How bad is the shortage of soccer officials in Utah?
If high school soccer were a medical patient, it would be in critical condition.
"Even if we were to use all of certified referees available, we could not cover every high school game with three officials," said Bart Thompson, the associate director over soccer for the Utah High School Activities Association. "There are just not enough officials."
Instead of just begging for volunteers, the UHSAA will now ask schools to change their soccer schedules. Instead of scheduling games on Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30, officials are asking principals and coaches to consider spreading the matches Monday through Friday and starting much later in the afternoon.
"A lot of officials are turning back games at 3:30 p.m. because they can't get off work," said Thompson. The situation is so bad that most games have had only two officials and about a half dozen games in Sanpete and Sevier counties have been canceled because administrators could find no officials willing to travel to the schools to officiate.
"As principals, please look at going Monday and Wednesday or Wednesday and Friday," Thompson said. "Some officials can actually officiate soccer on Friday afternoon and then do a football game in the evening."
There are a number of complaints from coaches and players regarding current officials.
"One of the complaints is that soccer officials are too old and can't keep up," Thompson said. "Well, those are the only ones who are retired and able to get off that early to officiate ... The games have to start later and we have to spread them out. It's that pure and simple."
Thompson said the UHSAA has asked soccer coaches to schedule matches on different days, but most teams and regions still schedule contests on Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
"We need to recruit new officials," Thompson said. "Schools are in the best position to successfully do this. Sources of new officials include fans, former coaches, and the best source, former players."
He said many first-year officials quit because fans and coaches are so abusive. The officials are often put in situations that they shouldn't be because there are so few available referees. The shortage frustrates coaches, players and fans, who take it out on the new recruits.
"I would love to implement a better evaluation and training system, but right now I can't because if I were to take experienced officials off of games to evaluate and train, I'd be cancelling games for lack of officials," Thompson said.
IVY LEAGUE BOUND: Judge High senior Noel Hollingsworth verbally committed to Brown University of the Ivy League last week.
A 6-foot-9 center, who also plays for Salt Lake Metro club basketball team, is the top-ranked post prospect in Utah by the Intermountain Hoops Scouting Service. As a junior for Judge last year, Hollingsworth averaged 20.6 points, 13.0 rebounds and 3.6 blocks.
Hollingsworth was a first-team all-stater for the Deseret Morning News last season.
FUTURE AGGIE: Snow Canyon standout Liz McArthur has verbally committed to play volleyball for Utah State University next season. The senior outside hitter led her team to a second-place finish in last weekends Utah Classic with 23 kills in the championship match against top-ranked Highland. McArthur is an all-state volleyball player, honor student and varsity basketball player.
HOOPS CLINIC: The Utah High School Basketball Coaches Association will be hosting its annual clinic at BYU's Marriott Center on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost of the clinic is $50 per coach and includes a continental breakfast and lunch.
BYU coach Dave Rose and his staff will be conducting the UHSBCA clinic.
Interested participants should contact Olympus coach Matt Barnes or mail a check to Matt Barnes at Olympus High School, 4055 S. 2300 East, Holladay, Utah, 84124.
The clinic is also open to competition and youth team coaches, and coaches can register the day of the clinic at the Marriott Center.