I am happy to report that last night I was selected to be part of the Division 1 Championship game. That game is firmly in the books where it belongs, and now I can look back at the entire experience.
First, this camp was tremendously worthwhile. I learned things about my game that I had no idea about. The feedback I received, especially from the championship game, just reinforced that I still have a lot to work on to make myself the best official I can possibly be.
Second, any official who wants to take their game to the next level should work a LAREDO event. I feel that I’ve been given the tools and critiques to take with me back home to work on every game from now until the regular season starts. I know that when games get going again in Georgia, I will be a much more capable and confident than I am now.
Third, if you come to a LAREDO make sure to have a thick skin. For the most part, I got good evaluations, but I did get ripped on a few things that were legitimate concerns of the observers. The key thing is to understand that the observers are there to catch the things that could impact future games in a negative manner. So if they don’t say anything, there is a problem because they don’t feel that you are worth the critique. If they do say something about a poor call, or a missed mechanic, or bad positioning, it is because they feel you have potential to move to the next level.
Fourth, I think it is important to go to a LAREDO event (1, 2, or 3) when you are ready. I signed up for a LAREDO 3 after my third season, but was unfortunately not able to make the trip for it. This turned out to be fortunate because if I came out here last year, I would have been way over my head. So before you sign up for a LAREDO, talk to whoever watches out for you in your association and get their feedback on whether or not you are ready for the level of play you will see at one of these camps.
Lastly, enjoy the experience. Soak it up and have a blast while your out at one of these camps. Every time out I took a second to look around at the mountains ringing the fields, or the lake at the far end of one of the main fields I officiated on. It can be too easy to forget that you’re just reffing a game, and to take things too seriously. I’m pleased to say that I got the very most out of this experience that I could, and I would do the whole thing over again in a heartbeat.