May 14, 2019 06:55 PM
A first of its kind event was set to take place Tuesday night aimed at trying to address a growing shortage of referees in Minnesota's high school sports community.
Without enough referees, games around the state are being cancelled. Minnesota has lost nearly 6% of its high school officials since the 2010-11 school year. Tuesday's event at Tartan High School was an effort to recruit and retain more referees to combat the shortage.
"If you feel that pull, if you feel that that might be a part of your journey and you would like to pursue this as an avocation we are there to help with the supplies and the information and to get you going," said Tim Leighton with the Minnesota State High School League.
The MSHSL has 8,300 registered officials across the state, but is hoping the recruitment workshop will encourage more young people to consider it.
Even though Minnesota is dealing with a shortage in officials, the problem here is not as bad as it is in surrounding states.
Between Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin 1,500 fewer officials are working today than just eight years ago.
"When your high school experience as a participant has been completed and for those that are finished at the collegiate level, there is an opportunity for those potential officials to give back," adds Leighton.
Jody Stay owns Pizza Barn in Princeton and provided food. It's something she's done for officials in her community through the league's Thank a Ref program this school year.
"We show up after they're done and off they go with a couple pizzas or a bag lunch from the Pizza Barn," Stay said.
Since winter, Pizza Barn has donated at least 100 meals to middle and high school officials.
"It's gone over so well and they are so appreciative, so we will pick it up in the fall with fall sports and will just continue doing it, " Stay added.
She hopes the move will catch on with other businesses around the state.
"It's just a way, at a community level, to thank the officials for coming into our community and doing this for the youth," she said.
Tuesday's event was scheduled to run from 6:30-8 p.m. in Oakdale.
Find more information about how to become an official here.
Updated: May 14, 2019 06:55 PM
Created: May 14, 2019 04:57 PM
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