Advancement in the SDCFOA

It is a well taught premise that successful officials take pride and enjoyment in working their current assignments at their current position. Constantly “longing” for the better assignment or the better position on the field, is a sure way to miss the fun of “the moment”. Advancement comes when an official takes pride in their current position and works each game, no matter the level of play, like it’s the Super Bowl.

Natural advancement comes when an individual proves his worth to his crewmates by preparing properly for all contests, arriving on time or even early, taking instruction from others well, demonstrating competence in mechanics and judgment, communicating effectively and generally being a good person. When this is consistently achieved, natural attrition along with the advancement of others will offer opportunities for advancement.

All officials begin their careers at the youth level during their first year. Some first-year officials may also get opportunities to work at the frosh or even JV levels. A first-year official obtaining a varsity assignment during their first year is most commonly caused by need rather than achievement, although the best at that time is selected for those assignments if the need exists.  First year officials mostly work the HEADLINESMAN or UMPIRE positions. The SDCFOA believes these assignments provide the best training opportunities for the newest officials.

Second year officials are still in the “probationary period” of development. The second-year officials receive more advanced training in the classroom and consequently more advanced assignments up to and including varsity assignments.  It is during the second year that officials will begin to see assignments at the HEAD LINESMAN, UMPIRE, and LINE JUDGE positions.  Receiving assignments at the LINE JUDGE position is an example of advancement and officials who receive such advancement opportunities should feel rewarded for their fine work so far in their short career and work hard to master the more technical responsibilities of this new position.

By attending the required number of meetings and passing the rules and mechanics tests, the second-year official becomes eligible for the draft his third year. If selected by one of the crew chiefs at the draft, the third-year official will work at either the HEADLINESMAN or UMPIRE positions during their varsity contests. The 3rd year official will also be receiving youth assignments at possibly the LINE JUDGE position and may work the LINE JUDGE position with his crew on frosh or JV high school games. It is also a good thing for an official’s development as a flank official to be prepared to work as an UMPIRE and for an UMPIRE to work on the flanks. Learning other positions is a great way to better learn how the different positions work together, and best communicate, within the crew concept. 

The natural advancement of certified officials is then to move from the HEAD LINESMAN position, to the LINE JUDE position, and finally to the BACK JUDGE position in the draft.  Natural UMPIRES tend to stay at their position, but all officials can see evidence of their improvement by watching their own ratings rise over time and being drafted annually.  Receiving playoff assignments are also to be considered confirmation of your progress and acknowledgement of your hard work and talent.

Once an official is drafted as a BACK JUDGE, or is an umpire receiving annual playoff assignments, they might consider applying to the SDCFOA as a youth REFEREE. This is a very important position in the SDCFOA and only the best leaders and instructors are selected.  The criteria, application, and selection process can be found on our website. Once selected as a youth REFEREE you will also be considered for REFEREE at the Frosh, JV or even Varsity level. 

It is also at this time in an official’s career (5 years in the association and in the top 50% of the ratings) that an official may consider joining the NCAA program in San Diego.  Information on joining can be found at or you could speak with a college official that you know.  It is very important that only the best high school officials seek this VERY ADVANCED and HIGHLY ACCOUNTABLE level of officiating.  The NCAA meeting schedule is published each year on our website.  Meeting begin in May.

And the final step in a distinguished career could be the selection to be a crew chief.  On an annual basis all current crew chief are asked to nominate officials who should be considered for this assignment. These nominations go to the SDCFOA Crew Chief Selection Committee for consideration. The selection committee also reviews the performance of all current crew chiefs to confirm their leadership still meets our Association standards. Crew Chiefs are only selected for one-year terms and must be re-selected to serve each year. New crew chiefs are selected as needed after the re-selection process is completed by the committee. The assignment secretary recommends the number of crew chiefs to be selected each year. Once the committee has finished its selection process, their work goes to the SDCFOA Board of Directors who makes all final decisions regarding crew chiefs. 

The committee and board also select a limited number of developmental crew chiefs at this time for two purposes: 1) to replace a crew chief who can no longer serve their one-year term; or 2) to develop their skills as a crew chief and determine their potential. This list of usually five (5) development crew chiefs is only ordered by the #1 and #2 candidates. These top two (2) candidates are identified and listed in the order that they would be used to fill any vacancies in the regular crew chief roster. The other developmental crew chiefs are not listed in any order.  All of the developmental officials will work two (2) games under the supervision of their crew chief.  The top members on this list will also have the opportunity to go work games as a white hat on their own as needed by the assignment secretary. Crew chiefs know that if they draft an official on the developmental list, they are agreeing to allow the developmental list official to work the proper number of games as the white hat.   Being on this list does not mean you will be a crew chief.

As much as there is plenty of room for advancement for talented officials who work hard, advancement within the SDCFOA comes naturally to those who just “enjoy the moment!”  Officials should not try to over-achieve or “climb” to the top. Let it happen naturally and be excited for the success of others!