People in stripes play integral, yet unnoticed role in world of sports

Scott Viau

When watching a sporting event, most people are focused on the players on the field, not the people standing or running along the sidelines. It’s these people who need to have a keen eye for what’s happening, and it’s often their call for whether or not a play was good or if the points just scored were valid.

For sophomore media production and new technology major Adam Holloway, making sure the rule book is being followed is his job.

Holloway is an officiator for men’s ice hockey. He said he decided to ref the sport when he realized his talents did not lay in playing the game itself.

“I just want to do it, because when I started, I wasn’t any good at hockey and I knew that I could direct my talents toward something else,” Holloway said. “It just snowballed from there.”

To become an officiator, Holloway said there isn’t an actual training camp for those who are interested. Applicants need to skate well and thoroughly know the rule book.

“You can’t be someone who comes in and is just learning about hockey the first day and expect to be able to ref the next day,” Holloway said.

He also likened refereeing to being somewhat like a politician, as there are different relationships that need to be handled well.

“If you’ve got a coach who’s getting irate, you can’t jump right back in his face because you lose credibility,” Holloway said. “You’ve got to be able to calm (the coach) down, explain things and make sure things are understood.”

When it comes to actually making calls, Holloway said that in the rulebook, the procedure is pretty cut and dry, but that there is some leeway.

“It’s upon the referee’s discretion with certain things. If there’s no intent there, I can leave (a penalty) at a two-minute minor,” Holloway said. “However, if I feel there was intent, then in my opinion I can go ahead and assess the five-minute major, the game misconduct and maybe even the match penalty.”

The match penalty means that a player cannot play in a game until a meeting has been convened, and then that board hands down the punishment.

Holloway said some people might think that because he’s a Northern student, his decisions will favor NMU, but said that’s not how he views a team.

“I see a team in white and a team in red,” Holloway said. “It’s one of the reasons why when we’re out on the ice we don’t refer to them as Marquette or Negaunee.”

While Holloway said he tries to remain as unbiased as possible, he said that perhaps in his subconscious there might be influence from the crowd regarding which to way to make a call.

“You’re going to call the game the way you see it, and that’s all that can be asked of you,” Holloway said. “The first thing they teach us at the ref seminar for USA hockey is that you’re not there to please everybody.”

Senior secondary education history and political science major Callie Youngman has been a line judge for NMU’s volleyball team for two years.

“Mainly, my job is to be an extra pair of eyes for the up ref and the down ref,” Youngman said.

Youngman said she is a huge fan of volleyball, having played the sport for two years prior to officiating for it.

“I’m going to be (at the game) anyway so I might as well be helping out in some capacity,” Youngman said. “I miss playing the game and this is a way for me to still be involved and it’s a lot of fun.”

Youngman said that people interested in becoming line judges do not need to have played the game. She added that most of the line judges are older men who have just played volleyball recreationally.

“Anyone can get certified through the Michigan High School Athletic Association. They offer classes and give tutorials on how to get certified,” Youngman said. “You just have to go through the training and take a test. You don’t have to have any playing experience at all.”

Youngman said she is able to keep the game fair and objective, because she respects the game more than anything else.

“I feel that trumps any of my alliances or biases to Northern,” Youngman said. “I’ll make the call, and it doesn’t matter who the outcome favors.”