CHUGIAK, Alaska (KTUU) – A Colorado-based nonprofit has been stepping up to the plate since 2019, offering opportunities for veterans to become certified youth sports game officials.
The idea is simple; take veterans who have protected the country and teach them how to Protect The Game. Chief Culture Officer at Triple Crown Sports Patty Harsch came up with the concept after the sporting industry noticed a shortage.
“We had actually really started to notice a shortage of officials,” Harsch said. “I tried to think of something that can help alleviate that problem.”
According to Harsch, unruly fans and bad behavior have ultimately led to referees calling it quits over recent years. That’s when she came up with the idea to train military veterans, giving them a recreational source of income while simultaneously addressing the lack of sports officials.
“A veteran just comes with this, this package that might actually be a solution as to why we’re losing so many sports officials in America,” Harsch stated. “I have this notion that a veteran has seen much worse than an unruly fan.”
The organization trains veterans — as well as their family members — how to officiate certain sporting events through classroom activities and field exercises that ultimately lead to a certification. From there, the nonprofit connects those individuals with industry assignors in their area that hire them for youth games.
“They’ve enjoyed the extra income, they’ve enjoyed the places that they get to go, they’ve enjoyed the camaraderie,” Harsch said.
To date, Protect The Game has certified 70 veterans and their relatives all across America, and now Harsch is looking to add Alaskans to that list. The nonprofit will be running an umpire certification course next week at the Loretta French Sports Complex in Chugiak on Aug. 2nd and 3rd.
The 2-day training is open and free of charge to military veterans and family members. The organization even provides individuals with officiating equipment.
Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.