Since we are in the State of Michigan, the first thing a new prospective official will need to do is register online or through mail with the Michigan High School Athletic Association. You will find their website located at www.mhsaa.com under the registration tab. Registration with them will cost you $16 per sport plus a liability insurance policy fee of $40 ($45 if registered my mail). It is a small cost and for this you will receive one patch for your official’s shirt (I would recommend purchasing a couple extra for $1 ea), a rules book and case book (if you are a new official), and membership card. A small open book test is a requirement prior to your registration being complete but it is not too difficult and it gives a new official the chance to use your rules book. To register online, click on the pictured link at the bottom of this page.
2. Purchase a Uniform
Now that registration is complete, a uniform is a must. A wrestling official needs to have all black shoes with black soles, black pants, the official shirt, black socks, a lanyard, a whistle, black belt, red/green flipping disc, and red and green wrist bands. The best priced site that I found for purchasing the shirt is any of the ones listed under our Officials Equipment link. If it were me, I would order two to three shirts so that you have a back up or two. As for the pants, if you are anything like me, you will like to try them on prior to purchasing them so it would make it difficult to purchase to purchase online. We bring in Cliff Keen to our meetings so that you can try on their beltless pants. They are the best wearing pants in the industry. Do not purchase docker style (all cotton) pants as they do not last and tend to fade and pick up every little bit of dirt and dust during the day. Polyester pants work the best and they last the longest. It is a good idea to purchase more than one pair as you should always bring a back-up pair when you are officiating in case you blow out a pair of pants. I have found that a black baseball belt tends to work very well for my pants as it is light and not too bulky, but you can use any black belt that you see fit. The lanyard and whistle can be purchased at many sites on the internet or at any large sporting goods store. Please make sure that the shoes that you get are all solid black or little enough of another color so that you can color it in with a black marker. Cliff Keen offers a nice starter package to our officials for $150 that includes a jacket, micro fiber high quality shirt, wristbands, flipping disc, lanyard, whistle (Fox 40), and beltless pants. It is a great deal and gets you everything you need to get started excluding shoes. You will need to contact Shane Risner to learn how to get the discount and special pricing from Cliff Keen.
3. Join a Local Officials Association
The next step in your development as an official is to find a local officials association to join. Most associations are only $25-$30 to join and with the LWOA, they will assign you matches throughout the year. The benefit of being a member of an association is the discussions and learning that goes on during the meetings that are held throughout the year. As a young official, it is encouraged to find someone in your area that you could use as a mentor. It is always good to have someone to talk to about situations or ask questions. The discussions will enhance your growth as an official.
4. Learn the Rules
The most important part of being an official is knowledge of the rules. The rules book and case book manual will be given to you as part of your registration. Read both books as many times as you can. Reading the rules book and knowing the rules will make the transition of calling points on the mat a little easier. Also to enhance your knowledge of the rules, see the LWOA website that has many officiating articles as well as many situation videos that will help to enhance the learning from the rules and case book. It will take time to get comfortable on the mat but knowing all the proper signals and how to properly call a match will make life easier for you on the mat. In order to grow into a State level official, it would be a good idea to find other articles to read about that discuss situations and rule applications that you will encounter throughout the year.
5. Attend a Training Seminar
Now it is time to get out on the mat and the best way to start is during the MHSAA / LWOA training seminar that will be held in November at J.W. Sexton High School. The cost is $20 and official trainers will be there all day to help assist young officials. The day will start with some classroom learning and then end with you being able to call matches for the last 4-5 hours. During the day, officials will get the opportunity of calling matches, working the table, and learning from experienced officials. It is a great opportunity to learn and grow as an official and is a must for the first or second year official.
6. Enjoy Your First Match
Now that you have experienced all of these things you are ready to start calling matches. The fun begins with your first match and will make the work you put into it well worth it. In this area high school wrestling mainly takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There will be many opportunities to work and enjoy this great pastime of being a wrestling official.