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The Road to Varsity: Practice How You Play

High school basketball season has begun with scrimmages scheduled from early November till the end of the month. Scrimmages not only give teams the opportunity to practice plays and game situations, they give officials the opportunity to practice these as well.  Scrimmages take on added importance to me this year as I transition to Varisty level officiating.  With this in mind, I approach the scrimmage with an open mindedness,a heightened sense of responsibility, a work ethic and commitment to hustle, work hard, and be receptive to suggestions from my fellow crew members.  I make a promise to myself to "practice how I play"-- a term my son, a youth coach,  uses to describe his expectations of his players during practices. 

Award Winning Game Changer Game Day Chili

This chili won the award for "Best Tasting" at its inaugural submission in an annual chili cook off last Fall.  The competition was a fundraiser and took place during pre-game tail gating on college game day. Key to its awesome flavor is the right blend of spices. Key to its success at the contest?  TEAMWORK!  My son, the chili master, created the recipe and along with his fraternity brothers, orchestrated the shopping, prepping, cooking and transportation for 4 gallons of this beefy delight to the competition site. I call it "Game Changer" chili because it sets a new benchmark for the tastiest chili I have ever had! I hope you will feel the same.


3 lbs. ground beef ( 80/20)

The Road To Varsity: It Begins with a Game Plan and a Great Mentor

The excitement of my recent promotion is still fresh and my enthusiasm for upping my game this season remains unabated.  All I can think to myself is, "BRING IT!"  But before I step out on the court December 1, I must prepare a game plan that spells out specifically what I need to improve upon and what I want the outcome of this season to be.  In addition, I need an experienced set of eyes and ears, a MENTOR, to help me succeed.  Officiating is, after all, still a team effort.

Hubba Hubba Hawaiian Pork: A Team Party Crowd Pleaser

One of the joys of being a team mom and loving to cook is the opportunity to host and plan the team party. I was fortunate enough to have a home large enough to host a small crowd so I would take ownership of planning the event, the menu and the start time. One of my favorite dishes to prepare is Hawaiian Pulled-Pig, aka Kahlua Pig.  It takes about 4 hours to cook, but is guaranteed to bring smiles, satisy big appetites, and make your kids happy to eat leftovers the next day-- presuming any of it is left!

One of the joys of being team mom was planning the end of season team party.

The Road to Varsity : A Journey and Full Time Commitment to Learning

After three long months of agonizing anticipation, I finally received official word last night of my promotion!  YAY!! I DID IT!! Come winter, I will officiate my first Varsity games as well as higher level non-Varsity match-ups. It is likely I will be assigned predominantly Girls Varsity for starters since Boys Varsity games are a level of play to be earned over time. I feel REALLY good about myself and how hard I worked to earn this promotion. Its fair to say that I am experiencing "mixed emotions"-- a combination of elation, excitement and unbridled joy!

Home-Made Egg Rolls: A Delicious And Different Post-Game Snack

As a team parent, I had the honor of being at least twice on the snack rotation for my son's Little League team.  What started as a routine obligation, morphed quickly into a fun "competition" amongst parents over who could make the most asked-for team snack.  I made egg rolls for the team snack, team parties, coaches' gifts, school international projects...... the list goes on.   With so much attention given to healthy snacks, I decided that "healthy" is in the eyes of the beholder. Instead, I opt for FUN and introduce to you, my famous, "Mrs. B's Egg Rolls".   

My Polaroid Moment......Good things develop over time...

As an official, I have the benefit of seeing immediate behavior changes as a direct result of my calls. Blow the whistle and play stops. Warn the kids to ease up rough play, and they do. Such immediate gratification comes with the job.  As a parent, however, this is not always the case. Aside from adoption of safety rules such as "wear your seatbelt!", or "look both ways before crossing the street!",  we might witness the demonstration of values such as honesty, integrity, or good sportsmanship over time and only in certain circumstances.

Moms Madness: Will You Join My Team?

I recently received an email asking for prayers for Coach Brad, a coach I know through the local basketball league. Coach Brad underwent his second surgery to remove a tumor that emerged only weeks after a clean PET scan.  The news of the tumor was disheartening to his family and the many of us who have fought the battle against cancer.  I lost my husband to cancer seven years ago and in the wake of that devastating event  there emerged to me a clear call to action:  Barbara, DO SOMETHING!  And I did.

I recently received an email asking for prayers for Coach Brad, a coach I know through the local basketball league, who recently underwent his second surgery to remove a tumor that emerged only weeks after a clean PET scan.  Having lost my hustband, Mark, to cancer seven years ago, I know what he and his family are going through. I wanted to do something, so I am putting out a casting call for all moms out there willing to join me in the creation of a Moms Madness 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament to honor coaches in your community like Coach Brad and Coach Mark. 

Official to Coach Communication Lesson #2: Explain the Call, Not the Rule

Officials sometime make the mistake of explaining a rule to a coach in response to a coach's comment or question on a call. There is inherent risk in using rules interpretation as a communication tool.  Firstly, it takes the official's attention away from the players on the court. Secondly, it gives the coach too much information and opens the door for trouble. A coach friend of mine recently challenged an official asking why he did not call a lane violation on a 6'3 player who was gaining advantage by dwelling in the key. The official responded by explaining the rule at length. The problem was, the coach knew the rule better than the official. The verbose and incorrect explanation by the official hurt the crew's credibility on virtually every call in the game.

Officials sometime make the mistake of explaining a rule to a coach in response to a coach's comment or question on a call.  Officials need to respond to coaches' questions, but do so briefly. Warning to officials: Know the rules!
Warning to coaches: Officials are trained to respond to questions, not comments.

Official to Coach Communication Lesson #1: Speak to Me, I'll Speak To You

I love Frank Sinatra! His music relaxes me. I listen to him as I take my daily power walks and contemplate an upcoming game or review games from  the past.  On yesterday's walk, I was replaying in my head, a caustic exchange with a coach, when at that very moment, my iPod shuffled to " I've Got You Under My Skin". I laughed at the uncanny timing of this and also at how the song's title appropriately describes officials; feelings about some coaches, and vice versa.

This blog begins a series of lessons learned from my mistakes in dealing with coaches.  I hope that officials and coaches who read this may see some of themselves in these and take heart that we can listen to each other and learn together.

The first in a series of blog posts on the lessons learned from my mistakes in dealing with coaches.

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