USATF Newsletter - April 2020

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April, 2020

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Notes from the Desk of the Chair

Covid-19 Update: I hope this edition of our newsletter finds you safe and taking the appropriate precautions to care for yourself and others. As you know, more meets are getting postponed or cancelled as we move into the Spring. This includes the US Olympic Trials (postponed), the U20 Championship (cancelled) and the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Championships in Jacksonville (cancelled). Keep watching the USATF website for more information. Of particular help is their Covid-19 page: It provides updates on suggested protocols for meets and information for athletes and meet organizers.

Recertification Update: I have received questions regarding the upcoming recertification process. We will do recertifications in the fall of 2020 as planned - even with the postponement of the Olympic Games. This will keep us on our four-year rotation and in line with when the Games were scheduled to take place. The Rules Sub-committee has been working on the Rules Reviews and they are currently being reviewed by a variety of individuals. New "Certified Official" pins for the next Olympiad have already been made and distributed to Association Certification Chairs. USATF also confirmed that all officials who certify in the next Olympiad will again receive a Certified Officials polo from USATF. I appreciate very much the National Officials investment in us through these two items.

New USATF Membership Rates: Within the next few weeks, USATF will roll out new membership rates. Adult memberships will go to $40 and Youth memberships go to $25. There will also be a four-year membership that is available only to Certified Officials at $35 per year. We appreciate the USATF making this available to us and would encourage you to take advantage of it. A multi-year membership will help ensure that your certification doesn't lapse at the start of a new year.

SafeSport: As we began mentioning in the fall, if you completed your SafeSport training before 2018 you will need to update that. You may do that at, and then click on training and education. If you originally did your SafeSport at an Annual Meeting or in a group setting at a clinic, you will need to create a profile with SafeSport. This is different than your USATF membership and profile. You will enter your USATF membership number as a part of your profile so that your compliance can be recorded. If you have questions or run into a problem, you can get assistance at

Emergency Contact Information: A recent topic of discussion among many officials has been the need to have Emergency Contact information for officials in case of an injury or illness. I would encourage all officials to carry that information with them and all meet organizers and Officials Coordinators to consider collecting that information on the officials who work their meets. Officials will also be able to enter this information on their USATF profiles in the future.

Junior Official Program Update: The Junior Official Sub-committee, chaired by Ashley Newton and Mike Trego, is getting close to launching their program for mentoring those 14-17 years of age who are interested in officiating. They are putting the final touches on a Mentorship Manual Handbook. This is a vital piece as this is fundamentally a mentorship program for those who are participating. They are also compiling a Participant Handbook. The current shut-down of activities will allow them to make some great strides. One future goal is to work with the Training Committee on video aspects of the curriculum. Their goal is to launch the program no later than January 2021.

Correction: In the February newsletter, one of the names of our Young Officials Grant recipients was misspelled. Aysha Mirza of the New Jersey Association was a recipient.

Implement Inspector and Technical Manager Grants: We had many more applicants than we had grants available so after much deliberation we are pleased to announce these recipients:

  • Theresa Bone (Three Rivers) - Implement Inspector
  • Alex Jupiter (Potomac Valley) - Implement Inspector
  • Jonathan Dias (New England) - Technical Manager
  • Alanzo Taylor (Southwestern) - Technical Manager

You can contact Mike Armstrong via email at


Marty’s Training Tip

Like the rest of you (hopefully), I have been practicing social distancing and self-isolation by staying in my house as much as possible for these last few weeks, and I expect to continue that practice for a while longer. Also like many of you, I am doing every project around the house possible to avoid snacking the day away. We all miss track meets. We all miss getting to see our friends at these events. So, how can we stay sharp as officials and avoid the boredom and depression that comes with being away from the sport we all love and the people that make it so special for the next few months or more?

I have seen a lot of efforts to interact on Facebook via games and quizzes. I have seen photos of track meets and officials from days gone by. I have found myself looking for old competitions in the On Demand library of shows from my cable provider. I have called friends across the country and had long conversations about nothing, just because they are part of my track family, and I miss them all. The point of all this is simple. We are social beings, and we miss each other. I know that track meets where I am the new guy in town aren’t nearly as much fun as when I am there with my friends and colleagues I have known for years. So, keep in touch with other and check in on your friends. Make this an opportunity to reach out to officials you only see when you travel or those who have retired from actively officiating. The call might make you laugh or remember a specific event, and it’s good for your psyche to reach out. Take care of yourselves mentally as well as physically, and when the worst of this has passed and we are out at a meet, we can hug and shake hands and rejoice at seeing each other healthy and happy once again.

