The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Boyle: Interhall referees dream of Stadium too

Nick Boyle | Sunday, November 13, 2011

After more than two months of play, the women’s interhall season is coming to a close. The season has brought many intense games, big plays and has generated much excitement around campus.

While the women playing the games get most of the spotlight, the league would not exist without all of the behind-the-scenes work done by RecSports — especially the referees.

Unlike the men’s games, which features referees from the South Bend area, the women’s games feature student-referees who take time away from their busy schedules to work.

Although it is work, most referees enjoy their job.

“It’s a bit of work, but the scheduling is very flexible for the most part. Overall it’s a great job and it’s nice to stay close to football,” said sophomore referee Jimmy Keena, who played football in high school.

Before the season, each referee underwent three full days of training, culminating with a test they had to pass to be allowed to referee.

“Learning the rules was difficult at first because they are different than normal high school and college rules,” sophomore referee Andrew Hennessey said. “But after we completed training it was easier to pick up.”

After training was completed, the referees were thrown into the fire immediately, officiating up to eight games a week.

“It was really scary [officiating] my first game with no real previous experience,” sophomore referee Kyle McDonald said. “The first flag I had to throw was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It was pretty nerve-wracking.”

After officiating the entire season, only a select group of referees is selected to referee during the playoffs. Keena, Hennessey and McDonald were all very excited to make the cut.

“I thought it was an honor that I made the cut for playoffs,” Hennessey said. “I’m real excited about the prospect of officiating in [Notre Dame] Stadium.”

Like Hennessey, many of the referees are excited about the prospect of officiating a game in Notre Dame Stadium.

“I know, like a lot of the women’s teams, I’m looking forward to possibly having a game in the Stadium,” Keena said. “Personally, officiating the championship in the Stadium would be as close as I will ever get to playing in the Stadium, which would be a dream come true for me.”

Although Hennessey, Keena and McDonald enjoy officiating the games, they said they job does not come without its shortcomings.

“When it’s rainy and cold it’s tough to get yourself out there and work, but you’ve got to do it,” Hennessey said.

While the weather can be bothersome for most, Keena said sometimes the hardest part of the job is dealing with overly intense fans.

“A certain rectress likes to yell at you if she thinks you blew a call,” Keena said. “It can be a bit intimidating but you learn to deal with it.”