they are to the success of high school athletics and officials have earned his respect.

“Everyone knows the officiating pool is diminishing rapidly. It is a thankless job,” Vorst said. “God knows nobody has ran more officials out of Northwest Ohio than I have, I fear.

“What’s funny is when I got out of coaching a couple years ago, I heard from more officials, ‘Congrats, we’re sad to see you go, blah, blah, blah, hope you have a good time,’ than I did from other coaches, which is kind of surprising to me as hard as I was on some of them.

“But, you know, you build that relationship with them and you see them. Like, I saw (one official) seven, eight times a year, where I see (former Otsego coach) Jim Bostdorff twice a year and maybe at the league meeting — that’s it.”

Another perspective

There is another reason why students should learn about officiating, Vorst says — the athletes may understand better what is involved from an officials’ perspective.

“I think, too, for some of the higher level kids, like some of the good varsity kids, it kind of gives you a good insight to what the officials are seeing and why you think what you are doing is legal when this is why it is not. I’m kind of hoping it will be a tool for the athletes as well, to learn,” Vorst said.

Vorst says once they complete the class, they can go to work officiating almost immediately, plus they will earn a physical education credit.

“This is going to give practicum for them because they get to watch stuff online, they take the test, and we are going to require that they go out and officiate — whether it is a youth game, a rec game, even if they go out to Toledo Volleyball Club and officiate a tournament, even as line judges, to get their feet wet in it,” Vorst said.

“Most of it is online, self-driven,” Vorst continued. “They will have milestones and benchmarks they have to meet every week.

“If they get it done, then they can slow down or work on some homework or whatever, but there will be very little instruction from me. I’ll answer questions and stuff like that.

“From what I’ve seen from other schools that do this program, it seems really efficient, it seems well put together, and I think it will be a really good opportunity for our kids, to be honest.”

Drew Kachmarik, who will be a senior at Eastwood, took the baseball class at Eastwood last year and plans to take the basketball class this fall.

Drew is a perfect fit, becuase his father. a Division I assistant collegiate coach for 15 years and currently the head coach at Toledo St. Francis High School, Jamie Kachmarik, evaluated Big Ten Conference officials for 10 seasons.

For Drew, along with working at Cross Winds Golf Course in Perrysburg Township, playing Pemberville American Legion Post 183 baseball and travel baseball, and helping coordinate Monday Night Lights three-on-three basketball at Pemberville’s Memorial Park this summer, he’s been umpiring youth baseball in Graytown, Luckey, and Woodville.

An All-Northern Buckeye Conference first baseman who batted over .400 his junior year, Drew says it helped that he began seeing the game a little differently.

“When I played baseball, now I’m seeing it in the game,” Kachmarik said. “You don’t realize how much goes into the game.

“There are a lot of little things that you never thought of until learning the classes and learning the rules. You see a lot and every time you play you see a new thing, too, that goes with it.

“It’s a great opportunity, not just for me, but for all the other people who were in it. You have something to do, be involved in the games around you even when you are done after high school or college, and to keep in the game.

“And, nowadays, it is great money. It’s super nice because now, this summer, I wouldn’t have made all the money I did if I didn’t ump.”

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