That’s my advice for taking care of each other, but you can also use this time to stay sharp as an official. During my last meet before the NCAA shut down, I was the Field Referee at a conference championship. We had Eagle Eye video systems in place for the horizontal jumps and on the throwing ring, and the running events had cameras posted up high to catch as much of the track as possible with the resources available. Other conferences I know use similar systems, some try and use handheld systems, and some have none. I have seen some videos posted of the handheld systems, and I can tell you that while they are good for keeping your eye sharp, you must be extremely careful about relying on them as evidence IF THEY ARE NOT SET UP PROPERLY! . . .

Have a great day, and as always, if you have any suggestions for new training tips, please forward them to me at


Best Practices Updates from the Rich

The following documents in the Best Practices Library were recently updated; check the date on any item you’ve printed off to see if you need to produce a new copy.

Field Events General – Time Limits & Absence From Competition; Flight Coord. Activities
High Jump – HJ Event Preps; HJ Instr. to Athletes – NCAA & USATF; HJ Venue Diag. & Assignments; Rules Comparison
Horizontals – Horiz. Event Preps; Horiz. Instr. to Athletes – NCAA & USATF
Pole Vault - PV Event Preps; PV Instr. to Athletes – NCAA & USATF; Rules Comparison
Starting – Starter’s Monograph
Throws – Throws Event Preps; Throws Instr. to Athletes – NCAA & USATF; Ultraweight Instr. To Athletes
Umpiring - Hurdle Heights & Placement; Umpire Incident Report Form

As always, if you have an idea for a change, or for a new document, send your input to the Best Practices Editor at


April Para Meet Update by Carroll DeWeese

By now, most Paralympic competitions in the USA and around the world for Spring and summer of 2020 have been canceled or postponed to dates uncertain. With the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo cancelled for 2020 and moved to 2021, the Paralympic Games has also been cancelled and moved to 2021. The Paralympic Games dates will be August 24, 2021 through September 5, 2021. The US Paralympic Trials for Track and Field have been postponed until 2021.

Some para track and field competitions are still scheduled for the spring and summer but could be canceled or postponed. Officials need to check with the local organizers. For example, the UCO Endeavor Games in Norman, OK is still scheduled to occur June 4-7, but a final decision will be made at the first few days of May on whether to hold it or not.

A listing of many para meets and their status can be found at

Contact information for the meets can be found at

This is a good time for officials to get up to date on rules. The latest 2020 World Para Athletics Rules and Regulations can be accessed and downloaded from

2020 Adaptive Track and Field USA Rules (ATFUSA) and ATFUSA Significant Changes Document can be found at

Most rules have not changed much from 2019 to 2020. One big change is a rule for leg amputees in jumps. The 2019 rule stated that . . .


Chief Judges, Red Cards and Disqualification in the Final 100m by Dan Pierce

The past couple years there has been a persistent question about Race Walk judging in the US; can the Chief Judge write a Red Card on an athlete and also disqualify the same athlete in the last 100m of a race? The short answer is yes, when it’s appropriate.

In the 1990s there some incidents when athletes were able to get out of control (e.g. run to the finish line) in front of a worldwide audience. In World Championships and Olympics the Race Walk courses are preferably 1k to 2k loops on the road that start and finish with a lap on the track. While there might be nine Judges for a walk only a couple Judges could be brought into the stadium to judge the finish. The other Judges were still needed out on the road loop. The resolution to this situation was to allow the Chief Judge to disqualify an athlete that “obviously fails” to follow the rules in the final 100m.

The rule allowing the Chief Judge to singlehandedly disqualify an athlete in the final 100m was only intended to be used at major events. In the US we mainly use it at trials events for international competition and National Championships. In other race walks it is unlikely that the Chief Judge will have any special power to disqualify in the last 100m.

The following are basic reasons a Chief Judge may write a Red Card . . .

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. What would you like to see in this column? I can be reached at


Implement Inspections by Richard Messenger
(New Monthly Feature)

After consulting with Bob Springer, Chair of the N.O.C. Implement Sub-Committee, I have come up with some numbers from the implement reports that were submitted to him this indoor season. Here are the numbers:

Implement Number Submitted Number Impounded
Women's Shott 121 4
Women's Weight 104 6
Men's Shot 102 8
Men's Weight 76 9

Most of the shots that were rejected were either underweight or had rough surfaces, splits or gouges in them. With the weights, the issues were mostly underweight or ripped harness. Most of the reports indicated that when there was a length issue the implement inspector was able to adjust the length of the harness and then declare the implement legal.

Just as a reminder, implement inspectors should make sure they are checking all indoor weight fasteners for tightness, whether they appear loose or not. Loose fasteners are an accident waiting to happen.

If you have any questions or ideas for future newsletters contact Richard Messenger at


Update on the National Technical Official Assessment/Process from Betsy Reed

During 2019, the process earning, or maintaining, the designation of National Technical Official (NTO) changed. Effective with the new certification cycle, no one will hold the title without passing a written and oral assessment, and the credential must be renewed each Olympiad. The assessment can be completed in person at certain events and will always be offered during the Annual Meeting. Very shortly, it will be available through a combination of on-line assessment and an electronic oral.

