PLAYOFF SEASON IS STARTING – SO WHAT
By: John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician
The end of the intercollegiate soccer season is fast approaching. In fact by the time this article is posted, the Junior College Regional Play Offs will be over. The NCAA divisions will be starting their conference tournaments, making the selections and starting first round play shortly. Also, the NAIA early rounds will begin shortly. All this to say SO WHAT.
To a large amount of NISOA members the end of the regular season means packing up their uniforms and equipment for another year. These same individuals will start to heal their sore muscles and attend end of season chapter banquets and talk about the games they officiated and the new memories they now have. There is nothing wrong with this approach. The accomplishment of reaching the intercollegiate ranks as a NISOA member and getting to work games during the season is something to be very proud of and in some ways an honor.
Another group of NISOA members are now preparing for post-season assignments. In the early rounds these assignments come with a short notice. The officials must be prepared to leave for a game on Friday night when they may not receive their notification until Wednesday. If you think you are going to get a post-season assignment, it would be a good idea to have all your uniforms, warm ups, flags, etc. in a single place ready to go. Last minute packing in a rush could mean forgetting an item and problems for the entire crew assigned to the game.
Dress and appearance is even more critical for post-season games. Officials should arrive at the game in either a NISOA golf shirt and slacks or a blazer and tie. Talk to your partners in advance so you all arrive looking alike and professional. If there is a pre meeting before the game with the tournament committees, it is strongly recommended that you wear a blazer and tie. First impressions go a long way.
If you are assigned a conference tournament, you need to be prepared for staying for several days. This means packing sufficient and proper clothing for non-officiating times. You are representing NISOA and your clothing should reflect this organization only. Remember, the officials assigned to this type of tournament are officials 24 hours a day for the duration of the tournament. The off field behavior and actions are a reflection on the officials assigned and NISOA in general.
Officials assigned to post season games must make sure they are fully aware of the overtime rules and the kicks from the penalty spot rules. A misapplication of these rules will surely lead to a protest and an embarrassing situation for all involved. Review the rules before leaving to the game and review them again during the pregame discussion. In the same regard, if the assignment is being the alternate official, make sure there is a NISOA Alternate Official Form available and completed properly and completely. The alternate official is part of the team and must perform all the duties and responsibilities assigned.
Congratulations to everyone who receives a post season assignment. Enjoy the experience and perform the duties assigned in a professional manner.