Todd Stordahl is looking forward to checking out the survey data regarding Officiate Washington Day when it trickles into the Washington Officials Association (WOA) offices in the coming months.
Until then, the executive director of the WOA must rely on his first-hand observations of the two-day event held the final weekend of July in Spokane, Wash., as a prelude to the 2019 NASO Summit.
“I think it went great,” said Stordahl, who also serves on the NASO board of directors. “When I walked in the sessions it seemed the group was definitely engaged. We received a lot of good feedback, which is great to hear.”
About 500 members of the WOA turned out for the July 27 general sessions, sports-specific breakouts, awards luncheon and presentations by NASO board secretary and Referee chief operating officer/executive editor Bill Topp, and Fox Sports football rules analyst Mike Pereira. A special morning session geared toward WOA baseball umpires and featuring former MLB arbiters Ed Montague, Dale Scott and Larry Young ran concurrently at Avista Stadium, home of the Spokane Indians of the Class A Northwest League.
One day earlier, almost 150 golfers attended the annual WOA golf tournament held at Hangman Valley Golf Course. It serves as a fundraiser for the group.
Stordahl shared the story of a WOA local association board member to illustrate why Officiate Washington Day is so important for the statewide organization. According to Stordahl, the woman arrived in Spokane convinced there was no reason to remain in a leadership position with her local unit. At the end of Saturday’s events, she had re-committed to serving another term on her board.
“We’re not going to know the true benefit of what happened until months, if not years, later,” Stordahl said. “I think that’s the reason you want people to stay — it was that eye-opening experience.”
Saturday also featured a new wrinkle thanks to the WOA’s unique standing as the lone statewide association in which every member is also an NASO member. As part of its companion piece to the WOA’s program, NASO put together a “Fan Fest” experience for the officials featuring games and prizes, the opportunity to have their photo taken and digitally superimposed on a mock Referee cover, and an information booth where WOA members could find out more information about NASO’s products and services.
“Did they just take advantage of the fun things or did they learn something?” said Stordahl rhetorically. “I thought the concept was great. I thought the flow was great. I would hope the officials got something out of it.”
Whatever the data and surveys show, Stordahl knows the WOA has set a high standard for its members going forward.
“The difficult trick now will be when we go back to Yakima for our own WOA event (for 2020) … does the success of this one in Spokane challenge the respective sports committees,” Stordahl said. “How do we take the positives and re-create some of it to create the same energy?