In a basketball game, it’s normal for things to get heated and intense. It’s a physical game filled with fouls that, at times, can be controversial to those playing and watching.
When those situations occur, it’s up to the referees to break up any skirmishes on the court. These situations aren’t limited to the professional level either, as intramural games at Marist see the same sort of action. But the referees handling those situations may be different than what one would expect.
The Marist intramural referees are all students who are brought in as a part of Marist’s work-study program. So, when they step in to break up an altercation or to call penalties, whether it be in basketball or any other intramural sport, they are essentially standing up to their peers. This is a talent that Julie Byron, who runs intramurals, greatly cherishes.
“That’s always my final interview question is, how do you manage conflict,” said Byron. “It really is hard. Another challenging piece for my staff this whole year has been masks. It’s difficult for peers to self-police themselves and say, ‘hey you need to be wearing your masks when you’re participating.’ It’s definitely hard.”
To find the perfect candidates for this role, Byron reaches out to students in several different ways. The most common one is by making a post on Marist’s FoxQuest website, which is a site that allows students to apply for internships and jobs. She also sets up a table at the Marist job fairs, where students can sign up to be interviewed for a position. Also, lots of students take initiative to reach out themselves.
“A lot of it is friends are on staff and they reach out to their friends,” said Byron. “And by the nature of where my office is in McCann, I get a lot of transient stop-ins who are looking.”
Once Byron gets enough student interest, the interview process can begin.
“I usually do a typical interview with them,” said Byron. “I do need a little bit of sports experience. I look at if they have worked at a summer camp, have they coached youth sports, have you worked at the YMCA. If they have that experience, it certainly puts them a step above.”
Of course, it’s impossible for every incoming referee to have complete knowledge of all the rules in every sport. That’s no problem. Byron, as well as the experienced referees, help the new recruits learn the ropes.
Marist junior and current referee Anna Conaghan experienced this when she first began refereeing games.
“I didn’t know volleyball at first,” said Conaghan. “My first volleyball shift I just kind of walked up to one of my coworkers and I was like, ‘What are the rules?’ They explained it well and I was able to ref.”
Now, Conaghan is one of Byron’s best and most trusted referees. Lansing Miller is as well, and he has been since he started working as a referee in his sophomore year.
Miller originally connected with intramurals by playing some intramural sports in his freshman year. There, he became close with the referees that were managing the games he played in. Eventually, those friends introduced him to the possibility of becoming a referee himself. When Byron took over as head of intramurals the following semester, Miller felt as though it was the perfect time to try being a ref himself. He’s never regretted that decision.
“It’s a job, but it’s also a little bit of a hobby,” said Miller. “There is a really good group of coworkers, which makes it really fun. Especially indoors and outdoors, you meet a lot of new people. You see a lot of new people around campus. I think, overall, it’s been a great experience.”
Byron, as well as her referees, are excited for the spring semester ahead, which will feature plenty of old and new intramural sports. For students looking to participate in intramurals or for those looking to get a better understanding of the program, check the Marist page of the IMLeagues website.
Just remember, refs are people too.
Edited by Bridget Reilly and
Photo Credit: Connor Kurpat