Sideline Q&A

One of my good friends and officiating mentors, Don Stoppenbach, gave me a great example many years ago that evolved into the Sideline Q&A Sessions that Atlanta Youth Lacrosse fans have come to expect and enjoy. While I did not get to do as many Q&A sessions as I wanted to this year, I was able to do a good many during the first few weeks of the season, and all of our parents and fans came up with great questions. This post will give you a little history on the Q&A sessions, how they have developed, and finally a list of frequently asked questions and answers for everyone’s enjoyment.

History of the Sideline Q&A

My first experience with the Sideline Q&A was quite a surprise. I was helping officiate a few youth games many years ago, and during halftime of the game my partner Don went over to the fans’ sideline and introduced himself. He stated that he was a GLOA official who was helping ref this youth tournament that weekend, and if anyone had any questions about rules to ask him.

I was a little stunned. It never occurred to me to go over to the fans, who are usually not the official’s best friends, and try to befriend them with a friendly question and answer session. What surprised me was how effective this strategy was in keeping the fans and parents calm. It showed to all of the fans how knowledgeable the referee was, and that he was willing to help everyone enjoy the game more by informing all the fans about the various rules of lacrosse.

After seeing Don do this for each half of our series of games together I was convinced that the Sideline Q&A was a winner, and I wanted to take it to Atlanta Youth Lacrosse.

Development of the Sideline Q&A

While I do not usually get too nervous when speaking in front of people, I was definitely battling butterflies before my first Sideline Q&A. It was back in the early days of YMCA Lax, the precursor to Atlanta Youth Lacrosse, and I was the head official each weekend. I put it on myself to go over to the fans’ sideline in almost every halftime and conduct a brief Q&A session. I have no idea how the first session went. I was that nervous. Mainly because it is generally not a good idea for officials, who try to be unbiased, to interact with fans, who are always biased. So I was shaking in my boots trying my best to answer a lot of questions in a short period of time.

Like anything else, practice makes you better, and I got a lot of practice answering questions that season. I got a lot better at introducing myself to the entire sideline, getting everyone’s attention, and answering questions briefly but thoroughly. Eventually, I developed the following introduction:

“Hello everyone! My name is Gordon Corsetti and I’m the head official here at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse. If anyone has any questions about rules, or about something that was called during this game please ask away and I will answer your question as best as I can.”

My favorite thing about the Q&A sessions is how much it calms down everybody. It shows that there is a capable, competent, and confident official on the field who is in control of the game. Ultimately, the parents want their kids to be safe and have fun. It is my opinion that if a game is officiated focusing on safety and fairness, then the kids will always have a good time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a legal body check?
    • From the front or from the side, with the hands together, and between the collarbone and the waist.
  • What is a legal stick check?
    • Hitting the gloved hand holding the stick, or the stick itself.
  • What is in-and-out of the crease?
    • If a defensive player or the goalie has the ball in possession outside of the crease. He may not enter the crease.
  • How long is each penalty?
    • Personal fouls = 1, 2, or 3 minutes depending on the official’s discretion. Most personal fouls are one-minute in length, but can be made longer if especially illegal or violent.
    • Technical fouls = 30 seconds
  • Why did you call failure to advance?
    • Older teams are usually subject to advancement counts. 20 seconds for the defense to clear the ball past the plane of the midfield line, and 10 seconds for the offense to touch the ball into the box.

I would really like to thank my good friend Don Stoppenbach for giving me such a useful tool for managing youth games. I’ve answered so many great questions from our parents and fans, but the best thing that I’ve gotten from the Sideline Q&A were the people coming up to me after the game and saying how great it was for someone to come over and answer questions.

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About Lou Corsetti

Gordon is a born lacrosse official who played for ten years before realizing he'd much rather ref the game than play it. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia and officiates youth, high school, and collegiate men's lacrosse games all over the southeast. His passion is educating and training officials, coaches, players, parents and all other fans on the rules of lacrosse, it's history, and how best to develop lacrosse in new areas.

2 thoughts on “Sideline Q&A

  1. Patrick Boyd

    I enjoy all your articles, but this one even more for two reasons. 1) I’ve also found these same benefits of talking to the fans and 2) As a ref up in Washington State, I now have the privilege of knowing Stoppenbach. We’ve only worked together a couple of times, but have spoken with him much and he is a great guy and an asset for Washington lacrosse. Thanks again for the article.

    1. Gordon Post author


      I’m glad you are enjoying my articles! Please say hello to Stopper for me when you guys work together again.

      The Sideline Q&A’s truly are helpful in developing areas.

      Best of luck to you and the Washington LOA next season!


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