Coaches are cordial when it comes to refs

Published 12:31am Sunday, March 18, 2012

NATCHEZ — Natchez High School head football coach Lance Reed’s philosophy on coach-referee interaction is simple: keep a line of communication open.

“When we’re able to communicate, and I’m asking a question and things of that sort, or getting (clarification) on what’s transpiring, I think that makes me more comfortable,” Reed said.

While coaches and referees are never going to see eye-to-eye on every little detail, Reed said he thinks, ultimately, everyone’s just trying to do their job .

“In the heat of the moment on Friday nights, there are some intense things that occur, but the bottom line is I think everyone’s out there to put on a good program and good game,” Reed said.

“You have to communicate and get to the common ground.”

The dynamic between a school’s coaching staff and the team of officials varies from person to person, as far as a coach’s approach is concerned. Each coach is ultimately trying to work the referees to give his or her team the best possible outcome.

Trinity Episcopal football and basketball coach David King said he believes most referees are doing what they do for the athletes, and he admitted that there’s certainly a motivation to “working” officials.

“It’s my job to work them as much as I work my players,” King said. “I’d like to work them as hard as I can to manipulate them in my favor, because we’re all humans. Not that they intend to do that, but sometimes you can tell if one of them is going to give into you or not. It’s like a head game with officials, a strategy.”

Ferriday High School football coach Richard Oliver said there’s definitely a line you don’t want to cross if you can help it. Even though Oliver said referees aren’t supposed to be looking to flag a player because a coach gets on his case, anything’s possible.

“There’s an old cliché, you get more flies with honey,” Oliver said. “I don’t want to go and (get someone upset) who’s going to have to make a judgment call. If you’re nice to someone, it’s just human nature for them to be nice to you.”

Oliver also said there are instances when tempers can flare.

“Sometimes you get into heated discussions because you see something one way and they see it another way, but ultimately, they have the right to do what they do, and we don’t have that right, so we have to respect that,” Oliver said. “But I figure that being nice couldn’t hurt.”

For someone like Adams County Christian School girls basketball coach Melanie Hall, who wears her emotions on her sleeve, there’s definitely a need to be clear to officials that nothing is ever personal, Hall said.

“I’m fortunate because I’ve been doing this a while now, and the officials know me and they know that I’m just passionate about the game, and I’m just intense, and if I’m hollering, I don’t mean anything by it,” Hall said.

“They usually give me a lot of leeway, understanding how I am, and it’s not a personal thing by any means.”

Other coaches, like Cathedral High School girls basketball coach Randy Smith, just don’t interact with referees much at all.

“When I got past 30 years old, I started getting a little more mature,” Smith said. “It doesn’t really help to get on them, because there are certain referees where you say any one word, they will hound you the rest of the game. So I learned just be quiet, learn their personality and figure out the ones you can talk to.”

Smith said when he does talk to referees, he’s usually just trying to point things out in a polite manner.

“I’m trying to point out that there’s a girl who’s really hacking on our girl, or going over our backs, or they’re really walking a lot,” Smith said. “Whatever I think at the time they’re not calling.”

If there’s ever a time when coaches feel it’s absolutely necessary to have dialogue with officials, it’s when a coach feels his players might be in danger of being hurt by overly aggressive opponents. Reed said protecting his players is of the utmost importance.

“Sometimes you can go in some environments and kind of sense some things,” Reed said.

“You’d hate to think that, but you really have to stand your ground sometimes, in a respectful way and a professional way. But, you definitely have to protect your kids when you feel like something’s happening in cases where they may get some harm.”