Zach Hinton had been through the intensity that comes with reaching the summit of college lacrosse. As a four-year defenseman at Maryland in the mid-2000s, Hinton battled Atlantic Coast Conference rivals and national powers for position atop the most-scrutinized level of play.

Lacrosse represented, in many ways, his life.

But life changes for all of us. Graduation. Jobs. A spouse. Family. Suddenly the battles change from containing’s Virginia’s attack to finding precious hours to do something related to the sport that once occupied so much more.

The solution for many, US Lacrosse illustrates in a new, member-supported video released last week, is to become an official — an avocation that provides lacrosse enthusiasts with flexibility, involvement in the sport, and additional income, among other perks.

“When my priorities started to change and lacrosse couldn’t be as big a part of my life as it had been, I found that officiating was a way for me to stay involved in the game,” Hinton, a men’s lacrosse official in Maryland, said. “But it provided a lot of flexibility. I could set my own schedule and still be around the game.”

Hinton will enter his third season of officiating this spring following an eight-year post-collegiate club playing career.

“I could participate (in lacrosse) and not just be a spectator,” he said. “I could still feel like I was a part of something. And if I needed to block a day off or a week off, I could do that, too.”

Hinton’s conversion represents a trend US Lacrosse hopes will continue nationally as its recently produced “Become an Official” video circulates among the lacrosse community. Several former college players participated in the shoot, bringing to life the highlights of officiating with behind-the-scenes images, interviews and GoPro footage.

“Officiating is something that has been a great outlet for me, post-college and during college,” Maddy Blakeman, a former All-Patriot League attacker at Loyola, said. “For people coming out of college, it’s a perfect outlet to stay involved.”

Lacrosse participation has grown steadily — sometimes by double digits — each year since US Lacrosse first issued a participation report in 2001. To date, the number of officials, a necessary ingredient to cover games and help players have a good experience, hasn’t kept pace.

“The video does a great job of showcasing officials as the very important third team on the field,” Charlie Obermayer, senior manager of officials development at US Lacrosse, said. “We remain focused on recruiting, certifying and retaining officials to meet the needs created by the growth in player participation.”

Learn How to Officiate with US Lacrosse

US Lacrosse offers a multi-level educational program to help former players learn how to officiate lacrosse and assistance with local officiating contacts.

Become an Official