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Holding Court: The Tennis Court That Is!

Since my last blog, where I shared my disappointment in not being invited to the summer evaluation officiating program, I made a commitment to refocus my energy on other things. After all, life is more than just basketball, right?  (There, I said it!)

I decided to re-engage with tennis, a sport that I loved as a youth, but have not played in decades. In doing so, I discovered  that not only do I still LOVE the sport, but I have an opportunity to expand my momsTEAM perspective beyond officiating and sport parenthood.   With tennis, the officiating hat is off, and replaced with that of a  player on a doubles team, as well as a player being coached.  

Here are some of the insights I have gained so far:

After the disappointment of not being invited to the summer evaluation program, a high school basketball official refocuses her energy on tennis, a sport that she loved as a youth, but had not played in decades, and gains a new insight into youth sports on a different court.

The Road to Varsity : Dealing with Disappointment

The 2012 Summer Evaluation Program, or SEP as my association calls it, is coming up and several officials have been invited to attend and be evaluated for potential promotion. I was NOT on the invitation list and am very disappointed to say the least.  The elation of last year's promotion has been abruptly and unceremoniously replaced with a lousy feeling of failure and self-doubt.

A high school basketball official reminds herself that, if it is one thing she has learned about life's setbacks, it is that they often represent blessings in disguise.

MomsTeam and Fighting the Good Fight - Pro Humanitate

I recently attended campus day - my first "parent meet faculty" event at the university my daughter has chosen to spend the next four years of her life. As an mom and experienced sport parent, I approached the event with my usual silent support,  and measured, but contained enthusiasm ( I am very proud of her!).  Since she has already accepted the offer of admission, the check has been deposited, the dye cast, my attendance goal was to listen, absorb, people watch, and purchase university spirit wear. I accomplished all this -- but walked away from the event with so much more.  In short, I was BLOWN AWAY.

Recent visits  to the campus of the university her daughter will be attending in the fall, a school whose motto is Pro Humanitate (for humanity), reminds a sports mom and blogger that everyone involved in momsTEAM, whether as a contributor, parent or coach, is serving humanity as well in fighting for a safe, fun, and competitive youth sports experience for all of our kids.

Youth Sports and Life Lessons for Parents: The Art of Active Listening

For millions of households, March Madness has a double meaning.  On the one hand, it means from March 15 to early April, college basketball season is winding down with two weeks of frenzied fun culminating in the joy of triumph or painful disappoinment in defeat. The second meaning, at least for families such as mine, is that these same two weeks mark the final stages for a contemporaneous, possibly more emotional event:  college acceptance, rejection or placement on the wait-listed limbo-land.

Listening to a daughter's frustration about the college admission process, reminds a Virginia mom once again of the power of silent support and active listening learned as a sports parent.

A Warning to Sideline "Coaches": Just Let The Players Play

Australian tennis pro Bernard Tomic made an unusual request last weekend to the chair umpire during his quarter-final match at the Sony Ericsson Tennis Open in Miami. 

During a changeover he asked to have his dad "banished from the stands."  Seems his dad was, according to an article in USA Today, "noticeably upset with his son's performance", which the reader and fans might conclude, would impact Tomic's ability to focus. "He's annoying me. I know he's my father, but he's annoying me. I want him to leave as soon as possible," Tomic reportedly told the umpire.

As a sports parent and an official, I have witnessed first hand the effects of inappropriate sideline coaching from parents. Players rarely perform better when adults other than their coaches bark commands, make faces, gestures or statements intended to motivate.  While some would argue that such behavior is well meaning or overzealous, I respectfully disagree.  Such behavior is disrespectful and detrimental to the game, coaches, team, parents, and most of all, the players.

Good Health: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

This weekend I will officiate 3 full-court basketball games for The Special Olympics. My friend, Coach E, and I have volunteered our services for several years and it has evolved into a special spring tradition for both of us. 

The Road to Varsity Requires Patience, Patience, Patience

"Be patient, Barbara. The games will come." Such was the advice of Ed, the camp director of the first basketball officiating camp I attended in 2006.  Ed took a personal interest in my career and helped me improve by observing my games and encouraging me to focus on the big picture.  He advised that my goal should be on step-by-step improvement and a conviction that I will improve if I put my mind to it. AND, to give it time, and the games will come.

A high school basketball referee, newly promoted to call varsity games, reflects on a season which saw her officiating far fewer varsity games than she had hoped, but reminded her of the need to be as patient in achieving her goal of full varsity status as she is with her whistle.

Flagrant Fouls in Basketball: Difficult Call To Make

A video recently posted on YouTube (see below) featured footage of a high school basketball team committing six fouls in which the videographer accuses the officials of miscalling the fouls.  Like many, he considered any hard foul resulting in the player falling to the court a flagrant foul.  Problem is that such contact is not automatically a flagrant foul; it could be an intentional foul, or it could be just a hard, but ordinary, personal foul. 

A YouTube video accuses high school basketball officials of failing to call flagrant fouls, but begs more questions than it answers, says one official.

Rules Dictate When an Injured Player Leaves the Court, but Common Sense Should Rule When a Player Returns- But Does It?

Player safety as it relates to  removal of a player upon sustaining a concussion is receiving much-needed attention by teams, as well as officials. Basketball rules, as set forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations  (NFHS), are clear: the official shall remove a player if he/she is displaying symptoms of a concussion, and the player can return to the game only if/when cleared by a medical professional.

When is it medically okay to return to the basketball court after injury, versus when does it truly makes sense to do so?  There's a big difference.

The Road to Varsity: Game Management is a Moving Target

Scholastic season has begun and my initial slate of game assignments featured my first Varsity game December 9th.   Yay! When I received the notification of the assignment, I was so excited, I could not sleep! I immediately began preparing for the event by reviewing my goals with my mentor. I  decided to prepare for the match up by using the first 6 game assignments to practice. Areas of focus:  working with coaches, acknowledging their objections, court awareness of fouls and score; identifying problem players, and communicating with my partner(s) to ensure call consistency.

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