We all love to cheer on our kids and grandkids when they play high school sports, such as football, soccer and volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter, but when there are no officials, there are no games.

Chairman for the Missoula football officials pool, Josh Rollins told KGVO news on Thursday that the need for officials is even more pressing after the COVID year.

“We're definitely really starting to feel the pinch as we have more and more older officials,” said Rollins. “We haven't had a ton of new officials join over the past several years, so we've been moving a lot of varsity games that you typically see on a Friday night, either Thursday or Saturday or even asking some schools to move what would normally be a seven o'clock game up to like a four o'clock game. So it's starting to really affect the game and the kids, and we don't want to get to a point obviously, where we see any games canceled.”

So, what does it take to be a high school football official? Having played the game is a great head start.

“What we're really looking for is really anyone who's interested in helping us officiate and giving back, and it can be a little bit of a time commitment,” he said. “But we usually have really good luck if we can find some young kids who are former players who just graduated in the last year or two or maybe going to the university and if they're done with classes in the early afternoon or mid afternoon and go out and work some of these games, we get you all trained up and you can earn some good money while you're doing it.”

However, Rollins said even those who just enjoy watching the games can be trained to be officials, if they’re willing to learn, both men and women.

“Our pool meets once a week, and we meet on Wednesday nights,” he said. “We will be holding our first meeting next week and we'll meet over the next 10 weeks every Wednesday night and we will do some on field training. So you’ll be out on the field where you actually learn the mechanics and learn where you need to be to be in a position to make good calls.”

Rollins said a call to the Montana High School Association is the best way to get started as a high school football official.

“The best way if you're interested is to immediately contact the Montana High School Association, and their phone number is 406-442-6010,” he said. “Or if you look on the Montana High School Association website , there are tabs for getting registered as an official. So those are probably the easiest two ways, and I would encourage you to if you are interested, to call or sign up early because like I said, we're going to be starting training and meetings here in the next week and get people going, and before you know it the season will be started and kicking off here on the 27th.”

(photo courtesy of Dave Peppenger)


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