Students Campaign to Recruit Referees

January 6, 2022

Student athletes at Susquehannock high school are getting involved in a new dilemma- finding officials to referee high school sports games. 

Athletic Director Bradley Keeney explains why the number of referees are diminishing. 

As it stands right now, we are losing officials in every sport,” Keeney said. “ The main issue being, many are retiring or opted out due to COVID, and we have very little younger people getting involved. In most sports, we do not have enough officials to cover regularly scheduled play dates. The main concern moving forward is we will soon need to start moving games or even canceling if we can’t get officials to cover. This is already happening in many sports.”

The idea was brought to business teacher Kellin McCullough’s marketing class by head principal Kevin Molin. 

Molin is the York Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association (YAIAA) President, which allows him to be aware of the situation. 

For all sports, the YAIAA is beginning to lose numbers as they are struggling to find referees interested in refereeing games. 

Once McCullough’s selected students heard of the dilemma, they began to find a way to bring in new referees for the county.

Selected marketing students work on a campaign in order to try and bring in more referees for the 2022-2023 school year. Sophomore Krish Patel, junior Gavin Leone, senior Zach Pecunes, junior Olivia Agostino, and junior Evelyn Weldon are a part of the select few that are working on this marketing campaign. Photograph Courtesy of Evelyn Weldon

Senior marketing student Zach Pecunes is involved in this project and explains the first steps that were taken. 

“Our job was to come up with ideas, at first, for a campaign for recruiting,” Pecunes said. “We started by creating a goal statement for our campaign, identifying a target market and ways to promote being a referee and the new benefits we want to give to those who become referees. One of our ideas was to come up with a rewards system for the game officials, so they feel a sense of motivation to become a ref.”

Finding ways to bring in referees was going to be difficult, especially during the time of a pandemic. 

Not only are the referees not participating in this year’s sports seasons, the numbers will continue to decrease over the next few years. 

Junior marketing student Evelyn Weldon knows how important these strategies will be. 

“We are hoping that our promotional strategies will attract and encourage people to become referees,” Weldon said. “Our group will meet and present our strategies with other schools to try and get everyone on the same page about our plan. We are trying to get referees for the fall, winter and spring season of 2022-2023, so we are working on it for next year [as that is our main focus]. However, we may use these strategies in the future.”

As the numbers decrease, it is important to find more referees. 

While we view sports from the competitive lense, high school athletics serve as a learning opportunity that provides real-world learning experiences,” Keeney said. “They truly are an extension of the classroom.  Without officials, none of this happens. Beyond recruiting officials, we as a society need to help create an environment that welcomes their participation.  Quite frankly, we need to be kind to them.  They give up a lot of time, for not a lot of money, simply to provide opportunities for our student athletes.”

The selected marketing students will continue to come up with new plans and strategies, approved by Molin, in order to propose them to other schools. 

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