Recruiting new football officials is an ongoing effort in Portland

The Portland Football Officials Association has lost more than 35% of their crews in recent years.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:03 AM PDT
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BEAVERTON, Ore. (KPTV) - From the coast to Corbett and Scappoose to Sherwood, recruiting new football officials is an ongoing effort in the Pacific Northwest, especially for the Portland Football Officials Association which has lost more than 35% of their crews in recent years.

Now hiring: it’s a sign of the times in virtually all avenues of commerce and industry. The need for quite a few new women and men to officiate football in the Rose City and beyond is making the call for help too.

Training day before training camp, the Portland Football Officials Association is coaching up the next generation to enforce the rules of the game.

“We served the first schools in 1947, never, ever has the roster been this low,” said Darryl Willis, who is in his 34th season as a football official. “Number 1, it’s a blast. Number 2, you’ll be challenged by the game. It’s totally different than watching in the stands or on the couch, and you’ll be challenged mentally and physically like you never have been before. And Number 3, you’ll never watch a football game the same way.”

Ashleigh Edwards is finding a way as a lawyer by day and an official recruit for the fall after visiting pfoa.us.

“It really lets you appreciate the game on so many different levels,” said Edwards.

PFOA runs a three-year curriculum with mentorship and guidance to teach the proper way to officiate from 5th grade to high school varsity.

“I was really apprehensive at first because not having the player background, I wasn’t sure if I would have the same knowledge-base as some other folks, but it really does take you from ground zero, up,” Edwards said.

The PFOA has 120 regular officials who have worked for three or more years with another 40 or so who are learning on the job.

“We need 190 to 200 officials just to service the games we have in our area,” Willis said. “A quarter of us are Medicare eligible, we are too old. The average age is north of 47 now, we need to get that down, and the only way we are going to be doing that is to continue our recruiting and retain those new recruits.”

Anyone interested in becoming a football official can find more information here.

The high school football season kicks off on Sept. 1. The lack of officials is causing games to be split between Thursday and Friday nights, as well as Saturdays, but at least the games will be played and not canceled for the kids.

The return of Friday Night Lights is just five weeks away. FNL with Nick Krupke and crew will be live every Friday at 10:30 p.m. on FOX 12 Oregon.