Local referees practice officiating at UJ spring game
The officials ref games from the high school level all the way up to FCS Division I college football.
JAMESTOWN — The University of Jamestown’s spring game was not only practice for the athletes but also for the officiating crew. The four officials were put together by the GPAC and came from all over the local area to officiate the game on May 1.
“It’s a nice way to get some live looks and get out and about and be on the field again … shaking off that rust and getting out, running around and being out there with my buddies again,” official Aaron Motter said.
The crew consisted of Brian Yanish and Matt Brandvold from Valley City, Motter from Jamestown and Mitch Wardinzski from Bismarck. Yanish was the head official for the group, which was put together in a mix of different crews. Yanish said he used the spring game to help study the new rule changes and get used to those apply on the field.
“We’ll go to work these snaps to get better and to work with different people, maybe even different positions in an attempt to diversify for the upcoming season,” Yanish said.
Everybody spoke about how they became an official in order to stay in the sport they love.
“If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it. I played high school football, I never made it to the college level so this keeps me close to the game and to experience the college football level, even though it’s just as an officiating position not as a player or anything like that,” Wardinzski said. “I love officiating football, I do pee wee football, middle school football, high school football, college football. I work with the Indoor Football League and officiate there as well, so I officiate football all year-round, it’s more of a hobby for me so I definitely enjoy it.”
Yanish said the Jimmies spring game was the third spring game that he has worked this year. Motter, who played football for then-Jamestown College, said he was told that he was going to be officiating the spring game a week before it happened.
Wardinzski said he consistently works with different crews but has previously worked with Yanish and Motter during Jimmies' junior varsity games. He said the fact that he doesn’t work with one set crew is challenging.
“When you work with the same guys, week in, week out, you start to gel,” Wardinzski said. “You start to know what their expectations are, they know how you work, you know how they work, and things start to go a lot more smoothly the more you work with somebody as opposed to just getting plugged in at a position that you might not normally work with people that you don’t normally work with.”
One of the challenges that the Jimmies spring game presented to the officials was the game being delayed from April 21 to May 1.
“During the spring, it’s usually just whose around, available, you don’t always get your regular crew for spring games,” Motter said. “Since they postponed it a week too, different guys were able to show up.”
Brandvold was officiating the Jimmies for the first time in his career, which presented challenges but it also helped that it was only a scrimmage.
“I think it was a tremendous help,” Brandvold said. “Obviously, during the regular season, you probably sit at home and watch a little bit of film on them so you know what you’re going to get yourself into for the week. But the practice setting, Jamestown did a real good job with their spring game, letting the officials know what’s going to happen, and then the pace of play. Both teams were very competitive still, offense versus defense, nobody wants to lose, the boys played hard and from an official standpoint, I thought it was great, got some good looks at snaps and really got my mind focused on the football world.”
Yanish said he enjoys being out on the field, being competitive and working hard to put forth the best effort he possibly can.
“You feel a part of the game, the competitive juices get flowing and when you can get done with a game and you can feel good that you put forth the effort and the best you could for the game and you felt like you brought something positive to the game,” Yanish said. “Usually, somebody is unhappy with a call you made but we go back, we watch film, we try to get better. We’re always striving for the perfect game."