New app aiming to help solve referee shortage

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The Boys State Hockey Tournament got underway Wednesday in St. Paul, with teams from across the state competing for their chance at a state title.

Teams have worked very hard to make it to this point in the season, with referee shortages also complicating things at times. That’s something that two young entrepreneurs are now working to help solve.

Wyatt Gustafson and Huck Sorock grew up playing hockey and are familiar with the issues posed by a shortage of referees.

“A lot of times we’d show up looking forward to them all day and then a referee wouldn’t show up,” Gustafson said.

“The reality is games are getting canceled left and right and just not being able to be scheduled,” he added.

That’s why Gustafson and Sorock are now trying to help by making a platform — Refr Sports — that can be part of the solution.

“We’re a company that’s trying to bring simplicity to the referee industry via technology,” Gustafson said.

Through their app, referees are able to sign up for the games they want to work instead of being assigned, making life easier not only for the refs but also for those having to assign them.

“It’s a simplified job so it will save me a ton of time. I won’t have to jump on the phone and make sure my officials are available, I can put those games out there and let the officials accept them if they want them,” Mac Nelson, of the Minnesota Hockey Officials Association, said.

Organizations and schools have their pick of referees at their fingertips and the referees have incentives to sign up through the app, like being paid instantly. The organization has money already loaded to the software so that, when a game finishes, referees get that money immediately.

“By bringing some freedoms to the industry, like the option to be paid instantly or to pick when they want to work, we’re hoping that’ll bring some more freedom to the job and hopefully make it more enjoyable for the referee,” Gustafson said.

The app is already available on app stores but Gustafson and Sorock are still working to build out the webpage platform with a goal of having it all ready for teams to use this fall.