Back at camp this year, at the urging of a clinician, I decided that the most important area for me to improve in was that of leadership. Of course, nobody really says much about what that means, so I’ve been trying to figure that out of the fly.

My assignor certainly helps out by assigning me almost exclusively as crew chief these days.  I imagine that, if this year is similar to last year, he’ll begin putting me on bigger girls’ games as a U1 or U2 later on, but I nevertheless think that seeing all the R on my schedule means that I’m trusted.  And this year, for the first time, I feel worthy of that trust.  I’m trying to tease out why, and the result will be this post.

As best as I can tell, the main reason that I feel more comfortable as a leader this year is that I simply feel more comfortable as a leader.  In past years, I’ve always felt rather like a poseur as crew chief, and was rather deferential.  For whatever reason, I just don’t feel that way this year.  Every time I’ve gone into a locker room to start a pre-game, I’ve felt deserving of that.  I’m not a generalissimo in the locker room or holier-than-thou, but I am team leader, and I take that seriously.  Thus far, so have my partners, who have given me very high marks in my partner evaluations.  It is as if I have become team leader merely by believing I am capable of it.  Part of me wishes that I could have just had this mindset last year when I started getting assignments as the R, but I doubt it would have made any difference.  I think I had to go through feeling like a poseur in order to gain confidence.  The same is true in most jobs with a leadership component (I know it from teaching, and I imagine many of you have had similar moments in your day jobs as well).

Thing is, I don’t throw my weight around and act bossy (at least I don’t think I do) as many of my more senior colleagues do (often without knowing it).  I don’t see it as my job to change the personalities or even the tendencies of my team members until there’s a problem. I just see it as working with people well.  I’m starting to get comments like “Well, now that I’m getting a regular slate of varsity games, it’s my job to learn from people like you.”  And while I don’t feel more worthy than many of my colleagues for a comment like that, down in the world of mercy-rule girls’ games, I’m serving a key purpose…and I’m obviously trusted there, since I did get playoff assignments last year (and I have no reason to think they won’t happen this year either). Still, there’s something to be said for leading a team (like Picard) vs. leading through bossiness (like Kirk).

The next step, as I see it, is getting onto our association board.  The baby/toddler combination in my house means I won’t run this year, but I’ll run next year.  I think I’d make a good teacher and a good Rules Guy, and I’m hoping to have each of those roles within a few years.

It’s all a part of leadership, and leadership capacity is changing in me rapidly this year.


About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

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