Mercer Intramural Officials Program prepares students for more


Image: Photo Courtesy of Michael Castaneda

The intramural basketball officials are trained by the Mercer Intramural Official program.

Jayla Moody, Opinions and Lifestyle Editor

 The Mercer Intramural Official program trains students to referee intramural sports here at Mercer and to gain skills and experience at regional and national tournaments as well.

“We use officials for six of our intramural sports: soccer, flag football, basketball, softball and kickball,” said Michael Castaneda, Assistant Director of Recreational Sports and Wellness.

For each sport, returning officials or new officials go through a training and hiring process to referee for the upcoming seasons.

“They go through a different training process depending on the sport — usually it’s about 2-4 days,” Castaneda said. “There’s also classroom work and on the court and on the field work to learn.”

After the training process, perspective officials take an exam to make sure that their rules and knowledge is up to par. In addition, each official goes through pre-season games.

“It gives an opportunity for the teams to get some extra practice for the season, but the primary reason is for the officials to gain practice on live game action before the regular season starts,” Castaneda said.

They have continuous training throughout the whole season, including meeting every Monday morning for feedback and advice.

“Throughout the regular season each official works the games, but either myself or some of our committee evaluates them and through their performance, they get selected to officiate the playoffs,” Castaneda said.

This is an honor, and it’s an even greater honor to be selected to officiate the championship games.

“These officials receive one of our orange whistles and a recognition of being selected as a championship official,” Castaneda said.

To take it to the next level for each sport, officials are encouraged to pursue officiating for high school so that they know there that there are other opportunities outside of Mercer to officiate for income.

“We have officials that officiate for soccer and the high school basketball,” said Castaneda. “Some of them just do middle school and JV level, and some go up to do the varsity level.”

One Mercer official, Quaniece Spearman, officiates high school basketball and also participates in extramural and regional tournaments.”

The National Intramural Recreational Sports Association hosts regional and national  tournaments all around the country. Students receive bids to officiate at these tournaments.

We’ve had some students in the past and this year do well and receive a bid to officiate at the national tournament for both flag football and basketball,” said Castanedo.

This year, Spearman achieved a bid to the national tournament. She’s been officiating at Mercer for two years now.

“We’re basically competing with other officials and being trained at the same time,” said Spearman.

“I love officiating,” she said. “I’ve been trying to find my purpose in life, and this brings a lot of joy to me.”

Spearman plans to try out for a junior college officiating camp this summer, and she is hoping to get picked up or seen by a signer of the JUCO division.

“We try to provide many different opportunities because we believe by students going to these tournaments, they can not only learn for themselves, but they can bring that knowledge back into our own program and help our younger officials that we’re developing,” Castanedo said.