OT: Urgent Need for High School Sports Officials

Ok, fellow TKP'rs.

There is an urgent need for high school sports officials nowadays.


  • Ensuring this next generation has the opportunity to enjoy the sports we love.
  • Working with a great bunch of folks - your fellow officials. They aren't the evil you believe they are.
  • Make pocket change and wear cool clothes.
  • Have fun, stay active, and remain connected to sports you enjoy.

With the pandemic and other factors, a lot of associations are struggling to fill slots - to the point of schools are having to adjust game schedules around officials' availability in some cases. I'm working 10 volleyball matches this week - 3 tripleheaders and a single.

VHSL Officials

If you're in the Roanoke / NRV and are interested in volleyball, hit me up directly on Twitter or Facebook Messenger

If you have questions, feel free to ask away in the comments. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction.

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


As someone who has always been interested in getting into officiating but has no actual experience, how hard is it to get started? As best as I can tell from those links, you have to take exams in the given sports and that provides your ability to referee. Is there any in person training required, or is it all online?

I have no idea how they are doing it with Covid, but years ago when I was a soccer and volleyball ref, I had to take in person courses and pass a pretty rigorous exam. I'm assuming it is the same for most sports, but you typically have to put in your time before you can be the lead official. Using soccer as an example, all refs start out as a linesman before becoming a center ref.

I need IMs across all sports at Tech, Volleyball was easy (I also used to play though). Flag football was hardest, basketball, soccer, and softball not too bad.

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

It's actually not too bad in Virginia. Look at the "associations" list and find the contact person in the sport and Region of VA. From there, it's $45 to the VHSL (less for additional sports). You go online, watch a clinic and pass the rules test. Read the rule books first then keep them handy. The test is good way to learn the rules.

You'll have to do some training with the local association usually, or be mentored in some fashion. Most use Arbiter for scheduling, evaluations, payment etc. The key is just reaching out and asking. The association usually has a flat fee as well - most are $50-60 per year.

The web sites don't do a great job explaining or recruiting new folks - that's part of why I wanted to start the discussion here.


And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...


I have been a baseball umpire for 33 years, started at 16, and finding new officials in any sport is getting more and more difficult. As a side job it is great money if you have the time but most new officials do not last long because of a long list of issues. I have parents, coaches and players that think they know the rules better than I do and that is frustrating. Having arguments with scholastic and rec coaches over things that make no sense is getting ridiculous. Do I make mistakes? ABSOLUTELY!! But I own those and correct why I made the mistake.

If you have a thick skin officiating is a great way to make extra cash but is it worth the hassle is a question you have to ask yourself.

Define extra cash? I love soccer to death and always considered trying officiating but never had the time til now a days.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

At least locally for baseball I know that we get around $40-45 for 10-12 year old groups. Not bad for a couple hours outside. Obviously it goes up with the higher age groups.

Locally, I think soccer is around $25-$40 per game (A/R versus center ref) for travel soccer (maybe u13ish?) It's been a little while since I inquired about it with our local club so they may have increased their pay since then. I believe it's more as you get older age groups. High school should run you more than that. There is a guy in Roanoke (RVSOA) that runs a class 1-2 times a year both in Roanoke and Blacksburg. You do online units through US soccer before the class. The class is 1 day. Pass that part and you are good to go for U18 and below I believe. You are responsible for purchasing your ref shirt, cards and flags I believe. Once you are certified, there is a software program (locally Arbiter) that you get entered into and it shows all available games. You can select as many or as few as you like right online. I'm sure other states/localities run it very similar for both travel and school soccer. I know locally to the NRV we have always needed soccer refs. I think you go back each year for a half day clinic to keep certified.

I found this website for the USSF certs for VA (from the VYSA website):
Ref Cert

If you have a thick skin...

Well, I'm out.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

How much do you make per game these days

Free Hugh

U8 single umpire-$45
U10 2 umpires- 43
U12 2 umpires 48
u14 54
Jv 80
Varsity 90
Juco/D3 125
D2 175
D1 350 and up

What do high school officials for various sports make these days?

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

A high school soccer ref in NJ can make like 75 bucks per game

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I know the question was about high school, but the money jumps pretty quickly if you move up to the college level. DIII basketball refs average 150ish a game and it can go up to $700 for DI.

