Austin-area association hopes new training will help Texas football referee shortage

High school football in the Lone Star State is in dire need of officials, including in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin has seen a growth in population over the past five years, which is the opposite trend for football officials in Texas.

Just over the past year, Travis, Williamson and Hays counties added more than 40,000 new homes combined. While football officials have taken a dip from a year ago.

“This last year we saw a decline of about 100 officials,” said training coordinator Jason Dush. “Each year we lose officials to just retirement. We lose officials [that] move away. Some of them move away and get into other chapters in the state or have to leave state for work.”

There are a multitude of reasons for the lack of retention, but one chapter is hoping their new training method can help fix that.

Now new officials can do more online training so they don’t have to leave their families for extended amounts of time. Also, there are more in-person training sites so travel times can be reduced.

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“We realize that time is critical with their families and jobs, so we really want to maximize the way we deliver the training,” Dush said. “We have a training site in North Austin, South Austin … We’ve now added a site in Marble Falls and in Bastrop.”

On top of training online, you’ll also receive training from peers who want you to succeed.

“I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Head Linesman Brandon McCradic. “When you got guys that are experienced and have been in it for a while and they’re teaching you and showing you the ropes, it really helps out.”

I can attest to that myself. After putting on the zebra stripes for Hendrickson’s varsity scrimmage, I felt well-supported and somewhat prepared after a 15-minute tutorial. One thing that brought joy was the camaraderie between the crew.

“At the end of the day, we really preach the reward that comes with this,” Dush said. “We always enjoy pushing people out of their comfort zone and making them better.”

If you want to step out of your comfort zone to help the community, visit the Austin Football Officials website.

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