From: Todd Abraham, NISOA Past President
As I transition NISOA’s presidency to George Wescott, I am very pleased by the progress we have made over the past two years both on and off the field. We have accomplished a lot and I believe NISOA is in a better place due to the tireless efforts of a large group of dedicated and committed volunteers. Our progress reflects your enthusiastic support for NISOA and its referees. On the field NISOA members officiated over 99% of the playoff matches and performed admirably. Our referees demonstrated their rules knowledge every day in collegiate games played across the country. Our training, assessment and assignment programs are working as the number of protests is continuing to decrease.
Since the Buffalo convention I have been preparing for this leadership transition. There have been a number of discussions about the future of NISOA and what needs to be done moving forward, especially as it relates to the organizational model passed by the Board. During this period Cliff McCrath has decided to ask that his contract not be renewed. I want to thank Cliff for his dedication, professionalism, service to and support of NISOA over his tenure as Executive Director. His leadership and vision has helped shape NISOA as we transitioned to a more professional and business-like association. While our work is not complete, the roadmap is certainly well-defined and well into the execution phase. We will miss Cliff’s stewardship and enthusiasm as our Executive Director, but know he will always be a tireless supporter of our cause!
Off the field we have made significant progress in the keys areas I outlined last year, while by no means solving every problem we face.
- Drive administrative rigor into the organization – our key customers – the NCAA and our members – expect a higher level of professionalism than ever. The complexity of activities and interactions coupled with the limited time our volunteer leaders can devote to NISOA continues to be an opportunity. We finalized the decision making framework and outlined responsibilities for all of our key leaders. At the Buffalo convention we approved the structural recommendations creating a leaner Executive Council that will streamline our decision making, provide growth and training opportunities for those interested in serving in one of NISOA’s many volunteer roles, and consolidating our regional structure to reduce administrative costs across the organization. The approval of the two recommendations – reducing the regions and restructuring the leadership – is critical to continuing progress in administrative rigor. We completed a thorough evaluation of our financial oversight and decided to move the activity to a professional manager. . We have modernized and streamlined our Executive function, our decision making and our finances.
- Complete the evolution of the National Referee Program to ensure that NISOA’s flagship program is relevant to the NCAA, aligned with the needs of the assignors, and meets the expectations of our premier referees. This summer‘s NRP clinics reflected the advances we have made in the quality of the training materials developed by the National Referee program staff and the National Clinicians in cooperation with the NCAA. Issues were identified by the NCAA as priority areas for training and referee development. Game tapes were reviewed to identify incidents and situations that demonstrated alternative approaches to deal with these priority areas. Training material was structured to allow referees to focus on “what would I do” in those situations to help drive changes on the field. The 10 extraordinary National Referee Academies we held this past summer reflect a new and exciting level of NISOA training and a vehicle for better disseminating critical information through the National Referees to all members.
- Restoring the relevance to the local chapters by working with the Regional Representatives to propose and pass constitutional change which ensures that the local chapters function as the instructional and administrative hub for our general membership. The changes passed in Buffalo will allow us to more quickly and effectively manage our relationship with the local chapters. Additionally, the National clinician core developed a portfolio of local training material at the bi-annual National Clinician recertification which was distributed to every chapter in NISOA. This material provides a foundation for tailored local instruction which will enable each chapter t add even more value and relevance than ever and to ensure we are bringing our best training to every one of our 5000 members
Over the past two years, we have conducted a number of leadership meetings aimed at more precisely defining NISOA’s unique contribution to the soccer officiating ecosystem which have led us to more formally define our mission – to recruit, train, develop and source referees for the NCAA and college soccer game. We have reinforced our shared values by which we expect to lead NISOA, run our chapter business and conduct ourselves on and around the field – as officials, assignors, assessor, and instructors. Those values – family first; career second; ethics and integrity; service and commitment – must be our future foundation.
Our unique reason for being – why NISOA exists is because NISOA is the only source for approved NCAA soccer instruction. Our members are uniquely qualified to officiate intercollegiate soccer because of training and assessment programs focused exclusively on the distinctive collegiate rules and environment. We must focus our efforts on those activities that only NISOA can provide. We don’t have the resources nor the capacity to expand beyond our distinctiveness. Every volunteer hour must be advancing the goals of NISOA and should not duplicate efforts going on elsewhere in the organization.
To reinforce and build on these precepts, Cliff McCrath conducted a leadership meeting with the officers and legal counsel to define the structural and constitutional changes needed to support this vision. It was a highly engaging summit with a number of critical issues discussed. It led to a fundamental redesign of our organization which is being presented to the membership at the Buffalo convention and for which I am asking your support.
We are progressing these goals to strengthen NISOA for the long term and deliver the value to our membership that they expect from the dues they contribute to its operation and the leadership of the organization. Our continued efforts are to create an institution which is admired by collegiate officiating organizations of all sports and held up by the NCAA as the model by which all other official’s groups should be judged. I am proud of the progress we are making at this pivotal time and very much look forward to continuing our efforts in these critical areas as we create NISOA’s future. We have done a lot and have a lot to do. I’m looking forward to George’s leadership and vision for the future and thank you for the opportunity to have led NISOA during this time of transformation and change. I hope I have fully met your expectations as President and publically apologize for any oversights, shortcomings or missteps I may have inadvertently taken. My top priority has always been and will continue to be the health and vibrancy of NISOA.
Thank you for all of your support!