Form of the Assessment: All information from the assessment comes from Book C – Competition of World Athletics, and it covers all elements competition. Although the vast majority of the questions involve the Combined, Field and Track events, information related to Race Walking, long distance running, the roles of specific officials, and other events may appear on the written assessment. Success on the assessment requires familiarity with all parts of the rules book.

The written assessment is “open book,” and includes a multiple-choice section, fill-in-the-blank questions, addressing situations that might arise during a meet and require a constructed response, evaluating a results sheet from a vertical jump to determine the places of all the competitors, and determining which competitors would advance to the next round of a competition and the lanes in which they would run. These sections match the format used in other nations’ Level I tests, and also those administered by World Athletics and its area offices. Individuals have a maximum of two hours to complete the assessment, and a passing score for the written section is 80%.

Everyone who takes the written assessment will be given the chance to complete the oral section. It will include one question from each of these areas: Track, Field, and Combined Events; a tester will choose a number (1 to 4) and must answer two of the three correctly to pass the oral section. The oral section is “closed book,” and will use at least two evaluators. Individuals who take the on-line assessment will be given the opportunity to take the oral section through an on-line chat program.

Requirements for the Assessment: Any active official currently certified at the level of Master or National may take the assessment. If someone is not successful in eitherportion, . . .


NCAA Rules Corner ~ Rules Interpretations

The newest rules clarifications and interpretations (2019-2020) are being posted at

If you find this helpful, please let Mark Kostek know.


NCAA is a Ghost Town by Phil Sutton

The Coronavirus has had a profound impact on track and field all over the world. Athletes, coaches, and fans are feeling the effects. Another group coming to grips with the cancelations and suspensions are track and field officials. Many have turned to social media to express their feelings.

Here are a few Facebook posts by U.S. officials:

“NCAA is a Ghost Town.” Jennifer from California

“Well, the high school and college track meets I was scheduled to work are all cancelled. I did go and walk around a local high school track and field event area as I would do before a meet. Strange with no athletes there. I even dreamed last night of working a track meet. I guess dreams will have to do for now.” David from Pennsylvania

“It sounds like we are going to miss the entire Track & Field season. It’s a bummer, no doubt. I’d like to send my best to each athlete, coach, AD, official, and every person that it takes to have a successful meet! My prayers are with each of you! However, I am happy to sacrifice seeing each of you now, if that makes it possible for our USATF family to enjoy many more healthy years together.” Holly from Indiana

“Fellow officials, don’t underestimate the loss you are going to feel this spring. The loss of interaction with athletes, other officials, the feel of the track under your feet, the circumference of the circle, the length of the runway. Reach out to other officials, text each other, stay in contact. We are all going to feel a sense of loss and just connecting will help us get through this hurdle that has been thrown in our path. Stay strong…stay connected and we will meet on the other side.” Teena from Pennsylvania

“We don’t realize how much we enjoy something until it’s taken away.” Tom from Texas

“Looks like this track season is lost. Who would have thought something like this would happen and have such an effect on the nation and its athletics, schools, and people. We have to keep plugging away for our families and ourselves and wait for next year. Hopefully there won’t be this kind of chaos next year.” Mike from Oregon

“Be safe everyone and let’s beat this virus together!” Diane from Ohio


World Athletics News ~ March, 2020 Newsletter

The World Athletics (formerly international Association of Athletics Federations) has posted their monthly summary of World Athletics news dated March 31, 2020, Edition 211. Click here to download your copy today.  


Laurie’s USATF Rule of the Month
Vertical Jumps

In the vertical jumps, after the competition has started, open athletes are not entitled to a run through or warm-up, unless the Games Committee and/or Referee has decided otherwise. For Youth and Masters, see below.

In the High Jump and Pole Vault, a competitor who has passed three consecutive heights after the competition has begun may be permitted a warm-up jump without the crossbar in place. One such jump may be taken for each three passed heights and shall be taken as earned, not cumulatively. As an alternative to this procedure, and at the competitor’s choice, a competitor who has passed three consecutive increments or more shall be allowed one run-through, without the crossbar in place, at the height which he/she enters the competition. NOTE: A warm-up after three consecutive passes may be delayed by competitor choice, but once taken eliminates any warm-up until earned again with three new passes.

In the vertical jumps, a competitor who has not taken an initial trial in at least one (1) hour from the first trial of the competition, shall be allowed, under the direction of the event official, to use the runway and landing areas without the crossbar to warm-up with one attempt within one minute. Such warm-up shall occur at the change of the bar to the height the competitor enters the competition.



Stay Healthy and Safe


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