Seeking to address the consistent need for more high school sports officials, one Ohio high school has decided to take an interesting step: offering officiating classes to students. 

The Times Leader reports that Edison (Ohio) High School will offer a sports officiating class to 30 students during the upcoming academic year. The class will allow students to become sanctioned OHSAA officials in any sport that the school offers. 

JoAnn Stagani, the school’s athletic director, said that baseball, softball and soccer officiating generated the most interest among the first cohort. 

Edison is actually the second school in the area to offer officiating courses for academic credit, though the other, Barnesville High School, limits the officiating course to basketball. 

Stagani will reportedly teach the course herself after receiving approval from the OHSAA. Stretched over an 18-week period, each group of students will be able to cover different topics in their sports of interest. 

“One week we might cover rules, uniforms, situations, etc.,” Stagani told the Times Leader. “The students will take the official tests that everyone else who wants to be an official will take and they’ll have two tries to earn a passing score.”

Students will also participate in an actual sports setting, helping sanctioned officials at scrimmages or working as line judges for volleyball. 

As is the case with adults, students will have to pay a $35 fee per sport in order to take the course — but Stagani assured students that they’d make that money back as soon as they worked their first event. Still, Stagani said she was seeking support for students for whom that fee might be a barrier.

“I asked some of the officials groups, figuring that in the long run, it’s going to end up being a benefit to them as much as the kid,” she said.

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.