I have backups for my backups. Extra whistles, extra flags, extra scorecards, extra pencils. You name it I’ve got it stocked in a verifiable Honig’s shop in the back of my hatchback. My very first scrimmage ever back in 2008 I pulled into the school parking lot and met the assigned referee. I thought I had everything I needed, but after looking into his car I realized I only had the bare minimum of supplies needed. Seeing the shocked expression on my face my partner told me he accumulated all of his extra gear after many seasons, and if I stuck with officiating I would have a similar collection. That wound up being a very true prediction.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having backup gear. The most critical being a backup whistle because if you break or lose your whistle during a game you are screwed. My original backup whistle was a lanyard Fox 40, but I have since switched to a backup finger whistle kept in my rear left pocket. I have yet to break a whistle during a game, but on occasion I have forgotten where I put my main whistle at halftime. Typically, I clip it over my belt but sometimes I put it in one of my front pockets and then I’ve have a mini-freak out before the next face off wondering where my main whistle is. Not to worry, my back up is always in the same place!
Another useful backup to have is an extra hat for two reasons. One, it is possible that your partner will show up without a hat. When this happens you can save the day with your backup hat. This preserves your partner from getting snickered at while on the field for forgetting his hat, and you get to forever mock said partner for their lack of hat. Two, hats get dirty and they stay wet. One day you’ll have a game in the pouring rain, throw your hat into your bag and forget it after finally pulling into your driveway at 11PM. Then you’ll pull into your 5:30PM game the next day and be horrified after opening your bag to see that your only option for this game is to wear a hat that looks bad and smells worse. I did that all of one time, and then started keeping an extra hat in my car.
The last major backup I recommend is a backup timer. Now, before I get into this I want to stress that if you are starting off as a lacrosse official you need to get a timer. Let me repeat that more strenuously: Nothing makes my blood boil more than watching an official visibly count a 20 second clear during a game! Throw down the $55-75 dollars it costs to get a decent timer, put it on your hip opposite your dominant signaling arm, and relish the fact that you are now a cyborg. Once you get a timer there isn’t a need to purchase another one for another season or two unless you really want a backup. The cheaper option is to buy plenty of extra batteries and keep a small screwdriver in your ref bag.
One of my good ref friends told me that my car is so organized that it makes him sick. I replied that I feel sick if it isn’t organized. We all have our ways of finding what we need, but no matter how your organize your gear during the season always bring extras of your most frequently used items.