By:  John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of NISOA this month in Englewood, Co, at the annual convention, this  intercollegiate article will take a different approach.   The convention will have a special reception on Thursday evening with several family members of the NISOA founders and special guests in attendance.  This should be a fantastic time to remember the past and plan for the future.  This is the first of a two part article on the history of NISOA.  Special thanks to Don Brown who did most of the research.

In 1963 a small group of mostly college coaches met in New York City to discuss the need to improve the quality of soccer officiating at the intercollegiate level.  This was the genesis of NISOA.  In 1964, there was an organizational meeting and Jim Walder, Philadelphia, PA, was elected as the first president.  Long time legend of NISOA, Harry Rogers, Philadelphia, PA was first vice-president.  The membership totaled 184.  In 1966 Dr. Raymond Bernabei was asked to be the National Examiner and he developed the first formal criteria for membership in NISOA.  By 1968, 32 test centers were established around the country to administer the entrance examination.

The 1970’s began with the first National Clinic being held at Ohio Wesleyan.  At the same time, NISOA began establishing relationships with the NSCAA, NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, NCCAA and NIRSA .  NISOA became partners with the various organization tournament selection committees.  In 1973, the first five year plan was presented by President Raymond Bernabei which established a National Convention, Entry Level Standards, International Exchange Program, Policy Manual, Fiscal Management, National Academy for Referee Training and more.  During the term of Jack Schrumpf as president, Ray Bernabei was appointed as Executive Director.  All aspects of the five year plan began including in 1977, the annual NISOA Referee Training Camp was established.  One year later, under the direction of Bob Sumpter,  a group of individuals developed a program to objectively evaluating the field performance of officials and providing feedback.   A five-year plan was developed and by 2002, there were 372 registered assessors.

The National Referee Program was inaugurated in 1986 in conjunction with the annual convention.  Under the leadership of Pat Smith and Bob Sumpter the training curriculum was developed and presented to sixty four candidates.  These names were selected from over 250 potential individuals and were decided upon by a committee of eight coaches and eight NISOA members.   As a follow-up to the program in 1988, the first NISOA National Referee Area Assessment Coordinator was appointed and later the area assessment coordinator position was established.  The program expanded under the direction of Bob Sumpter and the Critical Incident videos commenced in 1992 to help train officials.  George Noujaim  was appointed director of the National Referee Program in 1994.

Technology became a part of NISOA training in the 1990’s when Larry Bernard began producing the video tape of the annual rule changes.  At the same time the interscholastic video on rules changes was also produced.  At the same time, in 1995, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), requested NISOA to develop a formal program to train and certify high school clinicians.  Over 140 clinicians were trained when the program was implemented.

The 1990’s also provided a time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of NISOA in Atlantic City, NJ.  The New Jersey Chapter did an outstanding job in planning and ensuring a large turnout.  Two other events occurred during this time frame.  In 1997,  NISOA reached a goal of having a chapter in every state.  Also, in 1998, the NFHS requested NISOA to develop a training program for clinicians in all their sports.  Again, Bob Sumpter took a leadership role and the program was developed, accepted by the NFHS, and presented to individuals in 17 different sports.

Next moth this article will continue by highlighting NISOA in the 21st. Century.  Many more milestones will be presented and discussed.