Card 'Em: NCAA Umpires Asked to Emphasize Safety
PHILADELPHIA -- The ballroom at the Pennsylvania Convention Center was standing room only. Hundreds of officials had showed up to see a presentation on carding in NCAA women's lacrosse with Pat Dillon and Laura Hebert, a pair of nationally rated umpiring gurus.
"We expected 30 people," Hebert, also the Incoming Chair of the US Lacrosse Board of Directors, said to the crowd.
The demand for officials' education is higher than ever, as attendance at Dillon and Hebert's presentation demonstrated. It was one of 51 sessions at the US Lacrosse National Convention devoted solely to umpiring, a critical part of the game's growth.
While many attendees at the NCAA carding session had technical questions about how to enforce the new NCAA yellow card rules, which will create a true player-down situation for the first time in women's collegiate play, Dillon and Hebert's presentation had a more strategic bent. They gave NCAA officials the green light to card non-mandatory fouls, such as body contact and pushes, in the interest of keeping the game safe.
"Card the stuff that's not mandatory. Take it to the next level," said Hebert. "We have to step up as a group to do that."
In another session, Dillon and Kim Basner, NCAA national coordinator of officials, explained the women's umpires' points of emphasis for the 2012 season. Dangerous propelling, proper set-up on 8-meter shots and fouls that occur after a shot will be under scrutiny as teams take the field for the NCAA season.
"I think it's a call we need to make more often," said Dillon of dangerous propelling, which occurs when a ball carrier shoots or throws the ball without regard for the positioning and safety of other players. "The defender doesn't have to be hit, and it can occur anywhere, not just in the critical scoring area."
Dillon and Basner encouraged officials to clear out the arc properly on 8-meter shots, and to warn players to stand on the whistle and wait to be directed by the umpire.
Another well-attended presentation was the US Lacrosse Rules Interpretation, led by Lissa Fickert, US Lacrosse Women's Game Rules Committee Chair, and Ericka Leslie. The new US Lacrosse Youth Rules initiative has been well-received at the convention, as was evident when attendees clapped at the announcement that there would be no draw in the last two minutes of a half if a team had a 10-goal lead in a girls' youth game.
Other points of emphasis included obstruction of free space (shooting space), and holding attackers responsible for shooting safely (dangerous propelling). Fickert and Leslie also emphasized that repetitive minor violations could be escalated to a card as a minor deterrent.
Many of the sessions were US Lacrosse Coaching Education opportunities, allowing new umpires to earn official credits towards becoming US Lacrosse certified officials. For more information on US Lacrosse officials education, please visit uslacrosse.org.