Thursday, April 22, 2010

Upgrade Soon

7! I can't really describe the happiness, and relief, that I feel today.  I finally passed my grade 7 assessment, so I should be upgraded shortly.  It's been a nearly 2 year long endeavor and I've gone through quite a few lows to get here, having failed 2 assessments along the way.  All of that said, I've really made a lot of improvement over the last 2 years as well.  The entire process has exposed me to a higher level of officiating that I would not have otherwise experienced.
In my state, the upgrade process happens like this:
  1. Submit your game log for inspection
  2. Register for the upgrade class and pass the written test
  3. Pass the fitness test
  4. Pass an upgrade assessment
 The process seems so simple, doesn't it?  Yeah, right.  That's what I thought.  Before continuing, I should point out that the upgrade process is described in detail in the Administrative Handbook.  Everything you need to know is in there.  Your state may implement the process differently, so work closely with your state committee.

Submit Your Game Log

You do keep a game log, right?  You should be logging every game you do.  I use Google Docs to keep mine.  Any spreadsheet application will work.  You can even use a piece of paper.  Whatever method you use, log your games, even if you have no intention of upgrading.  You never know.  Your log should include the date and time of the game, both team names, the location of the game, the names of the other referees, your role in the game (AR, Referee, or 4th) and the final score.  You can probably dream up a few other things you might want to track.  In order to upgrade, you're going to need this.  Currently, the 8-to-7 upgrade requires 75 games as the referee and 25 games as an assistant.

Upgrade Class

Next, you have to get 5 hours of "Intermediate Level Training."  In my state, there is a formal "upgrade class."  I understand that some states have an intermediate class, open to all who want to attend.  Whatever the case may be, you need the 5 hours.  You must also pass the written test with a score of 85% or better.  I've never understood why new referees only need a 75%.  It seems to me, 80% or 85% for new referees isn't asking for a lot.  I got a 99% this time.  That perfect score is eluding me.  I always get within 1 or 2 points and then zone out on some ridiculous question!
The content of the class itself is more advanced than what you'll experience at your annual re-certification.  You probably won't see any review of the LOTG.  You will see presentations on more abstract topics like game flow and player management.  If you can get the intermediate class, do it.  It's worth it.  The content will make you a better referee, regardless of your desire to upgrade.

Fitness Test

I find many referees are terrified of the fitness test.  In reality, it's not that hard.  For grades 7, 6 and 5, there are 3 parts of the fitness test:
  1. 12 minute run (Cooper Test)
  2. 50m dash
  3. 200m dash
First, a 12 minute run, or "Cooper Test", is performed.  Basically, you run around a track for 12 minutes, and you are measured on the distance you are able to cover.  At my age, I am required to run 2000m, or 5 laps, on a track.  It's really not that hard.  That amounts to about 9:30 per mile pace.  That bar is pretty low.  This year, I managed about 2500m.  My first time through, I went a little further, but I realized there wasn't any point to that and I think it hurt my sprints.
After the long run, there are 2 sprints; One is 50m and the other is 200m.  My requirements are 9.0 seconds and 40 seconds, respectively.  I do OK on the 200m, beating the time handily, but I struggle a bit on the shorter sprint.  I really need to concentrate on going all out to make sure I get that time.


Ah, the assessment process...the bane of a referee's existence...
If you've never been assessed, I suggest trying to get one done.  Basically, it works like this:  You contact your State Director of Assessment with the details of a game you are going to referee.  They send out an assessor and this person watches the game.  After the game, you have a post-game debrief where the assessor will give you feedback about your performance.  You then receive an assessment form. Upgrade assessments have a score that indicates whether or not you passed.  Developmental assessments do not indicate a score, but are very useful in getting an idea of the things you need to improve.
In the case of an upgrade assessment, the game can be deemed un-ratable, meaning you didn't fail, the game just wasn't adequate to get a good idea of your abilities.  Because assessments can be tough to arrange for some, this can be quite frustrating.  For an upgrade, the game must be U-17 or better, with 45 minute halves and you must have ARs.  In my area, there are not that many of those games, so they aren't easy to get.  Once you get it, you have to get the assessor out to see it.  That is not guaranteed.  So, to go through all that and have the game be un-ratable is tough.  Fortunately, it didn't happen to me.  However, I know MANY referees that have had un-ratable games.
Last year, I failed two assessments.  For upgrade, you are required to pass one.  If you fail it, you must pass two.  That's why I had two.  My first one was at state cup.  Honestly, I had a horrible game.  I was so focused on the assessment that I made myself very nervous and didn't do well at all.  Also, I don't think I was ready.  I didn't have enough U-17+ games under my belt.  A few months later, I had another assessment on a U-20 game that honestly, I felt I should have passed.  The thing about assessments is they are very subjective, just like refereeing a game.  That second failure ended my upgrade effort last year.
Interestingly enough, when I did the ODP tournament last spring, I received several developmental assessments.  Two of the assessors actually asked me why I wasn't a 7 yet!  It just shows you that the process can be frustrating, but you have to stick with it and keep going.  I'm proof of that.
Starting in 2010, there is a new assessment grading system in place.  I don't know all the details, but the new form is clearly based on the 2009 directives and is far less subjective, in my opinion.  I had my passing assessment this year on a U-19 game.  The game wasn't that hard (it was rated "easy"), but hard enough to be ratable, fortunately.
So, there is is!  I'm finally done with the requirements for my grade 7 upgrade.  In the next couple of weeks, I have to be sure to follow up with my SDA to make sure the "administrative upgrade" paperwork is done, but that should be it.


Some people have asked me "What does the upgrade get for you?"  That's a really good question.  The reality is I probably won't get to grade 6.  The game requirements are such that I'd probably have to start doing adult games instead of youth to get to the required game count any time soon.  I'm not sure I'm willing to do that.  I'm in my 40's.  Although my fitness is excellent, I'm going to start slowing down at some point, so I have a time window to get the game requirement done.  I think getting the 7 upgrade has done a few things for me.  First, it is the "stamp of approval" I personally needed for taking this job seriously and making an effort to do it right. Second, it gives me the opportunity to become an assessor and maybe work with new referees and help them along.  Last, it gives me additional credibility to get better games when going to assignors that I haven't work for previously.
Going forward, to keep my new grade, I have to take the fitness test every year.  Some see it as a hassle, but I see it as a reason to keep my fitness up.  Some states require a maintenance assessment each year as well.  I don't believe mine does.


Unknown said...

That is great info on the upgrade process. Very appreciated.

Wojciech said...

Thanks for the info. Quick question though..I'm taking the upgrade exam over here in NJ and was just wondering as to the kind of questions that are asked? I was told to review not only the LOTG, but ATR, Week in Review, etc. Thanks in advance.

The Referee said...

Yes, I am from NJ as well. The questions are similar to what you see on the re-certification test. You'll want to review the LOTG, but I would spend more time on the ATR. Also, don't forget the Guidelines and Procedures. Consider doing this: Read a single law in the LOTG. Then, go and read the corresponding section in the ATR.

Wojciech said...

That's a great idea, reading one law then the corresponding ATR. Thanks so much for the response!