Used to be I packed my rowing referee gear up at the end of the head racing season in late October and spent the next several months busy refereeing basketball during the off season for crew. Today, that has changed. First, my "wheels" gave out -- b-ball slang for my knees no longer tolerating the demands of chasing basketball. I never was a very fast, just steady and fast thinking, but if you aren't there when the action happens, you just can't call it.
Yes! No one needs to remind me that age had something to do with it.
So, now with no basketball to fill the off-season, I expected to become a spectator rather than a sports official. Who was I kidding? Today the rowing off-season is almost as busy as the season. First, there was the convention in December in Baltimore. For me that included two and a half days of marathon meetings, for I am member of the referee commission that was holding one of its three per year meetings during the convention. We don't meet often, but we make a meal of it when we do.
Then, there is the planning for the next season, the booking of regattas, the accounting for the previous season in the paperwork -- now online -- of the annual data call, and many tasks associated with the commission's work.
The most enjoyable was last weekend -- our regional referee meeting and clinic. We held it in Albany at the Albany Medical Center. The meeting space was wonderful. It was arranged by one of the other referees. The day itself was jam packed. We met and reviewed our region's needs, strategized how to deal with a growing sport and too few individuals willing to commit to being referees, and held a clinic.
It is a requirement for keeping a license as a referee that one attends a clinic yearly. Sometimes these are presentations; sometimes they are chalk talks. This one included lots of time spent analyzing and second guessing how to handle situations laid out on a blue felt river. Nothing beats the felt river for a teaching aid. You quickly learn just how many ways the same situation can be viewed.
It was fun, and we all played beat the snowstorm trying to get home before the blizzard hit. This week included more work on putting a team together to work on updating some of our training materials and getting my ducks in a row for the next commission meeting that will be held in March. The first races will be on the water before I know it.
Better get out my stopwatches, flags, bullhorn and check to make sure that they are all in good order, or order replacements now. When I lived in Ohio my farmer friends used to tell me that the winter was in fact quite busy even with the ground frozen and no fields to work. I know what they are saying. So much for an off-season.