LHSAA, LHSOA partnering for first TIPoff Classic
By DANIEL GREEN
ALEXANDRIA - The Louisiana High School Athletic Association and the Louisiana High School Officials Association have many similar goals, one of which is to place highly-trained officials on the field of play at all times, regardless of which sanctioned sport it may be.
And on Nov. 2 at Holy Savior Menard High School in Alexandria, the two organizations are taking that initiative one step farther with the TIPoff Classic Exhibition, featuring five basketball games featuring top-notch boys and girls teams from across the state.
According to Lee Sanders of the LHSAA, these five contests will not only feature some of the best basketball teams in Classes B and C in the state, but also some of the top young officials in the business.
"We are very excited about this event," Sanders said. "We will have some great teams playing and 18 of the best young officials from across the state."
With an admission cost of $5 per person, girls' teams from Anacoco, Florien, Hathaway, Hicks, Holden and Plainview, along with boys' squads from Atlanta, Hicks, Hornbeck and Zwolle, will be in action during these exhibition games.
The TIPoff Classic will begin at noon on Nov. 2, with the final game being played beginning at 7 p.m.
The first three letters in TIPoff are capitalized for a reason as it stands for Talent Identification Program. This is an effort to identify the most talented young officials in the state so they can be trained properly, while also supporting them in a way so they may be retained for many years to come.
"We lost between 70-75 percent of young officials before their fourth year," Sanders noted. "We realize these young officials need a lot of support. We must support these young officials' development."
With this on his mind, Sanders contacted many top-notch officials from the high school and college ranks, creating a staff of highly-trained professionals who were willing to lend their expertise to this event. The staff will conduct a number of training seminars for the young officials identified for the event, while also being on hand to critique the officiating during the games.
"We put together a great staff for this event," Sanders said. "Now, all we needed were some teams to play."
That's when he contacted Will Norris of BWS Sports. Having known him for years, Sanders asked Norris if he could find some teams to play in this exhibition. And Norris obliged by scheduling several traditional Class B and C powerhouses for this event.
"I knew if anyone could find some teams for this, it would be Will," Sanders said. "He knows many, many people from across the state. I knew he was the man who could get it done."
All officials will arrive in Alexandria on Nov. 1, where they will be provided the opportunity to participate in training seminars on both Friday night and Saturday morning before taking to the court for the first game at noon.
Sanders is aiming to take this initiative to other sports such as baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball later on, while also hoping to link young officials with older ones, providing stability within the ranks.
"We have so many who love to officiate and it's our job to nurture and develop them in their journey," Sanders said. "I'm extremely excited about this and I'm very grateful to Will Norris, the principal's and schools for being a part of this. This is exciting."
The schedule of games include:
Game 1: Florien vs. Hathaway (girls), noon.
Game 2: Hicks vs. Holden (girls), 1:45 p.m.
Game 3: Hornbeck vs. Atlanta (boys), 3:30 p.m.
Game 4: Hicks vs. Zwolle (boys), 5:15 p.m.
Game 5: Anacoco vs. Plainview (girls), 7 p.m.