The Recruiting Coordinator for GRALOA is Steve Cullen. You can contact Steve with any questions you have at (248) 974-4198 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initial steps to make it happen:
- If you want to officiate middle school and/or high school sports in Michigan for schools that are members of the MHSAA (which includes most schools in the greater Grand Rapids area), you will need to register with the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA). This is an annual requirement. You can get started by visiting the MHSAA website. You can also view the “Principles of Officiating” slideshow from the MHSAA if you would like.
- You should also join a local officials association for the sport. In West Michigan, for Boys Lacrosse, we (GRALOA) are that association! You will need to register with us.
- This will get you started with some initial training, tests, etc. for the sport. Once you contact us, we will have some handouts and information that will provide more details.
- Once you register with GRALOA, we hope to assign you a mentor that will help guide you through your development. We will also put you in a training program to get you ready for your first game experience.
- You will need to get some uniforms and equipment. Again, once you register with us, we will provide you with the information you need to make that all happen. You can reference our GRALOA Uniform Requirements document if you want/need additional details.
- Scheduling for games is done through an online platform called “Arbiter”. The GRALOA leadership will get you set up with an Arbiter account and our association assigner will assign you games for your level of experience. In Arbiter you can “block” your schedule for days/times you do not want to be assigned games, so you control your availability. Of course, the more you are available, the more games you will do.
- Expect to start at the youth level (5th/6th grade and 7th/8th grade games) for your first year. Opportunities to officiate at the JV and Varsity level can come after that. We also have several members of GRALOA who officiate college lacrosse and they can inform you on how to move up to that level.
- THE LOVE OF SPORTS / GET IN THE GAME
- If you love sports, you will have the best view of the game as an official.
- Officiating will teach you how to view the games in a whole new light – one that emphasizes fairness, integrity, decisiveness and sound judgement.
- Being an official will give you access to, and an appreciation for, the rules and strategies of the games like nothing else can.
- Many officials like to pay it forward to the sport for what it has given them.
- Officiating is also a way to guide and enrich the lives of the athletes who are playing, by teaching the value of sportsmanship and fair play.
- STAY ACTIVE / GET PAID
- Get paid to exercise!
- There is no better part-time job or hobby for you to make extra money doing something you enjoy than through officiating.
- It’s the perfect extra gig for anyone from a high school student, to a parent to a retiree.
- CAMARADERIE & COMMUNITY (often cited by current officials as the #1 reason they officiate)
- The fellowship and humor officials share with one another are incomparable. You’ll quickly realize there is no community like officials.
- LIFE SKILLS, CHALLENGE, OPPORTUNITY, EXCITEMENT
- Officiating teaches independent thinking and the ability to see the big picture — a skill that translates outside of officiating.
- It also requires the dedication, togetherness and ability to work as a team that is important everywhere.
- Every game — no matter the venue, player abilities or teams — is a challenge. Nothing is mundane. It’s a rush to be in the moment and have to make the big decision.
- Even if people don’t know you specifically, many people associate officiating with trustworthiness, impartiality, dedication and integrity… all qualities that can open doors for you in other areas of life.
- Great games, talented players and hair-raising moments will become commonplace in your life, and you’ll be right in the middle of them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Why do I have to join MHSAA?
Answer: First, simply, it’s a requirement to officiate MHSAA contests. But, it also provides standardization across the state for officials and, perhaps, more importantly, will provide insurance to officials who are working an MHSAA contest. Your rule books will come from the MHSAA.
- How much will uniforms cost?
Answer: You will need, at a minimum, one long sleeve shirt, one short sleeve shirt, one set of long pants, and one set of shorts. You will also need a belt (black), hat (striped), field shoes (all black), undergarments, and some pairs of black socks. Additionally, you will need a finger whistle, two flags, a timer, a small tape measure, and a standard lacrosse game card. This will cost you about $400. Personal preference (and reality if you are going to do multiple games in a week) will mean you are going to want more than the minimum for shirts, pants, shorts, and socks. There are specific requirements for the uniform, so we will help you with this as needed. The GRALOA Training Team will provide you with good information on where to get your uniforms and equipment and also which brands are best.
- How much will I get paid?
Answer: Currently, youth games pay about $50 per game. You will often do 2 (or more) youth games in one day/evening at the same location. JV games pay about $55 per game. Varsity games pay about $75 per game. The “heart of the season” is from the end of spring break to about the end of May. So, you will have a solid eight weeks where you can work multiple days/evenings each week. If you work 3 days/evenings a week, doing two youth games each day/evening, you will make $300 each week you do that. Many officials work 5 to 6 days/evenings per week. There are also tournaments where you can work multiple games over the weekend; this is also a good source of income. Most of these tournaments happen during the summer, after the regular season.
- Do I need insurance?
Answer: The short answer is yes. When you are officiating MHSAA contests, that insurance (liability and medical) is provided through your MHSAA registration. (Medical coverage is always secondary to your personal primary health care insurance). If you are working a non-MHSAA contest (i.e. a tournament), you need to have officiating insurance per our by-laws. We highly recommend joining the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) where one of the biggest benefits from that membership is their insurance for any contest you are officiating.
- Do I need to join USA Lacrosse?
Answer: The short answer is no. However, we (GRALOA leadership) highly recommend USA Lacrosse (USAL) membership for all of our officials. There are significant training resources available through USAL. Also, there is insurance through your USAL membership; although it only covers you if you are officiating a USAL sponsored contest (of which there are very few in Michigan).
- Do I need to be in good physical condition?
Answer: Yes. Boys lacrosse officiating involves a lot of running and you must be able to do that. Through our training program, we can offer some tips on how to get in shape for the season. And, actually, one of the benefits to officiating boys lacrosse is that by the end of the season, you are in great shape! (And, you got paid to do it … nice.)
- What schools will I officiate for?
Answer: We (GRALOA) primarily serve all the high schools in the Ottawa-Kent (O-K) Conference, and their associated middle schools. Additionally, many of the schools north of Grand Rapids that have boys lacrosse (i.e. the Traverse City area) will use our officials. The person who assigns the officials to the games is called an Assigner. The Assigner is the central point for your schedule. If there is a school that you would have a conflict of interest in officiating, for whatever reason, you would let the assigner know that.
- I have a question that is not listed. How do I ask that question?
Answer: We will do our best to answer any boys lacrosse officiating questions you have. If the question is about how to get started officiating, start by contacting our Recruiting Coordinator (Steve Cullen). His email is: email@example.com; his cell phone is 248-974-4198. For other questions, visit our CONTACTS page for additional contacts and information.