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by Maddie Hodge

The WIAA honors the motto of sportsmanship through play, encouraging student-athletes across the state to grow and learn through sport. This growth hinges on the dedication of coaches, parents, and spectators – and the necessity of individuals willing to invest time to serve as officials at high school competitions. 

Without officials, there would be no games. 

The task of securing qualified individuals to officiate games across the state is a daunting one. With the number of available officials declining, the WIAA is partnering with member high schools around the state to recruit students to become licensed officials. The WIAA’s goal is to identify individuals who are passionate about the game as officials after graduation.

Beloit Memorial High School in Beloit, Wis., under the direction of Joe Clothier has implemented a program to train and certify officials. Clothier is the instructor of Beloit Memorial’s one-half credit officiating class. The class serves as an option to diversify physical education requirements, which needs to total 1.5 credits to graduate.

“The course is designed to enable students to get certified to officiate three sports of their choice,” Clothier said.  “Students are provided outlines for each sport and asked to present information they have gathered.

“Throughout the course, students are required to officiate their respective sports during class,” he continued.  “New this year, students are also required to work athletic events outside of the classroom such as line judging, scoreboard, and football chains.  At the conclusion of the course, students take the WIAA officiating exams.”  

In addition to a new crop of officials, the benefits of having official training courses within schools is the enhanced understanding of the games’ playing rules that accompanies students who learn the ins and outs of what it takes to be an official for a high school level athletic event. 

“I've noticed that athletes benefit greatly from understanding the game from the officials’ point of view,” Clothier said.  “Athletes have commented that it develops their understanding of the rules and regulations. Also, students have commented that they develop more respect for the officials after having to officiate themselves.” 

In addition to a new perspective, the official training course encourages student independence. 
“Students have the ability to choose which sports they would like to focus on and as well as how they would like to present their information to the class,” Clothier said.  “I've noticed that giving students the ability to choose has increased participation and has added a lot of creativity to the course.” 

This newly fostered independence acts as a motivator to benefit the WIAA should these students choose to officiate in Wisconsin after graduation. Passionate, dedicated officials make athletic events meaningful for players and spectators; an investment in would-be high school officials is a smart, positive, pay-it-forward plan that has benefits on both sides of the whistle.

Along with Beloit Memorial, there are official training courses in school districts across the state, including Wilmot, Turner, River Falls, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, Brookfield, and Waterford High Schools. 


Maddie Hodge, a native of Janesville, Wis., is a junior English major with a management and media studies emphasis at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She is a former student-athlete at Janesville Craig High School.
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Wisconsin Interscholastic
Athletic Association
5516 Vern Holmes Drive
Stevens Point, WI 54482-8833
Phone (715) 344-8580
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