We did not have corum as we lacked 25 members, but much was discussed. I’ve summarized the discussion and suggested courses of action.
There is a new rule coming into effect October 1st, specifically the need to record the name and background screening status of all dedicated referees and include that information in the report to the Secretary and subsequently the National Office. It was discussed and the attendees are generally in favor of allowing self-directed events to be sanctioned in our division. You may be more familiar with the phrase “reffing out of pools”. If an event is self-directed, the referees do not need to be recorded nor do they need to have a background screening or professional membership status. It would be the Observer’s responsibility to ensure the rules are adhered to, of course, but the items that received agreement were:
Whether the event is self-directed, has a mix of self-directed and dedicated, or is wholly run by dedicated referees must be clearly expressed when the tournament is proposed for sanctioning and also in the askfred listing when it is posted.
If an event is listed as self-directed, you can choose to add dedicated referees or go with only dedicated referees on the day of the event. If an event is listed as mixed or dedicated refereeing, it cannot be changed to self-directed. I recommend a minimum of 1 month in advance would be acceptable to make a change to mixed or self-directed from dedicated, but that was not discussed and I cannot speak to others’ opinions on that point.
If a referee is used for an event other than the one they are fencing in (a foil referee fencing an epee event, for example), then that person is a dedicated referee for the (in this example) foil event in which they referee.
This brings us to the next subject: referee development. With the potential that the demand for dedicated referees may at least temporarily decline as people hold self-directed or mix-directed events, I feel like this actually puts us in a situation to need even more referee development. I feel like the areas we should focus on, which are identified by number or skill set differently by different people, is initially the beginning referee who is perhaps not yet ready to take the test but is newly interested in becoming a referee and later adding the skills or tips/tricks that help them become competent to referee at division-level events. The goal as I see it is to develop a general standard that people are at least skilled enough for divisional events event if they choose to referee only local tournaments.
To that end, I proposed an incentive program. The referees who are currently of a level to provide guidance to new and developing referees (Matt Cox, Stephen Pashby, Tom Bryan, Mike Nicholson, Bobby Gibbs, and Darius Wei, initially) should be approached about offering Referee Coaching at tournaments. The thought is that, when the schedule is finalized following the scheduling deadlines, the tournament schedule will be forwarded to these individuals and they will respond with their availability to attend said events. The tournament organizers for the events that the Referee Coaches are willing to be available for can then be contacted to discuss whether there would be a benefit to have a Referee Coach at the tournament and whether the club would like to have a Referee Coach available. Assuming there is reasonable benefit and the club agrees, then the Division would compensate the Referee Coach monetarily. The discussed amount was $50 per tournament day and that the division might consider this program under the current restriction that it will only pay this compensation for one tournament per month and only one Referee Coach for that tournament. This is, of course, negotiable depending on interest and need.
There has been interest from multiple parties in becoming Division Observers. The Observer Program has not been updated since approximately 2012 and so I am currently working on updating that. My goal is to have a video (as well as a PDF for those who prefer to read) available on the division website that the potential observer can access. Until an automated process can be put in place, the potential observer will then be able to email me to receive a test that they will answer and email back to me for grading. Assuming a passing score, they would then be a Division Observer. I anticipate the video to take no more than approximately 30 minutes and the test to be 10-20 questions in length and multiple choice. My hope is to have this completed at least to the level of being functional by the end of this week.
Additionally, it has always been in the Division Observer program manual that clubs must send someone for observer training before they can host sanctioned events. I propose that we start enforcing this rule, especially as it’s one of the few that was actually written down and intended to be followed. Following the confirmation of the tournament schedule after each deadline, the Observers would receive a list of the tournaments to be sanctioned and respond in a reasonable amount of time with their availability for each tournament. The committee or individual then appointed by the board would assign a primary and secondary Observer to each event, thereby lifting from the clubs the need to find an observer (which was supposed to be a division responsibility anyway) as well as helping lessen the load on those handful of observers who have been working all of the state’s tournaments. The secondary observer is just in case the primary cannot it make it to an event due to unforeseen circumstances.
I feel that specifically requiring every observer to work at least one tournament a season may not be as realistic as it may sound. Some people are busier than others or have more or less opportunity to attend events than others. In recognition of this, as well as the need for clubs to support the greater community, I recommend that if a club has not had an observer work at least one event over the course of a 3 season period, then that club receives a warning. If by the following season’s end that club has still not been represented by an observer (ie. their observer or observers have not worked any events), then I suggest a suspension of 6 months during which they cannot host any sanctioned events. While this may seem extreme to some, I feel that given the number of tournaments held in the division every year there is simply no excuse for a club not to have an observer work at least one of the approximately 80+ events that occur over a 3 year period, especially if the division is attempting to fairly distribute this responsibility among all the observers. A club may have as many people submit to be observers as they wish, but they only need one observer to work at least one tournament in a 3 season period in order to avoid this consequence.
USA Fencing continues to roll out new rules every 6 months or so, it seems, and many involve the recording/reporting of additional tournament information. To that end, it is my recommendation that we require the Observers to receive, and pass on to the Secretary, digital copies of the following:
The classification change report as generated by Fencing Time
The referee usage report as generated by Fencing TIme
The Fencing Time save file for the tournament itself
* If the Fencing Time save file is from version 3 or earlier, a copy of the master database is also necessary. This is not necessary if the save file is from Fencing Time version 4 as its save data is more complete.
Regarding any additional activities (camps, clinics, specialty classes, etc.) that clubs wish to hold or host, please note that if the activity falls under the club’s USFA insurance then everyone should be properly Safe Sport screened. If the activity falls under another group’s insurance (such as a special calisthenics class or having a massage therapist available), then they need not be Safe Sport screened. This is especially relevant for guest coaches, who may even be from another country and so they may have no USFA membership at all. Regardless, if it falls under USFA insurance, then the instructors/guests need to be properly screened if they are over the age of 18.
The ROC we wish to hold in April 2017 is still being worked on. I’m currently awaiting contact information for Linda Marsh so as to discuss the potential of hosting it at the Koury Center in Greensboro. The other location that the current committee is looking into is Charlotte. Bout and Tournament Committees are almost completely decided as well as much of the Armory Crew, with a few referees from outside of NC having expressed interest in refereeing if they are officially asked with enough advanced notice.
The NC Junior Olympic Qualifier is pending location approval, but the date will be November 21st-22nd. There is no current location or date decided for NC Divisional Qualifiers, although I hope to have at least the date pinned down by the end of the week.
I believe that summarizes everything I can recall being discussed. If you have any thoughts on these topics and the suggested responses, please let us know.
2015-2016 NC Division Chair