New course offered at 3 Green Bay high schools aims to recruit referees

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The ongoing need for WIAA officials has motivated a local school district to take matters into its own hands.

The Green Bay Area Public School District is now offering a new officiating and coaching course at three of its high schools. This is the first year it has been offered at Preble, East and Southwest High Schools.

Although Preble High School senior Alex Champine doesn’t plan to play sports in college, he jumped at the chance to take the new course.

“I want to go to NWTC and be an electrician but this would be a nice hobby to make some money on the side,” said Champine. “WIAA is asking for more refs to participate because over the years people are stopping.”

Bob Gaulke, the physical education department chair at Preble High School, has been a WIAA certified official for 7 years, but he said he’s already witnessed the official shortage first-hand.

“I can work 5-6 days a week as a basketball official if I wanted to or needed to,” said Gaulke. “There’s a real shortage. There’s always emails coming out.”
When asked why there’s a shortage, Gaulke said part of the problem is the spectators.

“The popular opinion is parents and I think that’s true. I haven’t seen it personally, maybe because of the games I’ve been assigned, but if you’re doing youth games, it’s difficult. The parents are right there on the sidelines and they all have opines about the call,” said Gaulke. “Common place is that 50 percent of people are going to hate your call and 50 percent are going to love it but it seems people have stronger opinions these days than they used to have.”

Hoping to recruit more referees, Gaulke helped create the new course for high school students. He said they study the rules of the game, work toward certification and learn how to deal with the crowd.

“I just have to make sure I stay to my game and not let them affect it at all,” said Champine.

“When you get out there and you’re a beginner, there needs to be some patience. “Maybe game management and coaches can help out with that and talk to parents and have them back off a bit, but something has to be done because we don’t want the kids on the court and field to lose out on those games,” said Gaulke.

Gaulke said it was a bit tricky coming up with the curriculum, but he’s hoping other districts make the same call.

“Hopefully it does catch on. Students who play football and basketball and sports in school know they are not going to be doing it forever, but this is a great way to keep in touch with the sports,” said Gaulke.

The course also teaches students about coaching and offers them CPR/AED training. According to the WIAA, all coaches have to be certified in CPR/AED training.
“If we can get the kids training in officiating and coaching, then that puts them ahead,” said Gaulke.