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USD and SDHSAA aim to recruit more school activity officials

Referees mingle before the start of the SDHASS 9B football state title match
Referees mingle before the start of the SDHASS 9B football state title match

If you’re a teacher looking to stand out from the pack and get the best seats in the house at the big game, officiating school sports could be one way to do just that. Two USD faculty members say that extra money is nice, but refereeing could also be a resume piece for the rest of your career.

There’s a shortage of school activities officials across the state. While anyone could volunteer to get involved locally, some say it’s a golden opportunity for young teachers to distinguish themselves.

That’s why the South Dakota High School Activities Association and the USD Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management are partnering on new referring training courses for students.

School of education associate dean Robin Weibers said it’s a job that can become more than just a side hustle.

“Officiating is one of those areas where if you’re an official becoming a teacher – oh my gosh, there’s so many correlations there," Weibers said. "I mean, they automatically go towards ‘I still want to be involved, I want to coach.’ I think this is another opportunity for them to think a little bit bigger and broader.”

Jessie Daw, chair of the kinesiology and sports management department, said refs have skills that can transfer to any classroom, office or shop.

“It also really teaches them a variety of skills they can practice or hone throughout their officiating time that will carry over to almost any job they might be looking for," Daw said. "Things like strong communication skills, decision making, handling conflict. A lot of employers are looking for some of those soft skills.”

While this specific effort targets students in the USD ed department, Daw said there’s a need in every corner of South Dakota.

“That shortage mirrors the national shortage," Daw said. "There really is opportunities for people to train as officials and be able to work pretty quickly.”

People interested in becoming a school activities official can find a link to more information here.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture