NEW UHSAA OFFICIAL'S FAQ'S
It can be quite confusing to become a new Utah High School softball official. What do you have to pay? What do you have to do? Is there another chapter or association that you must join? How does this fit in with USA Softball of Utah officiating? And what is this about a Part 1 and Part 2 test? I recently had a text conversation with a newer Utah official that was coming from another state. I recognized the confusion and thought I would take the time to throw him a bone and help him understand, as I experienced the same confusion when I came into the softball program from baseball.
Below is the flow of the text conversation. I have added and corrected info as needed.
FEBRUARY 5, 2017 - I hope you had a fun weekend at the St. George tournament. I would've liked to shoot the breeze a little with you, but it was go, go, go, event. Is there a chance I could carpool down with you guys to the next tournament? I'll pitch in for gas. Driving my truck down and back by myself barely made it worth it this time. Haha. I think I made 5 bucks a game after expenses, but it was still worth it though, because I love it.
MICHAEL LEAVITT - I am not yet assigned to the next tournament, but am requesting to go. Carpooling would be great idea because they do not pay travel for USA Softball of Utah tournaments.
I am assigned currently for the second St. George tournament. I still have some brushing up to do, but I want to go and get some more game experience. I did not see the Orem high school clinic information. I did see the Midvale clinic info on Tuesday night.
MICHAEL LEAVITT - I think there is a bit of confusion. Midvale is the High School clinic. The Orem High School clinic is actually the Orem USA Softball of Utah clinic and school. It is NOT held at Orem Hign School and is NOT part of the UHSAA. Check www.USASoftballUtahUmpires.com under "Schools & Clinics". Keep in mind that the USA Softball of Utah umpire clinics and schools are treated kind of as the training arm for Utah high school softball. There is no other practical field and clasroom training available currently in Utah, so attend as many of the USA Softball of Utah clinics and schools as you can. The clinics are all indoors and the schools are mostly outside on the field practical training. You will learn something new with each one you attend.
So is this different from the high school one that was mailed to me?
MICHAEL LEAVITT - USA Softball of Utah schools and clinics are completely different from UHSAA live clinics. I have high school basketball games in Heber Tuesday night and will not bea able to attent the UHSAA live clinic. Instead, I will take the UHSAA softball clinic online in the days following the live clinic. The "live" UHSAA clinic will be a pretty good, but it makes little difference if you attend live or online version later. Obviously, if you can make the "live", then do so because you will get to meet people and there will be a speaker that is "NOT" part of the online version. You should also make sure to introduce yourself to Jeff Cluff and let him know that you are a new official in the state. The "live" version will also include sitting in a room watching a PowerPoint of the new rules and "points of emphasis". Do not wear a uniform as there is no physical training involved. The room will be packed, so arrive early.
MICHAEL LEAVITT - To become a certified high school official you must pay your annual fee of $55. This also provides your insurance coverage for the high school games. Then you have to pass an online Part 1 test and get at least 80%. I believe they allow you 4 chances. This is not timed and you can take part of it and return another day or time to continue. It is open book and the goal is to get you looking in the rule book, case book, and official's manual to learn the rules and guidelines. It takes me about 4-6 hours each year as I look up each question and re-read the appropriate rules. Nothing drives me crazier than seeing officials who just want all the answers so they can pass the test. They are the same officials that either freeze up on the field when a unique play happens, or they try to logic their way through a dicey ruling. Logic is good for some things, but knowing the rules will make you an exceptional official.
What do you know about the second part of the test that is optional?
MICHAEL LEAVITT - Those that are ranked officials and capable of post season assignments must pass the part 2 test with 90℅ or better score. You only get one attempt. I encourage all newer officials to take it each year. It doesn't get you post season assignments, but it shows your desire to be one of the best. After 3-5 years of officiating those assignments come starting with 1A and then 2-3A and ultimately 4-5A. Have patience and enjoy every game assignment between now and then. Don't stress too much over who is getting the plate assignment and who is getting Varsity games.
Okay, I'll get the part 2 test a shot. Do you have to pass it every year?
MICHAEL LEAVITT - Part 1, yes. But they give you 4 shots at it each year. Part 2 is required each year for post season HS state tournament work.
Should I just do part 1 online then?
MICHAEL LEAVITT - Both Part 1 and Part 2 are taken online. Part 1 was originally supposed to open February 1st, but it was delayed and now opens Feb 15th. Part 2 will be online later in March or April. Keep in mind that this is all separate from USA Softball of Utah. For high school you pay the initial high school fees and then you are required to join the local Chapter with about $35 dues and every other week 5:30 meeting throughout the school season. In Utah County, Phil & Becky Cappadonia are the assignors for both the high school and USA Softball of Utah games in Utah County. They do a great job and are very good to work with. Keep in mind that there is also a Salt Lake county association, and another up in Davis. Each has its own assignors and they assign the games in their areas. Since you are in Utah County you should join our local association. If you work in Salt Lake, then you might opt joining their association.
