Crew Chief Qualities

This summer I was asked to present on leadership qualities and the qualities of great crew chiefs.  I found this topic to be challenging because I feel like it is the area I struggle with the most.  There are certain crew chiefs I admire greatly, and I covet some of their skills. Some people are just so good, they have you leaving the game thinking about their leadership.  A few who come to mind are Troy Winders from Kentucky, Dawn Marsh of Georgia, Penny Davis of Washington, or Bryan Enterline of Indiana.  I believe they have the “it” factor of being a crew chief.  Their styles are different.  Their personalities and training as diverse as it gets, yet they have “it.”

Though each crew chief is different, many share certain characteristics.  I have come up with eight crew chief qualities I have witnessed over the years and strive to attain and improve in myself.

Great crew chiefs:

1.Create a safe environment

2.Inspire and motivate

3.Display integrity and honesty

4.Manage People : Manage Situations

5.Build relationships

6.Have subject matter expertise

7.Give information freely

8.Prepare for the worst, expect the best

I will expand on each of these qualities in separate posts, but today let’s focus on the first of the eight qualities, creating a safe environment.

Have you ever had the feeling your games just go so much smoother than anyone else’s games?  Have you ever felt you are ready for the next level because your season goes without controversy?  If so, thank your crew chief(s).  What I have found as I advanced from high school to small college and small college to Div II and from entry DI to being a crew chief, is that the last year I was at each level, my games were C-R-A-Z-Y, crazy!

It is true.  The last year I officiated high school I had ejections, T’s, crew issues, etc.  I was on the phone with the boss more than I was on the floor, it seemed.  The next year, as the U1 or U2 at higher levels,  I didn’t give a single technical foul.  hmmm, coincidence?  I believe it’s more than that.  I believe the last year I was a high school crew chief, I had been given increased responsibility by my assignors.  It was my duty to create a safe environment for my U1 and U2 and to “protect” them from the drama.  It was my job as the crew chief to T the coach who was out of line with my partners.  It was my job to help my young partners earn credibility with coaches by putting them in the safest situations possible.  And I was being trusted to do so, without big-timing them.  (key to success)

I believe so many crew chiefs have done that for me along the way.  At the high school level people like Jeff C, Rick D, Robert J, and Robert S protected me without me even knowing.  These guys are all still officiating and I am certain they still protect many young referees like they did me back in the day.  They are at the top of their leagues year after year and part of the reason commissioners and assignors love them is because of how they treat those passing through the league, either on the way up or the way down.  They are class acts who can be a leader on the crew as the R, U1, or U2. Without doubt they handle the game and create a safe environment for people like me working to be a better crew chief.

Two reflection questions:

  1. Are you creating a safe environment when you are the crew chief or do you create an environment of doubt and uncertainty?
  2. Can you think of a time when a crew chief protected you in a situation and you didn’t even realize til years later?


Our next post we will explore how great crew chiefs inspire and motivate and display integrity and honesty.


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Frogs On A Log

Today we begin with a riddle:

There were five frogs sitting on a log when four decided to jump.

How many frogs were left on the log?

Screenshot 2016-05-22 11.42.55

Answer – Five.  The decision to jump didn’t equate to actual jumping.  Because the four frogs decided to jump didn’t mean they actually jumped. So we still have five frogs on the log.


I have a stack of pages ripped from Cooking Light magazine in a little drawer in my kitchen. The pages contain recipes of great dishes, drinks, or storage ideas I want to try.  My system is to make the recipe from the stack, and after trying it and liking it (because I always do), I write it out on a recipe card and store for future reference.  But I must confess, pages of recipes I intend to make, far exceeds the recipes already made.  My intentions have not equalled actions.

As we approach summer and schedules tend to change with families and kids, what are your goals?  Have you made your intend-to-do list?  Does it include spending more time in the yard, hosting friends and neighbors, taking time off, losing weight, or improving your officiating schedule?  Once you have set your goals, or made your list, have you made an execution plan. As Tom Landry says, the goal is not the main thing.

