Photo Joshua Krueger (left) and Marc Barbaccia (right)
Joshua Krueger and Marc Barbaccia were at the New Referee Clinic hosted recently by Welcome Mat Judo in Fond du Lac, WI. Both have just started their official training toward certification as USA Judo referees. While their reasons for pursuing the qualifications differ, the education takes them deeper into the sport they love.
13-year-old Joshua Krueger’s goal is to compete at the 2020 Olympic Games. Experience as a referee could help him get there and, in the meantime, he said, getting some background in the fine art of officiating can also help him work with less experienced, younger judoka on the mat at his home dojo, Club Olympia in Fond du Lac, led by 1988 Olympic Silver Medalist Lynn Roethke.
“I came to the clinic hoping to learn a little about refereeing. I just felt that it would be cool to learn about judo from a different perspective … to get an inside look at all the throws, and what’s going on inside the mat,” he said.
“The bottom line is that I’ve switched gears in the last few years,” said Barbaccia, an instructor at Fight Prime Training Center in Madison, WI. “I’ve gone from being a competitor to a coach.” And, as a coach, training as a referee helps you to better understand the sport, particularly for competition.
“The more you know as a referee, the more you know how to play within the rules,” Barbaccia said.
Barbaccia said he’s been refereeing for a long time, volunteering when the call goes out at local tournaments, “and now I’m going to pull the trigger and get certified.” Eventually, he wants to officiate at elite national tournaments.
This is also a way for Baraccia to stay deeply involved in the sport. “I’m not competing as much, pushing 40, but the passion is always there to grow in judo. So to me it is a way to stay in judo past my competitive years.”
Also, Barbaccia would like to move up the administrative ladder and being a referee could only help prepare him. “I’m looking to eventually move into board positions, where I’m able to help and give back to judo.”