CHS facing officials shortage

Charity Wessel

Last week, Custer’s school administration sent out a notice for those who follow school sports to be aware of the shortage of referees. Joey Kortemeyer, Custer High School activities director, is concerned this winter’s basketball game operations could be greatly affected because of the lack of officials.
“We still need game officials for middle school, C and JV level games,” she said. “We’re having trouble finding people to officiate and games have had to be moved because there’s not enough officiating crew.”
Kortemeyer clarified that officials don’t have to be registered with national certification in order to referee at this level.
“To be certified, they’d have to take a class, pass a test and do a certain amount of games,” she said.
However, with these lower level games, she said, “We’re looking for a person who played basketball in high school or college — a  person who has basketball knowledge and the basic rules of the game that need to be enforced.”
Current officials are retiring and Kortemeyer said she’s looking for people to take their place because “if you don’t have an official there, there’s no game.”
Kortemeyer said, “Games are every day of the week, except Wednesdays, and an official can do as many games a week as they want — they can do two games or six games.
“Officials are paid about $35 to $45 per game and it could be as big of a part-time job as you want it to be. If you have an interest in becoming a certified official, you could easily work anywhere in the Black Hills area — or there are assignments to stay local and help with our school sports here in Custer. You get to pick and choose your schedule with the times and dates you’d be available,” Kortemeyer said.
Current official and YMCA director Rex Jorgenson sees officiating as a sport itself and says the candidates “we’re looking for don’t have to be licensed/registered.
“There are afternoon or evening games that need officials and it’s a two-person crew, so the game is as fair as possible to have that extra set of eyes. You’d be reffing a game with an experienced referee who’d have your back.”
Jorgenson said Custer has the resources for referees/officials because many people in town “played basketball in high school or had a student who played years ago — or maybe you’re a college student who’s an athlete and you know the game.”
Speaking as to why there aren’t enough officials, Kortemeyer notes this winter’s games are also a chance for Custer to increase sportsmanship as officials in all sports notoriously have to take aggravation from crowd fans.
Officials are “not always respected and they take a lot from the crowd, and this is a reason not as many people are going into it,” she said.
Jorgenson echoed this by saying, the “downside of the reason why we’re having trouble getting officials are the people in the stands.”
To this end, Jorgenson notes the legacy of Custer’s basketball program and the advantage of how parents here are knowledgeable about the game.
Yet, basketball games have started this week and there’re not enough officials. Jorgenson said, “We have more games than crews and the last thing we want to do is see games get cancelled.”
“We don’t want to cancel games but that’s kind of where we’re heading. The games have to happen,” Kortemeyer said.
“We appreciate what officials do for our kids. Officiating is a way to make some extra money, to stay active/healthy, and it’s a way to give back to school athletics and Custer youth.”
People interested in the position may contact Kortemeyer­ by calling CHS, (605) 673-4473.

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