As lacrosse continues to grow, the need for qualified officials grows hand-in-hand with the jump in participation. And who better to officiate the game than the people who have played it?

That’s the thought of US Lacrosse and the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association, and both groups are working with current and recent college players to introduce them to officiating.

The two organizations are conducting training clinics for the players and then getting them out on the field to put their knowledge to use. The first training session took place on June 3-4 at the new US Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md., and the second event was held last weekend in conjunction with the IWLCA's Brine New England Cup at the University of Massachusetts. A third, and final summer session, will take place in conjunction with the Syracuse Nike Camp from June 27-28 (sign up information).

It’s been a hit.

“I’m working in an engineering department and I’m at a desk all day,” said Naomi Miller, a 2014 graduate of Mount Holyoke College who participated in the Massachusetts event. “It was nice to be on the field, running around in the game I love. Everyone was so welcoming, and so helpful.”

For Haley Schweizer and Maddie Bodden, a pair of rising seniors at Johns Hopkins University who took part in the Maryland event, the chance to stay involved in the sport as their careers wind down appealed to them. And like, Miller, they found a home among the other officials.

“There were so nice and so welcoming to me,” said Schweizer. “You see them under the tents at tournaments, and you can see they have that sense of community.”

Bodden also coaches with the Coppermine Lacrosse Club based in Baltimore, but found herself in a player’s mindset as she got ready to officiate her first game. Some habits are hard to break.

“When I was setting up the draw, I was looking for my mouthpiece,” said Bodden. “And every time I heard the whistle blow, I stopped.”

There’s a lot to learn, even for people that have been around the game their whole lives.

“I definitely went in overconfident and thought I knew everything,” said Miller. “There’s so much going on — body language, temperament, hand signals. The first game was a whirlwind, but it’s nice to have the perspective of a player.”

Even with that perspective, there’s a learning curve.

Bodden found herself wanting to blow the whistle when she’d see a foul, and then realizing that sometimes by stopping play she was taking an advantage away from the team that was fouled.

That’s to be expected, but as they continue to officiate, it becomes more natural.

“After doing nine games last weekend, I came off the field feeling like I’ve been an official all my life,” said Schweizer.

Schweizer has coached the last three summers, but as she gets ready to move into the career phase of her life, she thinks officiating might be an easier way to stay involved with the sport. And officiating has other benefits.

“I do like the running and getting the workout,” said Schweizer. “I had my FitBit on last weekend and I ran 11 miles.”

Miller has a simple piece of advice for other recent graduates.

“If you miss lacrosse and are unsure of how to get involved, get out of your comfort zone and try it out.”

Sign up for Syracuse Nike Camp officiating course.

Officials Education Program

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