TAUNTON - Taunton High School students are learning from a different type of playbook. They are getting schooled inside and outside the classroom to become future referees.
The Sports Officiating Class is a first of its kind in Taunton and part of a school to work program. "Where we are able to give them the background, the knowledge of rules, the mechanics, the training, everything they need and hopefully we can place them out into the officiating workforce," Taunton Public Schools Athletic Director Mark Ottavianelli said.
This particular class is made up of juniors and seniors. Here they get full course class credit and learn more about the games they love to play. "We learn to officiate different sports. The rules of the different sports. Right now, we are doing soccer. In the winter we will do basketball. Fundamentals how to ref, what to call, and hand signals," senior Tyson Carter said.
Ottavianelli says he hopes this can help with the shortage of referees taking place in high school sports. "There is definitely a shortage of officials. Especially since the pandemic. We have shortages in football and soccer, we are changing game times. Football we are playing Thursday nights," Ottavianelli said.
The school partnered with RefReps and the MIAA for the curriculum. The lessons are all based according to the National Federation Rules. The students spend one week in the classroom and the following week on the field. It's a yearlong class of various sports.
These students say they are learning valuable life-skills lessons and also earning good money on the side.
"Once they have successfully completed this course to start working our sub varsity games," Ottavianelli said. "Our middle school, our freshman, and possibly our junior varsity games."
"I have a new gig that I can get money for on weekends or in the summer if a need a little more money and I can stay in the sport that I love to do," said Jillian Doherty.
A total of nine sports are being offered for the Sports Officiating Class with plans to expand in the years to come. "It makes us all better to want to succeed and want to get things done and learn. I want to take it because l love sports and make a career out of it," Carter said.
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