MARTINS FERRY - The need for more officials in all sports in the Ohio Valley has been widely talked about for several years.
In all honesty, the problem hasn't gotten much better.
The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference is beginning to amp up the process of seeking and training more officials. It's beginning to do so through its inaugural Football Officiating Academy.
"The OVAC made the decision to conduct its own officiating academy to build on the successes of the past two years," said OVAC Football Commissioner Dave Clutter. "Recognizing the shortage of officials in every sport, it was determined that an effort similar to the NFL format could provide an opportunity to build on our officiating ranks."
The academy, which is intended for new candidates and open to anyone from across the Ohio Valley who is interested, will be held at Martins Ferry High School on Wednesdays for 10 consecutive weeks starting on May 21 at 5:30 p.m.
"We are thrilled to have Martins Ferry High School associated with the OVAC Officiating Academy," Clutter said. "When the idea was proposed, its administration didn't hesitate. The enthusiasm and cooperation has been outstanding."
The academy is free to attend and those who complete the entire program will become registered to officiate football at every level, below varsity, for the upcoming season in both Ohio and West Virginia.
"Both states require all new officials to work in a training scenario for two years, after which they become eligible for assignments to varsity contests," Clutter pointed out."
Along with the classroom work, which will focus on rules and professional development, there will be on-field lessons that work on mechanics and techniques.
The instructors for the academy will include OVAC officials as well as current working officials from throughout the conference.
"These classes promise to be informative, interactive and enjoyable," Clutter said. "This is a great way to stay involved with the game, get a little exercise and have a little fun."
There have been football officiating academies done in the Ohio Valley each of the last two years, but those have been conducted through the National Football League. East Liverpool hosted one in 2012 and St. Clairsville was the host for the 2013 edition.
"Our relationship with the NFL's Football Officiating Academy has been a positive partnership," Clutter said. "It's allowed us to identify and train new, quality officials within the conference."
For more information or to register, please contact Clutter at 304-280-6670 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org