USA Volleyball

An Emerging Official's HPOP Experience

Jung Park and Nathanael Vander Meerby Nathanael Vander Meer

As a player, coach and collegiate volleyball official, I expected my High Performance Officials Pipeline experience at the 2019 HP Championships to be just like any tournament at which I have officiated, played or coached.

But the experience as a young official was incredible. When I got asked to work this event, my mind was blown, and I signed up right away. There were a few officials that I knew there, but a lot that I did not know, and I made lifelong friends.

After the first day of the event, I couldn't believe the level of club volleyball that I was officiating. It was just as good as most of my college matches. Whenever I was a down official, it seemed like I always had someone behind me helping me with my mechanics (which is a good thing). Whether it was Director of Officials Development Pati Rolf or another official who had introduced themselves to me earlier in the tournament, they gave me amazing feedback.

This was also my very first experience using a headset as an up and down official. My first time, I had Robyn in my ear giving me feedback about my mechanics, how to talk to the scorers' table as an R2, if my elbow was dropped while signaling a serve. They gave me real-time feedback that others might have told me in a debrief after our match, and I was able to apply it immediately.

As time went on, I met more national and international officials. I even worked with some international officials who had great feedback for me. The official cadre was so warm and welcoming; everyone wanted to know where I was from, what I did for work or where I went to school. I talk to a few of the officials on a regular basis still today. They are some of my biggest mentors and some of my greatest friends.

Some people say that officiating is a job, some say it's a hobby, but I say it's a PASSION. It's not every day that you get to tell someone that you love what you do. But officiating volleyball is what I love to do. Being able to spend time with your officiating cadre is some of the best time in the world. You meet new people, make new friends and are able to grow your family.

Pic: The author with fellow official Jung Park