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. – Tom Landry

I hope you are prepared for your camp and have been doing what it takes to be mentally and physically prepared.  I hope you have goals for your officiating season and you are building an execution plan for achieving your goals. Each year I write my business plan for the season and I look at summer camps as one of the steps to execute my plan.
If it will help you, here are 5 things I do to execute my plan BEFORE attending each camp.  I do this every camp, every time.  Even if I attend 5 camps in a summer I do this before every one of them.
1. I do a refresher of the last 2 year’s rules changes so the language is fresh in my mind
2. I look through my game notes from last year to review any feedback I received from my assignors, regional observers, etc.
3. I read the Camp Teaching Points BEFORE going to camp.
4. I work on my image.  Being the girlie girl that I am, I make sure my nails look polished yet discreet.  I check my weight, the fit of my pants, and how I will style my hair to ensure it stays back and looks professional
5. I review my CCA manual for refreshers on coverage and mechanics


I am interested in knowing what you do before every camp to prepare? If you have suggestions for our group for being mentally and physically prepared, please share below.

I wish you the best this summer with all of your goals, including those in officiating.  I leave you with a super short quote by the legendary John Wooden.

Be prepared and be honest.  John Wooden


Posted in The Game, The Relationship, The Rules | 4 Comments

MIG – Remember This?

Everyone remember June’s commission to all officials this year?  MIG – Mind In Game.  I know October may seem light years in the past, but we are still in this season and now, more than ever, we have to have our Mind In the Game.  We have to be ready to make clear decisions on the jump ball.

This week I was officiating a game where a violation occurred on the tip and then I saw a clip from a friend where they had to also make a decision on whether or not there was a back court violation on the tip.  We must know what is legal activity on the initial tip of the game and be ready to blow our whistle as instinctively on that play as we would on an out of bound violation.  It is end of season and every possession counts in every game, every night.  We cannot take plays off mentally.

So these last few games of regular season and the entire post season – be ready on the tip.  As I was doing some refresher on the rules of the jumper, the players around the circle, front court/back court, etc., I came across a great blog from the Illinois High School Athletic Association.  It is a great read on what is and IS NOT a back court violation in high school basketball.

Additionally here is a clip of information from the NCAA women’s basketball rule book.  Be ready to name and administer violations from the tip.

Section 9. Jump Ball Art.

1. It is a violation when:

a. The ball is touched by one or both of the jumpers before it reaches its highest point.

b. Either jumper leaves the center circle before the ball has been touched by a jumper, catches the jump ball, or touches it more than twice.

c. When after an official is ready to make the toss, a non-jumper moves onto the center circle or changes position around the center circle before the ball has left the official’s hand.

d. A non-jumper has either foot break the plane of the geometrical cylinder that has the center circle as its base, or any player takes a position in any occupied space before the ball has been touched.

Art. 2. The toss shall be repeated when both teams simultaneously commit violations during a jump ball.


If you have any plays on the tip you would like to share – please share and let us know what you did in the situation.

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Life is About Moments

Ahh, the new year!  It is the time of year when people begin thinking about what the coming year will bring – what changes they will make or promises they will keep.  They anxiously look ahead.

But a few years ago I read a book that inspired me to spend this time of year in reflection.  John Maxwells book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth was a game changer for my thinking.

Like other parts of our life, in officiating we are running so fast from flight to flight, and game to game, that we don’t truly value reflection.  I am the guiltiest of them all – always planning, running, doing and rarely just reflecting and recording my thoughts.  Honestly it is part of the reason I began this blog three years ago – to force myself to reflect on the business of officiating that has been my passion for nearly two decades.  I want to give you three of the I’s of Maxwells book you should use to direct your reflection:

