The Anchorage Football Officials Association needs you.
Or your buddy.
Or anyone, really, who possesses a working knowledge of the game and a desire to be part of it, and wouldn't mind picking up a little extra income.
With an estimated 40 to 45 officials available to work the more than 300 high school tackle and flag football games scheduled in the area this season – the association also contracts to work games in the Valley and sends officials to games around the state -- the local ranks are thin. That's particularly true when you factor in adult flag football games the association also works.
"Let's put it this way: We have a group of older guys who have been around a long time – those are the guys you see every weekend,'' said longtime official Bruce McKay, who schedules officials. "I need someone from 20 to 30 (years old), that age group, to start filling in.
"If you have a passion for the game, you can still stay in the game, stay in shape and make some money.''
Men and women are welcome, McKay said.
Brian Hosken, acting president of the association, said the group picked up three new officials when it held a training session earlier this month.
He's hoping for more newcomers when the association conducts two more two-hour training sessions, Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30 p.m. each night, at West High (Just follow signs that will be posted at the school's main entrance).
"Anyone who wants to try, they are more than welcome,'' Hosken said.
Five-man on-field crews are generally used for tackle football games – and that's not counting three other officials to work the sideline chains and another to run the clock – and smaller crews for flag games.
When the association's pool of officials is thin, as it has generally been for years now, officials sometimes end up working multiple games in a day. Hosken estimates he'll work 50-70 games this season.
Hosken said the association has about 20 officials currently who are experienced enough to work a tackle game at the varsity level. Factor in a five-man, on-field crew, and that's exactly how many officials would have been needed Aug. 23, when four varsity games were initially scheduled, three of them with the same kickoff time. One of those games has since been moved forward a day.
Officials start the job at the C team level – that's below varsity and junior varsity – and work their way up as they gain experience and confidence.
Hosken said an official makes $85 for a varsity game, $70-75 for a junior varsity game and about $55 for a C team game. He and McKay said the association is eager to train and mentor newcomers.
"We're not in that critical stage in terms of numbers,'' McKay said. "But we could be soon, in a year or two.''
Reach reporter Doyle Woody at firstname.lastname@example.org