Okay. I already paid my UHSAA fees and registered. I'll go to the Midvale meeting on Tuesday. By the way, what do the high school games pay here in Utah?... And thank you for all of your help
MICHAEL LEAVITT - It is my pleasure. I believe the current game fees for softball are $38 for sub-varsity and $44 for varsity... I think it was upped last year or the year before. As you start you may only get a two man single 10th grade sub-varsity assignment. As you prove yourself you will get double headers with a JV and Varsity. Typically you will be assigned with an experienced senior official. You will take the JV plate and be the field ump for the Varsity game. First games usually start at either 3 or 3:30 and you are expected to arrive 30 minutes early to pre-game and get dressed. Varsity games are 7 innings and sub varsity are 7 or 90 minutes.... Or until it is too dark in the early season. Remember to be thankful and enjoy every assignment at every level. When doing Sophomore games just smile knowing they are paying you good money to master your mechanics!
$44 is still great money. I'll be grateful for any of it. I don't think it paid that well back when I used to do it in Idaho.
Dressing facilities for softball is horrific. This is usually done at your car. I have a pop-up nylon shower/changing room when I need to disrobe. I usually change into my uniform at home and then head to the assignment to avoid being immodest. We had an official who was charged with being indecent on school grounds when a Grandmother saw him in his undershorts. It almost turned into a conviction that then would have turned into sex offender status since it happened on school grounds. The details are not the important part of this real life event. The important part to remember is that you must take great precautions when changing on school grounds. Defending yourself due to the lack of changing facilities is a real hazardous part of our game assignments. Be modest and take the precautions to defend yourself against the whackiest of individuals!
MICHAEL LEAVITT - As a Utah County based official you will also have the opportunity to travel. The more senior driver gets mileage and the rider gets a minimal seat time fee, but as a rider you get the chance to ask lots of questions. For now, study your 2-man field ump positions and responsibilities. Know exactly where to stand on the field and your coverage responsibilities. Log into the Arbiter and go to the NFHS central hub and click on softball. Then find the videos and memorize the positions, coverages, and mechanics. Spend 10-15 minutes each days and your partners will notice. They will be the ones who spread the word of either your progress or ineptness... Smile and give it your best with each pitch, hit, and play! Shake off each mistake and don't repeat them... What we don't need is another umpire striving for mediocrity!!! :-)
IS THERE ANYTHING I MISSED?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention the uniform differences between USA Softball and UHSAA. When working a UHSAA high school game we wear no logos. This includes:
- 1) Navy Blue Hat - NO LOGO
- 2) Light Blue Official's Shirt - NO LOGO
- 3) Navy of Gray Ball Bags - NO LOGO
- 4) Heather Gray Slacks and Black belt (1.75" width looks best)
- 5) Navy Pullover with Light Blue Shoulder Stripes - NO LOGO
- 6) Black Socks
- 7) Predominately Black Plate and Base Shoes.
- 8) We should also have shin guards, cup (males), chest protector and mask.
- 9) Line-up holder, pencil/pen, indacator, timing device, and brush.
- 10) In the frigid snow storms of early season you might opt for face, ear, and hand protection. You might also use thermal bottoms, polar fleece under your jacket, rain coat, ball wiping towel, sunscreen, sun glasses, and even some "Cat-Crap" to keep your glasses from fogging up as your warm breath is exhaled during a pitch and you suddenly realize you can't see a thing... Yeah, try to make that call on the pitch! In the frigid rain, wind, and snow, do whatever you have to do to stay alive and officiate a good game!!!
The no logo gear can be purchased from multiple resources. The best jackets are found at www.Honigs.com, s they have a great fleece version. The no logo gear is also availble from the USA Softball supplier at www.OfficialGear.com.
UHSAA NEW OFFICIAL INFORMATION
The following was extracted from the UHSAA website
HOW TO BECOME A NEW OFFICIAL
Following is a step-by-step process in becoming a certified official for high schools in Utah. The UHSAA is the acronym for Utah High School Activities Association.
- 1.The first step in becoming an official is to register with the UHSAA. This is done by logging onto the web site www.uhsaa.arbitersports.com. Click on the registration link and choose the sport you want to officiate, then complete the process.
- 2.After the application is accepted, officials are entered into a database system and a packet will be sent out prior to the start of the sports season. Packets will include sport specific rulebooks and UHSAA rules clinic information. An open book 100-question rules test (Part 1 Test) needs to be completed on-line by the due date listed on the information sheet that accompanies the application form. Officials must obtain a minimum score of 80% to pass the Part 1 Test. If a failing grade occurs, then one free retake is allowed. A fee of $15.00 is charged for any additional retakes. Part of the registration process in becoming an official is to have a background check completed. This will automatically be done for you after you are registered.
- 3.Rules Clinics: A UHSAA staff member or their designee will conduct one new rules clinic before the season for the sports of football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball. The dates will be listed on the website and a meeting schedule will accompany the packet. An Internet Clinic will be available for officials and coaches until the first day of the Part 2 Test. The rules clinic consists of new rules, NFHS points of emphasis and their interpretation for the specific sport. This
is mandatory in order to be a certified official.
- 4.The next step is to contact the local officials association. The names of the local association leadership are listed in the Officials’ Guidebook. Joining a local association is vital, as assignments to work games will be issued for sub-varsity games from the association arbiter. The local associations will conduct meetings, which are geared to provide additional rules training, game evaluations and information regarding association policies and procedures.
PART TWO TEST
The Part 2 test is mandatory for post-season varsity officials; however, the test is available and encouraged for all officials.
- The test is open book and requires a 90% accuracy to pass. No retakes are allowed for the Part 2 Test.
- The test can be taken anytime up to two weeks after the initial test day. Dates for the test are listed in the information sent with the packet.