  • Investigation- Ask questions, dig into the situation, find out exactly what happened, both good and bad. By fully investigating the experience you can uncover what went wrong, what went right and what you can learn from it all.
    • Think of the game situation where coach really blew up for what seemed like no reason at all.  Why did she run down the sideline and scream at you and then your partner over what seemed like a very simple, textbook travel call?
  • Incubation- Maxwell says that reflection should be like putting your ideas and experiences in a slow cooker to simmer for a while. Don’t just give them a passing thought and move on. Truly mediate on them and see what you can learn.
    • This is where I use my friend Melissa* (changed for anonymity).  Sometimes I can take my perspective on the event or game or situation and then I just run it by her.  She thinks through it like a coach for me.  She is kind of like my idea incubator!  And then what she’s really great at, is asking me about it a few days later to see if I have spent time meditating on it myself.  Are you incubating your ideas with someone or are you going back after an amount of time to review the thoughts.
  • Illustration- Use your experiences to tell a story. Write out the lessons you took from it, how it made you feel and what you will do different next time. Maxwell calls this putting meat on the bones of your ideas. Come up with action plans for implementing what you learned.
    • One of things I think is the hardest about layered plays is actually naming the action correctly.  For example is it an F1, contact dead-ball technical, player/substitute technical or administrative technical?  If you can name them – you can assign penalty and you can adjudicate the consequences of each action in proper order.  But what if you can’t name the sequence of events because you’ve never seen them and reflected on them before now?
    • In life, we are faced with repeat situations, and if we can identify them, we can adjust our response based on previous learnings.
    • So take a game situation that you didn’t like – and rather than pout or blame or hide from it – write out the situation.  Write out the questions you asked your partner, the questions they asked the table, etc and learn from those micro-moments.  Understand how coach’s question made you feel.  How would you like to handle it differently?

And then I am going to close today’s post with my own “I” action post reflection.

  • Instruct– “While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca.
    • I believe people who take the time to teach others work harder to understand, recall more accurately and apply more effectively to their own situations. So learn from your moments, reflect on them, and then share them for someone else to learn.

This week we start a whole new year!  But before we get to 2016, take time to reflect on 2015.  What did you learn? What situations did you handle poorly? Officiating success happens in the moments – so learn from them.

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There is No Smiling in Officiating



Aware of oneself, including one’s traits, feelings, and behaviors

I am a girl.  I wear emotions on my shoulders.  I multi-task.  I am able to take in alot of information at once. I love hot pink, bling and accessories. I love life and live with a smile. I am… I am.. I am…

I am alot of things and one of my best qualities is that I am self aware.  Self aware to also know that I am bossy, and sometimes appear unapproachable.  Though I can talk to anyone, I am not a good small talker.  I am not working out as much as I should.   I know that sometimes my behaviors and traits prevent my advancement in officiating.  I am aware.

Today, as part of a two day seminar for my business, we are discussing self awareness. What I am hearing is easily transferable to officiating.  One very true indicator of an official’s ability to progress is her ability to objectively assess herself.

One thing Charity told us today is that when she first moved from California to Washington D.C., she learned really quickly that her cute pink scarves and the cute pink heels simply prevented her from being taken seriously.  She didn’t have to be told, per say, but she was getting the gist.  If she wanted to be taken seriously on the Hill – the pink had to go!

Hot Pink in DC

Hot Pink in DC

Similarly, at a young age, I was told I smiled too often and was having “too much fun” on the court, which implied a lack of seriousness.  But I am a smiley person.  I am a happy person.  So, at a crossroads, I had to ask myself, “How do I remain authentic in my personality and yet drop all the smiliness?” This was not a question I really wanted to answer.  I actually was having fun officiating and I was happy to be there and the athleticism and competition does make me smile.  So dang it, why should I have to quit smiling?  And really what does smiling have to do with my ability to call a foul?

At age 22, 24, or 25 this seemed like a big compromise to, not smile.  But in true self awareness I adjusted.  I took the less smiley approach.  I appeared more serious on the court.  And as we all know – their perception is their reality.  And after some time, some of those officials much older than me or more senior than me began to take me more serious.  They began to trust and like me – and I didn’t even smile at them.  🙂

So going into this season – are you seeing yourself as others see you?  Are you really self aware?  And if you are told you are too smiley or too frumpy or too lazy or too late or too whatever, are you going to make a change in behavior to help you advance?  Or will you do as you have done in years past and make excuses as to why that shouldn’t really matter?  Will you continue to wear a high pony tail when you have been told the low pony tail looks better?  Will you continue to have that lazy walk/run step you’ve been asked to change?

This year is your year to improve.  This is your year to make those tweaks and changes in your game to advance further into post season.

Because the little things do matter.  And after having spent a decade proving I am serious, focused and intense, I have built relationships with partners and now we smile together on the court.  I am my smiley, bling – loving, girley self more often in the officiating world now that I have been in the trenches and proven I am a serious, rules-knowing, calm when the going gets tough kind of referee. I have earned my smile back.

What trait or quality do you need to adjust to advance?  I would love to hear stories of your self evaluation.

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