Six in a row

Today, I was given a playoff assignment for next Saturday.  Good-sized school girls, two hours north of here (although I do not yet know what teams, obviously).  Two great partners I can travel to the game with: the same partners I had my first really big playoff games with five years ago.

I am honored and will do everything I can to masterfully not f**k it up.

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There’s a chill in the air. The season approacheth.

Howdy–I’m back.  Only a couple of ref-related controversies this off-season, so not much to think about or blog about in that regard (I couldn’t come up with anything to say about Duke/Miami, which was the biggest issue).  I’ve had my first rules meetings and I have had my first association meetings.  I am now in charge of teaching a quick class for the group of “varsity officials”–people think this is a sign that I’m moving up in the world, but I think it is a sign that I am just trusted with classes after what I’ve done the last two summers with the Rulebooks and Nachos group.  So I figured I am what I have been:  a solid playoff official.

And then my first batch of assignments came in (all girls, all non-conference early-season stuff):

#1:  State champ comes to town to visit state qualifier.
#2:  Two state qualifiers.
#3:  State runner-up comes to town to visit middle-ish program.
#4:  Routine girls’ game.
#5:  The two most storied programs in our county.

Now, I’ve had a handful of really big girls’ games in the past, especially in the non-conference part of the year.  I’ve been a part of some great crews with some amazing partners.  This year is different.  This year I am the crew chief in 4 of those 5 games, and with officials who are less experienced than I am.

I’m psyched.  Just a tiny bit nervous, but mostly psyched.  I feel like this might be a tryout for state tournament (which I don’t think I can attend this year due to work issues, but I’d be honored to be asked!).

So I’m going to think hard about my leadership skills:  pregame, coach management, unflappability.  And I’m going to double down on my Rules Guy persona.  People now believe I can’t make a rules mistake.  I am still fallible:  I can (and have) made Rules Gaffes.  But I can’t let that happen anymore.  I screwed up two this week I shouldn’t have in the Referee Magazine rules quiz.  Still kicking myself.

But I am all in.  Whatever combination of factors has brought me to this point, I am up for the challenge.

A feather in my cap, a challenge at hand…

I got another playoff assignment yesterday.  I’ll be heading 90 minutes up the road to do a loser-out playoff game for middle-sized school girls.  And I’ll be headed there alone, where I will meet up with two officials from an hour-and-a-half in the other direction.  Me, a small-city official, will meet up with two small-town officials.

I’ve done this twice before, both two years ago.  The first of these went fine, although, as I said at the time, “[i]t was tricky going from “Hi, I’m Paul” to working a playoff game in under an hour.”  The second was higher-stakes (a bi-district championship game) with more quality partners, and I was so amped up that I poached a little in the first quarter.  In the end, though, I won my partners over.

This game falls somewhere in between those two on the importance and challenge level.  I haven’t seen either of the teams, but the one with a superior win-loss record beat the one with a losing record (who made the playoffs via play-in game) by 18 last week.  It’s a loser-out-game, so throw the record books out, yatta yatta…but I’d rather be working people I know than people I do not know and whom it’s unlikely I’ll see again.

I am not the crew chief, so I’ll just have a couple of questions (maximum of two) that I’ll bring up:

–How do you want me to handle it if I have information from your area (out-of-bounds, 2- vs. 3-pointer, etc.)?
–How should we as a crew handle misses outside of our areas?

If I have answers to those questions, I then will be able to chill out and focus on my area.  In a way, I rather wish my two partners were from different towns, but my assignor says they’re both from the same rural association, so I worry about being odd man out.  But…hey.  Control what you can control and all that.  I can control calling my area, so I will.

I don’t want to read my assignor’s mind, but I can’t imagine he has too many mixed-crew situations like this come up, and this is the third he has given to me in three years.  I can’t help but view that as a positive: I’m the guy he trusts to represent out association to outsiders.  I’ll take that.

Five in a row

Got an assignment today for a game two weeks hence.  TBA at tiny religious school.  Two decent partners.  I checked the religious school’s girls’ hoops schedule…its regular season ends four days before this assignment.

Translation:  I’ve been picked for playoff games again.

I’m not quite as amped up and giddy as I was the first time I was picked for playoff games, which is to be expected.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not still incredibly honored and satisfied to be trusted this much.  Yay me.

High school season suddenly over. Dang.

Alas, alas.  I have been compelled to return two playoff games (one from Thursday and one from today) because my wife has the mother of all flus–a flu so bad that we visited the emergency room, a flu so bad that she can’t be responsible for the boys (not even “hey, you guys watch videos all day while Daddy travels north to referee”).  With my in-laws–our go-to source for free babysitting–on vacation, I am the only child care available.  So it will just be the one playoff game instead of three, barring an unforeseen (and unlikely) last-minute assignment.  But then again, whoever replaced me got an unforeseen (and unlikely) last minute assignment.  But I won’t hold my breath.  The year was still a success overall.  I’ve got 3 sets of junior-high games left, and that will do it for 13-14.

I’d like to thank the Academy…

Playoff assignment:  big-school girls.  Next weekend.  Two of my absolute favorite partners.  Heading up the road a piece for two teams I will have no familiarity with.

Let’s party.

And here come some more…

Three playoff games arrived in my inbox today.  I have a local big-school girls’ game shortly, then travel a couple of hours away for more girls games over the holiday weekend… the championship, literally the last game before regionals/state.

Wow.  I’m honored yet again.

A little bit of a milestone as well:  one of those weekend games is the first I will have that is not at an educational institution, but at an edifice designed exclusively for spectator sports (it’s a minor league hockey venue).  I’m pretty stoked about that as well.

None of these are loser-out, winner-to-state games, so in a way, they’re not as intense as some of the games I experienced two years ago (or even last year).  But in some ways, they’re bigger…the Monday game will be the second in a little over a week where girls will be cutting down the net while I’m in the locker room.  So that’s pretty awesome.  I’ve been keyed up all day about it…and my primary job is to keep myself calm now.

Weirdly, I have junior high games in the middle of all this playoff goodness.  Shouldn’t be a problem getting up for those.