In a game not too long ago my partner and I left the field and discussed what we could have done better. I mentioned I didn’t consistently focus on when a foul would release by looking at the score clock. He mentioned that he wanted to come in bigger on a wiped goal. That was it. We walked off that field and drove out of the parking lot knowing we put out maximal effort as individual officials and showed excellent communication and consistency as a crew.
My friend and I talked over the phone the next day and found out that both of us woke up that morning knowing we gave both teams a good game. What was even better was that he and I were non-factors in the game. The players played, the coaches coached, and we only stepped in when needed, which wasn’t much as both teams played under control pretty much the whole game.
This is as close as officials get to winning a game. We get to step off a field with the rest of our crew and know without reservation that the crew did a great job. This is certainly a pride-filled moment, but like winning a game, the moment must be fully enjoyed and then put to the side before turning to the next game. Consider what tends to happen to a team that wins a very hard fought game, then two days later has to play the brand new lacrosse program in their conference. The players know they won a tough game earlier so maybe they get to slack off a bit in practice, or not take their next game as seriously as their last one.
The best teams around the country avoid that situation because their coaches never let them forget that winning a game against a strong opponent does not automatically put a notch in the win column against a weaker opponent. Officials can fall into this trap, and while we don’t have coaches to keep us on track we do have our fellow refs.
My friend and I got to feel really good about how we communicated to the players and coaches, and especially good about how consistent we were in our calls from the first whistle to the final horn. We patted each other on the back, but also reminded one another that the game was over. That way neither of us falls into the trap of thinking we’re too good for our next game.