A record number of NASO Summit attendees in Spokane, Wash., in July absorbed virtual reality, emotional intelligence, video relevance and other educational messages over the course of the three-day event. With the theme, “Training in Transition,” the 560-plus sports officials from around the globe gained multiple educational takeaways to bring back to their associations.

“The Summit in Spokane was our 37th and looking back over all of them I would have to say that Spokane was extraordinary in a number of ways,” said NASO President Barry Mano. “First of all, in attendance we set records for the Summit, and sponsorship support was at a record level. I think the educational sessions were extraordinary and imparted value that we had not seen at that level before, and the networking opportunities, with more than 150 sports organizations represented, were spectacular. … The Summit has come into a hallowed space — that being accepted by so many as the Industry Event of the Year for officiating.”

Attendees heard welcoming remarks from Mano at the Opening Ceremony Sunday night, July 28, along with Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, following a unique rendering of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems by Mike Colbrese, retiring executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The next two days were packed with educational sessions featuring many leaders in the industry.
The first session on July 29 was titled after the Summit theme and featured discussions from Jason Nickleby, Minnesota State High School League director of officials; Dave Coleman, Pac-12 vice president of officiating; NFL referee Carl Cheffers; and Pati Rolf, USA Volleyball director of officials. They covered the relevance of learning through video. A big theme was not overwhelming officials with too many clips. The key is to find the right clips to demonstrate what needs to take place from an official’s standpoint on the critical plays that supervisors want to see improvement on.

“It’s more about the quality. We want teachable moments,” Cheffers said.

Developing a consistent message was also emphasized — the clips need to move officials onto the same page for enforcement. Age-specific videos and using technology such as tablets were also raised as issues in educating through video.

Rachelle Strawther, director of leadership training and development for Gonzaga University, spoke about emotional intelligence during the “Get Them to Believe” session. Strawther laid out a model to help officials better handle controversial situations.

Her model included three main components: self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy. She discussed the need for officials to become aware of their actions to understand why they respond the way they do in tense situations. That then allows the official to self-regulate behavior to improve responses in tense situations. This leads to the final step — empathy — as the official becomes better able to understand others and what drives their actions so that they can respond appropriately.

The final day of the Summit featured more technology and educational takeaways.

Omar Ahmad, with STRIVR, demonstrated virtual reality technology in the “Leading the Way” session. He placed goggles on Bill Carollo, coordinator for the Collegiate Officiating Consortium, and J.D. Collins, NCAA national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, to let them experience the technology.

Carollo and Collins got the audience laughing as they mimed actions coordinated to the reality of sports actions projected on the screen. The virtual reality goggles are used to get reps for officials, allowing them to step into the game through the imaging.
In the same session, attendees heard from Duane Carlisle, a fitness consultant for NFL officials who runs Carlisle Performance. He explained how technology tracks the movements of officials and then the data is used to help improve fitness.
Gary Frieders, president of the North Coast Officials Association, demonstrated Go Pro technology he utilizes as a teaching tool for volleyball officials. By attaching the device on the net, observers get close views of the action and officials’ judgments. The views are used in training to educate officials on plays, provide feedback and ways to develop.

The NASO Summit covered multiple other sessions, the Officiating Industry Luncheon and sport-by-sport workshops. The Celebrate Officiate Gala capped the three-day event.