Mason Official at Regional Flag Football Championships

Posted: November 16, 2018 at 3:54 pm

If you never thought you could go far with Flag Football with Mason Recreation Intramurals, just ask junior Jacob Hurt.  Hurt currently is a referee and supervisor for Mason Recreation Intramurals, as well as a recent official in the NIRSA Region I Regional Flag Football Championships at the University of Maryland from November 9 – 11.  With Region I extending from Maryland all the way up to Maine, it wasn’t just players filing in from within these states, but also selected officials that have proven track records of sound officiating.  We were able to catch up with Jacob following Regionals to give us some insight being one of few selected to referee at Maryland:

Q: Were you nervous going into this weekend and what things did you do to prepare?

J: I am always nervous because it’s a competitive atmosphere. I prepared last weekend by reviewing the NIRSA rulebook for flag football. The rules and regulations at the tournament are slightly different than rules and regulations on campus.

Q: What was the best part of the UMD Regional Flag Football Championships?

J: The best part of the tournament at UMD was actually officiating the games. There is a lot of preparation and hype around it but that is the main reason for us to be there and it was enjoyable.

Jacob started refereeing basketball when he was a freshman in high school.  That experience helped him begin refereeing for Mason Intramurals in the spring of 2017.  Currently, Jacob plans to referee throughout his years here at Mason and see what the future holds for a potential career in officiating. Luckily, Jacob can use his supervisor Merrissa Vault, Coordinator for Competitive Sports, Camps and Special Events, for any career questions because she too came from an officiating background in her undergrad.  We recently sat down with Merrissa to get her view of officiating:

Q: What characteristics do you think are necessary to be a great official?

M: Communication, Leadership and Management are essential skills to being a great official.  Being a ref, you have to keep not just yourself, but all of the players and coaches level headed with your communication and management of the game.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for up-and-coming student’s / refs on how they can improve their skill?

M: The best way to improve on all of these characteristics is to get reps and that’s why our Intramural program is perfect for developing officials.  Our officials can manage games at different levels from recreation to competitive, they have access to trainings and just like Jacob, and opportunities to officiate tournaments regionally and nationally will present themselves.

Clearly, Jacob has taken hold of these recommendations by getting reps via Mason Intramurals and managing flag football games efficiently enough to get recognized and be able to ref at a Regional high level competition.  Jacob also touched on the characteristics he thinks it takes to be a great official with:

J: “Patience is key to officiating. Having a patient whistle, especially in flag football, helps us to get our calls right. Also, patience in the long-term is also a must. Nobody is a very good official when first starting out. It’s going to take time and practice. The key is to learn from mistakes and focus on 1 or 2 things you can improve on every game.  Nobody can be a great official overnight.”

We’re sure over the course of the Regional Tournament, Jacob was able to focus on a few things and continue to build his skill.  While some might think refereeing serves one purpose, building upon officiating skills can also translate to skills outside of the playing field:

J: “Working as an official has helped thicken my skin. It’s not all about making calls. Presence and communication are huge. Building strong relationships with players and coaches help people respect you more as an official, as well as your calls. I constantly have to face criticism from others. Sometimes it is justified and other times it is not. The point is I have learned to move on when being placed in stressful situations.”

Finally, we here at Mason Recreation want to congratulate Jacob on his accomplishment this past weekend, as well as representing #MasonNation.  To those who are currently officiating in our Mason Intramural programs, keep working at building your skills because just like Jacob opportunities will present themselves.  And to those who are and are not currently officiating, use Mason Intramurals as a foundation and resource because you will develop skills that will translate into multiple realms of life, in addition to receiving the best view of every sport competition 🙂