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Lack of referees a problem for area sports teams

Post Independent file photo/Kelley Cox
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The pool of certified men and women to referee youth to high school sporting events has always been shallow. Now it’s shriveled to the point where teams have been forced to cancel contests due to the lack of officials.”It’s always been an issue,” said Scott Zerfoss, who’s refereed soccer, football and baseball games across the valley for more than a decade.Unfortunately, with many veteran officials opting to hand in their whistles, the situation’s become dire.”There were 20-25 soccer youth games canceled last year, and it could be as many as 50 cancellations this season. The kids practice hard all week long for that one hour game, then it’s canceled. It’s really, truly sad,” Zerfoss said. The scenario’s the same at ball fields, gyms and soccer fields areawide.Instead of the recommended five officials for middle school football, some games have had to do with one. The same problem has surfaced in volleyball, basketball and soccer. To function smoothly, the National Federation of State High School Associations, from which most youth sports organizations base their rules, requires three officials. Many times, league and/or athletic directors are lucky to have one.”It’s so tough because there’s nobody new who has come in,” said football referee Dan Chicoine. “People just don’t want to get involved. It’s so bad that if someone wanted to work five days a week as an official – they could.”Both men said they have sacrificed pay from their regular jobs to be at games.Despite losing money with the decision, the choice was easy.”I love the kids, and I have fun most of the time,” Zerfoss said. “It’s not for the money. I truly enjoy the camaraderie with the kids and the coaches.”To help fill the void, both the Glenwood Springs Soccer Club and the local football officials association offer training classes.Community members interested in officiating youth soccer can attend sessions in New Castle starting Thursday evening from 5:30-10 p.m. Sessions resume Friday at the same time and conclude with a 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. session Saturday.Sessions and uniforms are free for Glenwood Springs residents. The fee, minus uniforms, is $50 to those who live out of the area. Call Zerfoss at 945-0318 for information.The Three Rivers Football Association is seeking new officials for middle and high school games this season. Training sessions are currently held Wednesday evenings at Glenwood Springs High School. Additional details can be obtained by calling Steve Cable at 945-2285 or Bill Zambelli at 945-7789.


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