EN-the-little-engine-that-could-button-busy-beaver-button-museumWe have all heard or used the phrase “Mind over Matter” haven’t we?  Have you ever had an obstacle in your path that prevented you from accomplishing something – and no matter how much you wanted to do whatever it was you felt intimidated or even afraid?  I think we have all been there.

When I talk with new officials one of their biggest concerns is “Can I do this?”  And without fail the biggest fear is climbing up that referee stand to work as an R1. It’s understandable and every volleyball official has been there.  Every one of us had to make that climb for the first time as butterflies churned in our stomachs.  For many veterans butterflies still set in before a match (and that is okay).

Do you remember the children’s story about the Little Engine that could?

“A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill. ‘I can’t; that is too much a pull for me’, said the great engine built for hard work. Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. ‘I think I can’, puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.'”

“As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, ‘I—think—I—can, I—think—I—can.’ It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, ‘I thought I could, I thought I could.'”

For new officials, going up on the stand is a lot like that!  Start saying, “ I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” and then go for it.  Find a match this week and ask your co-official to let you work a set as the R1.  If you have not worked as an R1 let them know this is your first time.  They will protect you.  They will help you.  If you forget to blow your whistle when the ball hits the floor they’ll blow theirs.  If you forget to blow your whistle when the ball is hit out of bounds they will blow theirs.  If you forget to signal (or what to signal) they will lead and you can mirror them.

The truth is every new official has seen enough volleyball by now to work a B level or C level middle school match. Here is all you really need to know:

  1. Blow your whistle for serve and bring your arm across your body to beckon for serve.
  2. Blow your whistle when the ball hits the floor or something out of bounds – or goes into the net on the serve.
  3. Signal point the side who earned the point and then show the sign for “in”, “out or touch”, or point to net for a net serve.

Those are the big ones.  Seriously!  And if you forget any of this your co-official is there to help you. They will even protect you from the coaches.  RIGHT VETERANS??

And when it’s all over you will be like that little engine who said, “I thought I could!” It will be something you will remember, learn from, and gain confidence in knowing you have finally done it.  I promise you’ll be glad you did!

So this week and the rest of this month, be brave and adventurous and step up and be that little engine that could.  Set mind over matter and you will probably find that the R1 position is actually easier than the R2.  You can’t wait until next year when you are the second year official working with a newbie and neither one of you have ever been up as the R1.

Hey, I know you can do it – and I assure you the rest of the veteran officials in our chapter are rooting for you.