MUCH more than that! I had a guy that I know quit his regular job so he could travel and referee more basketball games because he makes more from November to March than he does for all year at his regular job!

It really depends on the sport; Volleyball is $35 - $50 per match with 2-3 matches per assignment for Referees and $35-40 per match for Line Judges (Varsity only). Softball and Baseball are $70-$100 per game (Slight increase for working the plate - foul balls and all that...). Basketball can be $65-$100 per game. Associations negotiate with schools, so there's some variability but its always transparent - Arbiter shows what your pay will be. In some cases you can accept / decline games, you can block dates or specific times on dates so ultimately you control when and how often you work.

And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...


I've done it. Parts were enjoyable. But the fans, the players, and the coaches really make it difficult sometimes. Which pretty much means everyone involved makes it difficult.

And then there is the issue of politics and drama within the officials associations. Another giant headache.

I would recommend it for anyone with a serious interest. But, if you're just casually interested, stay away. Also, you have to be able to travel early and be out late. A job that wont let you leave at 3:00 isn't going to be accommodating for this sort of scheduling.

Yup- did rec hoops for a couple years, and a summer tourney ended it for me. Being yelled at like I was an inanimate object was too much. My skin is not thick enough. County rec was ok, but beyond that was not for me.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

The bad is overstated. Yes - there are some coaches, players and fans that are vocal. But mostly the players and coaches at the HS level and above are much better than Rec league.

In today's world - there is zero tolerance for poor sportsmanship in HS. I can honestly say that knowing the rules, being professional, and being consistent really goes a long way. I have worked 13 HS volleyball matches in 8 days, some of which were state-caliber teams with good crowds, and it's been fun. There are always calls that people don't like, and I miss a few. I'm human and I own them with my crew and even coaches as needed.

I - and most of the good officials I work with - try to be invisible. The players are there to play, coaches to coach. We are there to ensure a fair contest consistent with the rules, not make a name for ourselves.

I also do softball and have done a ton of competitive basketball and can provide more insight for anyone interested. I was also NASCARs officiating training manager, so I have a pretty good perspective. I got way more stuff thrown at me in those days - now those are stories....

And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...


South Carolina is struggling with this as well. They are having to schedule some high school games on Thursdays and Saturdays to insure having officials.

The commissioners are working twice as hard this year; with some officials doing multiple sports we're fortunate to have High School AD's that are being flexible on start times and schedules. If officials have days blocked 'til 5 - schools are moving JV start times to 6, scheduling days other than the normal, etc.

With people constantly moving in/out of quarantine it's a constantly moving target and its a cooperative effort to ensure the kids get to play.

And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...


How much does volleyball pay? I work high school soccer for RVSOA. Love doing that but don't pay attention to volleyball.

"It's a miracle in Blacksburg, TYROD DID IT MIKEY, TYROD DID IT!"

Depends on a few factors - but generally $35 -$50 per match with 2-3 matches per assignment. It's pretty straightforward. Other sport vary, but in general a HS official is looking at about $90-110 per evening I'm softball, basketball, baseball, volleyball etc. The money is never going to compete in terms of a hourly rate but it's definitely worth it, at least to me. It's fun.

And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...


i'd actually consider some sports, but not til my daughter is done playing. currently a sophomore playing vb.


"My advice to you... is to start drinking heavily."-John Blutarsky

People get paid to officiate high school? We were all volunteers growing up

If anyone is interested in learning how to umpire baseball in the 757 let me know! We are always looking for more officials and I am an instructor.

My brother refs HS football and basketball as well as D3 Football in Wisconsin and he loves it. Its definitely a big time commitment especially the D3 football. But in terms of player, coach and fan treatment he says its really not bad. You'll get some boos and rarely some cursing directed at you but it basically doesn't get much beyond that. I don't think he ever had to eject a coach and has only had to have one fan booted from the venue in like 10+ years of doing it.

I mean D3 has to be better than lots of places, I can't see fans being that bad than just boo don't penalize my team. The parents , coaches, players have to realize this is now just for fun, no one is going to the NFL.

I just can't see it being anywhere close to as toxic as middle school and high school games where some asshole parent thinks their kid is the greatest, or some coach that does the job just to yell at people.