After undergoing USAU Observer training this past weekend, I figured I would talk about the differences I encountered between that and the UOA.
A week before my first UOA tournament, at UOA SEC’s, I was given the UOA Laws to study. This consisted of all of the rules for the tournament, as well as the observer duties and hand motions. I studied each of the rules dutifully and thought I had a pretty good grasp on how the game should be called. After all, a Travel is a Travel.
After arriving on the scene, I had the chance to have a bye round. I spent time watching Mike G and how he observed to get a better idea on how the game should be called. The next round I was paired up with Jason Weddle for my first game. I understood the rules, but trying to execute all of the signals was definitely nerve racking. As an observer, you have to break the mode from being a passive watcher to being an active thinker. I was counting stalls my first possession, and I almost yelled out “UP” as the first pass went up.
As the day progressed I felt more confident in the way I was conducting myself. The UOA really pushes the execution of observing. I was given feedback about hustling, being in the correct position, what to watch, and what signals to give. By the end of the day I felt like I could manage a game by myself. With the calls being active, along with the stalls, it really keeps you from zoning out and passively watching the game. At the end of the day, we went through an hour long class to discuss the rules and insure knowledge.
The USAU classroom session was a lot less boring than I thought it would be. After having done 3 UOA tournaments, I really wanted to get an idea of how the USAU wanted the games to be called. The UOA pushes to allow hard physical Ultimate, while the USAU is straight by the book. I got clarification on how they wanted offsides called, travels on the move, and even strip calls. Since I was familiar with some of the tricks and snafus in the rules, I knew where I wanted clarification. The final rules quiz was definitely tricky, but I answered every question correctly.
Joey Cretella and I were teamed up for our certification game. We didn’t have to do a warm-up game since we had prior experience with the UOA. I definitely had difficulty with the passive rulings. I didn’t have one single ruling come to me, but both teams seemed unsure how to handle contested fouls. They would kind of look at me in the corner of their eyes. The first one was on a contested foul in the endzone where it took them 30 seconds to figure out if they were going to call a foul. I finally went up and said “Well you can come to me or the play can stand”. That was my first mistake, because I should have said “or it can be played as a contested foul”. It’s hard to not give away information about the foul, but nonetheless they handled it as a contested foul.
My UOA training really helped me understand where to be in position and how important it is to hustle to keep your vantage point correct. I got high marks for both, but definitely had to keep telling myself to be ready for anything. With less active things to do, I felt a little useless at times. I forgot to execute hand signals at times, but that also is just something I need more practice at. The real criticism I had is that I didn’t have a day of games to get everything down pat. It wasn’t a big deal for me because I’ve observed before, but for the others? Two games is not enough to get the execution down.
UOA training gave me the confidence and the knowledge of how to conduct myself on the field as an observer. USAU help me sure up my rules knowledge so I feel more confident in knowing what I should be ruling. The USAU clinic has been well thought out and structured, allowing for 15-20 people to get certified at one time. The UOA training involves using Mike G and Jason Weddle as individual trainers, which can be more instructive for one individual. I’m definitely glad I did UOA first as it showed me what observers can be, and what they are capable of calling. With the UOA requiring more, actively, from their observers, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the USAU by any means. It’s easier to go from more active to less than the opposite.
That’s just.. Like, my opinion, man….