I have been kicking around the idea of becoming a USA Cycling official for some time. This past December I was able to help the sole official at the local Cyclocross race score the race, and, quite frankly, despite the frostbite, I enjoy the process. I also heard that there is a lack of available officials in the NYC area. By sheer coincidence, on the day I was looking at the USA Cycling web site to figure out the steps to take to become an official, a fellow track racer posted on the Kissena Velodrome Facebook page that she was going to go take the officiating class out in PA on the 10th of February. After a quick discussion she convinced me to go in person instead of taking the online course since the class setting would provide a better learning experience. In the end, we ended up carpooling to the location.
The class started at 9:00am and concluded around 3:00pm. Two classes were offered. New Officials, and Returning Officials. Our class was taught by two ladies: Deb and Judy. I recognized them as I am quite certain that I have raced races they were officiating at. They both have been officiating for about thirty years or so, and, because of this, they have a wealth of experience between the two of them.
After signing the paperwork, and such, they started the course off by having a returning official, who was new last year, come in and give us a short two minute speech about her first year as an official. The lady tried to reassure us that even though being an official sounds complex and overwhelming, the way they nurture newbie officials takes the stress out of the learning process.
We spent most of the class going over the duties, responsibilities, some of the rules, and case scenarios. These scenarios came directly from our instructors experience. As a racer, I very much enjoyed hearing the stories from the other side of the coin. At the end of the day we had an exam to complete. After passing the test, it felt very special when we were handed our officiating badge holders.
With the course completed I still had two more big tasks that needed completion. I worked on completing these tasks over the next few days since these tasks consisted of taking the Safe Sport Training, and submitting to a criminal background check. Taking my time, I completed the Safe Sport Training over two days. This training deals with sexual harassment with athletes, specifically with minors, bullying, and hazing. The material can be a bit hard to digest, since I find it very hard to figure how how people can even think of doing the things the course covers. For the criminal background check, all I needed to do was to submit my accurate information to the company hired by USA Cycling and pay them the money. Within 48 hours my results from the background check came back fine. I guess that speeding ticket I got in 2004 did not make me a criminal.
In the meantime, I was added to the New York State officiating mailing lists, and put in contact with the NYSBRA contact who assigns officials to the races. I am still working my way through the process. Right now I am waiting on USA Cycling to receive my paper work from the course and getting me listed as an official. Despite that, I will say I am quite nervous about my first assignment. If things work out, I might work, I mean shadow an official, at the Grant’s Tomb race since I am not racing that event. I did get to do a course recon this past weekend while riding in the city, so at least I am now familiar with the course.
I do not know how things will pan out in the officiating realm for me, but I figured it is worth a try. Who knows I might enjoy it, and this way it will allow me to give back to the cycling community. Also, when my body gets too tired to race as much as I am now, I will have something else to do for the cycling community. Heck, if I get injured like it happened in 2017, and I have to be out most of the season, I can then take on more officiating assignments. Bonus we can get paid to officiate, although it is one of those, “don’t give up your day job” paying gigs.