Mike Medina remembers his first time officiating flag football games as an undergrad at the University of Maryland.
“I was doing these games and I was learning these rules on the fly, and I just kind of fell in love with the fact that you have this ability to be a part of the game,” Medina said.
Medina loves officiating, but as the associate athletic director of intramurals, but the best part in the job is helping the students.
“I love the fact that in my job I get to train student officials,” Medina said.
With a full slate of flag football games underway over the weekend, Medina held meetings last Wednesday and Thursday to teach student referees the basics of intramural sports, including flag football.
Medina served on the committee Sports Officials Development Program for Flag Football in 2007-08, helping amend rules that needed to be changed. Medina said the way flag football referees officiate is very similar to the way NFL and college football referees do.
“When you look at NFL referees, they’re some of the best in the business, so why wouldn’t you want to try and emulate that?” Medina said.
After becoming an intramural referee, sophomore Trevor Ensign said he gained a new respect for referees.
“I obviously played sports in high school and you just hate the refs,” Ensign said. “But when you’re on the other side, you start to understand that it can get pretty crazy and cut them a little slack.”
Medina said that society puts a high importance on officiating, as referees are placed under the microscope at some games.
“From a standpoint of when you look at our society, everyone is so critical of officiating,” Medina said.
According to Medina, there are between 50 and 60 students who serve as officials over the course of the year, and in total, there are 115 student workers, including statisticians and supervisors. Medina said that the intramural program has stayed constant over the past few years, stating the system includes around 5,000 students, faculty and staff each year.
“I will say over the course of four years, about 75 percent of students who come to this university will play at least one intramural sport because not everyone plays a sport every year [and] some people get injured and can’t play,” Medina said.
Medina said being a student official is not an easy job, but commends the students for going out and getting the experience.
“For them to come out and do this, it’s a difficult position, but they get some great leadership ability out of it,” Medina said. “I’m sure the paycheck at the end of the day is a nice little carrot at the end of the stick for them as well.”