Tag Archives: kid

It Takes A Village To Raise A Youth Official

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I was on the far side in a game that I was working some time ago. Red player was legally body checked by the White player and I saw no reason to throw my flag. A spectator in the stands yelled out, “Don’t you have to take a class to ref? Maybe you should take it again.” I permitted myself a small smile. Unbeknownst to that particular fan, I am one of the officials responsible for teaching youth and adult officials classes for the entire state of Georgia. I didn’t do anything about that spectator because I was in a competitive high school playoff game, and I was twenty-four. I’ve spent the last five years growing as a lacrosse official, and over those years I’ve learned to shut out the cacophony of verbal tirades unleashed upon me by those who have likely never read the rulebook or stepped onto the field as an impartial arbitrator. I do not require protection from these absurd comments, but the youth officials I work with do.

Parents complain to everyone when an adult coach curses at their child or their child’s team within earshot of the parent, but I have yet to witness a parent or group of parents confront an adult spectator who is berating and cursing a teenage youth official. Instead, I see these spectators turn. They hear one or two adults verbally attack a sixteen-year-old official, and they jump on the “abuse the kid ref” bandwagon because they don’t want to chance that the youth official will make calls against their team because of the comments from an opposing spectator. So they even out the verbal abuse, just to keep things fair.

From our early days of YMCA LAX I never permitted any spectator to insult or aggressively question any of my youth officials. I maintain that policy at AYL today for one reason – I need these youth officials.

I need these youth officials to keep and grow their interest in officiating lacrosse. By knowing the rules and their application they become better lacrosse players, which benefits the teams they play for. Also, when these youth refs graduate high school and go off to college they have a foundation in officiating that any Lacrosse Officials Association (LOA) would be happy to build upon. We need to keep youth officials in the officiating pipeline for as long as possible to support the continued growth of lacrosse all over the country.

I’ve worked with adult officials who could not take the endless criticism and are no longer officiating because it, “was not worth the abuse.” Men over forty stop officiating in every sport every year because of that reason, and we have the collective gall to assume that a sixteen-year-old kid is actually being “toughened up” by the sideline vitriol. Eventually that sixteen-year-old gives up officiating even though it pays better than a job at the local movie theatre. I’ve worked with many youth refs over the years and I can tell you unequivocally that they are much tougher than you give them credit for. In fact, I would wager a good amount of money that if I took a mom or dad screaming at the top of their lungs off the sideline and shoved them onto the field with a flag and a whistle that they would quickly realize how tough officiating youth lacrosse is.

It takes a village to raise a youth official, and every adult present at youth games has a responsibility to stand up for a kid who is trying to manage a competitive lacrosse game between children wearing body armor and carrying batons. They have enough to focus on without worrying about what piercing comment is coming next from some parent in a lawn chair.

So the next time you are watching your child play and some other adult is losing his or her mind, go and tell that person to start acting like an adult. If you do not feel comfortable doing that alone then find the league administrator or adult staff member and ask them to address the angry parent.

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If you are interested in being trained as a Boy’s Lacrosse Youth Official (14-18) please visit: http://atlantalacrosseofficial.com/2013/10/spring-training-dates-announced-for-new-youth-officials/

If you are interested in being trained as a Boy’s High School Lacrosse Official (18+) please visit: http://galaxref.com/training/adult-officials/new-adult-officials-registration/

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Post Inspiration – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/teen-hockey-refs-quitting-over-verbal-abuse-1.2438081

Featured Image Credit – http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/zebras/images/24515272/title/momma-baby-zebra-photo

Cheers,
Gordon

Why Kids Should Take Care Of Fish

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I know what you’re thinking. How am I going to link caring for fish to lacrosse? Well, here I go:

I was in fifth grade when I started taking care of a few freshwater fish in a tiny ten gallon aquarium. My first fish was a little catfish that zoomed to the side of the tank and swam erratically against the glass when it saw it’s reflection. I named it Frisky.

As I got older I went to a twenty gallon, and finally a forty gallon aquarium through most of high school. I kept Frisky, the algae eater, Spot, and most all of my fish alive for a good six or seven years. I did this by reading up on how to keep a freshwater aquarium ecosystem running well. I changed the water regularly, kept the light on a timer, and did not overfeed the fish. At a young age I learned how to care for an entire group of small creatures that relied on me. I also learned that small mistakes repeated over time can drastically harm the tiny ecosystem.

The smaller the ecosystem the greater the impact of every change so it is important to make very small changes. This same principle applies to a youth lacrosse team of 18-22 players. If a coach wants to change many things at the same time the team’s players will not respond well. Say you want your players to throw better checks, break down better, have better footwork, and slide better. If you try to teach all of that at the same time you will fail. The team ecosystem will break down with the flood of too much new or different information. Instead, institute your changes gradually. One week just work on better footwork. The next, better checking. Over time your team will improve defensively because you broke down a big change – Better Defense – into a bunch of smaller, easily digestible, changes.

Another lesson I learned from fish is that you cannot introduce new fish into your tank by just pouring them in. When you get a fish from the store, the employee puts the fish into a small bag in the water it is used to swimming in. That water is different from your aquarium water in chemical levels and temperature. Imagine how you would react if a stranger picked you up from school, drove you a distance you couldn’t measure, and then left you at a new school in a different state. You might be a little shocked.

The correct way to bring in new fish is to float the bag in your water so the temperature equalizes. After fifteen minutes, pour a little bit of your water into the new fish bag so the shock is lessened. Then use a fish net to scoop up the little fish and gently deposit him in your aquarium. The fish will be less shocked, and you don’t have to worry about introducing a bag worth of store aquarium water into your aquarium.

Players must understand that they will not get better after one practice or one game. You can’t shock your system into learning anything. Just as coaches must be gradual in teaching new concepts, players must take a consistent approach to learning new skills. If you want to get better at winning face offs, you don’t try to master every face off move at the same time. Remember what Bruce Lee famously said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Get really good at the basics, and then add to your skill set slowly and consistently. If you do that, the only person getting shocked by your skills will be your opponent.

The last reason I have for young players taking care of fish ties in with the main AYL message: Player Responsibility. We put a huge emphasis on players at every age level to be responsible for their gear and their practice off the field. Our staff does not like seeing players handing their gear to their mom or dad for the short walk to their car. It is your gear, you wear it, you carry it.

The trouble with responsibility is that kids have to be given something to be responsible for, and adults can never be sure how the kid will handle it until given the chance. That is why caring for one or more fish in a tiny aquarium is an awesome way to teach kids responsibility. You can get small aquariums for very cheap, and freshwater neons cost less than $2 per fish! If a fish dies the parent isn’t out a bunch of money, and neons are not tough to keep alive because they are hardy little guys.

The young player taking care of fish learns how to take care of creatures that are completely dependent on the young player for their survival. That is a huge lesson in responsibility for a kid, and if the kid fails early on you get a few more cheap fish and try again. Very little is at stake, but the kid learns how to be more responsible, and if they demonstrate the responsibility to take care of a few fish then they prove to the adults that they can take on more important tasks.

Alright! Fish to lacrosse link accomplished! I wonder what other obscure non-lacrosse related things I can link to lacrosse…

Cheers,
Gordon Corsetti