HELENA — The Montana Officials Association consists of three rating classifications – apprentice, certified and master. An official must serve a minimum of two years at each level before requesting an upgrade to the next level.
But once they’ve reached the master level, there’s no where else to go and no more advancement.
And that’s where Correct Call Officials Camp comes in, set to return for its 10th year in June.
The camp was created by longtime high school and college basketball official Rob Tesch, a Choteau native and Montana State alumnus, to help high school officials in Montana learn from veteran referees and develop in their respective pools.
“I believe officiating is probably the only profession where there's not any continuing education required,” Tesch said. “Once you become a master official, you don't have to do anything else. So I think with the evolution of the dribble drive, the outside game, 3-pointers, we need to revamp our guidelines and what we need to do as officials to get better looks at plays.”
The goal of the camp is to teach Montana high school basketball officials to over-communicate and under-officiate. That’s done through classroom instruction and on-court evaluation from the camp’s staff of 16 volunteers, which is comprised of some of the most experienced officials in the state.
“What we’re going to tell you is that it’s not black and white. But we are sharing our experience, what has worked for us. And then it's up you as an official to go home and see what you want to implement and how you want to officiate and just become a better official,” Tesch said. “So it's not us telling you how it’s done and this is the way you have to referee it. It's just giving you our experiences in those certain situations to help you as an official.”
The camp also aims to clear up misconceptions about officials. By and large, every referee that puts on the uniform does so for the right reasons. For most, officiating is a part-time job but it’s certainly not just a hobby. It’s a craft that requires finely tuned skills, and the staff and attendees take the responsibility seriously.
"You know, it's a science, there’s an art to what we do and I just love to pass that on. The biggest thing is we want consistency. We want games officiated throughout the state the same way,” Tesch said. “And so we just want to stay out of the way, let the kids play, let the coaches coach and let the fans be fans.”
The camp will run over two weekends, June 4-6 in Helena and June 25-27 in Lockwood and Billings. For more information or to sign up for the camp, visit the Correct Call Officials Camp website.