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March, 2020

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Notes from the Desk of the Chair

A few months ago, the USATF Board of Directors began a process of strategic planning for the next few years. As part of that process, they asked for input from the N.O.C. I gathered ideas from our officers and put together a response. I want to share some key points with you because what we need to accomplish as the N.O.C., for our sport and for one another, cannot be accomplished by just those who are elected to office. It will require us to work together at all levels. Here is some of what I shared with the Board and other USATF Committee Chairs:

What are our strengths? There is a strong commitment to our sport by Officials and broad-based ownership and participation in the work of the National Officials Committee.

What are our “growth areas”? There is an inconsistency among Associations in recruiting and training of officials. This is not to belittle any group. We all realize that Associations vary in numbers, geography, and resources and all of us do this as volunteers – balancing officiating, jobs, family, and more. As our officials age and as the number of Certified Officials has declined over the past Olympiad with the addition of required SafeSport and Background Screens, this is an area in which we need to grow.

What are our priorities over the next 2-3 years? 

  • An effective plan for recruiting a young and diverse generation of new officials. This is vital for the continued health of our sport and the National Officials Committee and will require many groups to work together, including the N.O.C. Officers, our N.O.C. Affirmative Development, Young Officials, and Junior Officials Sub-Committee, Association Certification Chairs, individual Officials, and the USATF National Office.
  • An investment in the mentoring and developing of young officials who will lead the National Officials Committee in the future. Mentoring and development have to be priorities for every Association and every official. We can’t afford to “protect our positions”. Good officials know the rules and procedures of their events; great officials are mentoring others to take their place.
  • An accessible training curriculum that makes use of technology and provides professional and consistent training of officials nationwide. An investment in the training of officials will result in better officiating at all levels. This will better serve the athletes competing, as well as reduce the number of injuries and accidents at meets. Our Training Sub-committee has done a good job expanding their reach over the past year and we are developing video resources that we hope to soon have available.
  • A consistent program of showing appreciation to Certified Officials to aid in their retention. Officials are committed to our sport and our athletes and serve because of their love for the sport, often at much personal cost and inconvenience. Actions that can show respect and appreciation for those efforts can go a long way toward cementing their commitment to officiating.

2020 USATF Rule Books: You can purchase the new USATF Rule Book from a discounted price of $10 for Certified Officials at the USATF website: You can also purchase blue and red Certified Official Polos and a Certified Officials cap. You can get the access code from your Association Certification Chair.

2020 USATF U20 Championship: The date and site for the 2020 U20 Championship has been announced. The meet will be held on June 12-14 in Miramar, FL.

Do you have stories? One of the great things about getting together with our "Officiating Family" at a meet or convention is sitting around and telling stories. We are always amazed at what happens at track meets! But as time passes, some of those stories will fade from memory if we don't make an effort to preserve them - especially those from some of our mentors such as Charlie Ruter, Chester Bradley, Murray Sanford, Rex Harvey, Linda Melzer, and others. So I want to ask you to send me your funny and interesting stories from officiating. Mica Barton of the Southwestern Association will help me edit them (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent) and we will start to compile them. Do you have stories?

Apprentice Referee Program: The National Officials Committee (N.O.C.) has partnered with the Diversity & Leadership Development (D&L) Committee to sponsor the Apprentice Referee Program initiative, which seeks to diversify the pool of qualified officials who are eligible to officiate at major domestic meets (and international championship meets held in the United States) by furnishing structured opportunities for up to three selected officials to work with senior referees at major meets each year. More information and the application form can be found here. The application deadline is midnight (CDT) on April 5. Contact Delores Murray ( for more information. 

Take time to update your SafeSport: If you have not completed SafeSport in 2018 or 2019, you will need to do update this. You can renew at Also, starting in 2020, an annual "refresher" course will be required. This will take 20-30 minutes to complete.

Make sure your Certification is current: Please make sure that your USATF membership is renewed for 2020 and that your Background Screen is current. Both are needed to be certified.

You can contact Mike Armstrong via email at


Marty's Training Tip

Last time I promised (threatened) to expand on the topic of how to make competitions we are involved in more athlete-centered. I tried to emphasize how it is not our job to “get” an athlete, nor should we ever brag about how many athletes we disqualified or upon whom we called fouls. Unfortunately, I have heard that conversation take place more than once, and I am always appalled. And while I like to think that our newsletter reaches a wide audience, and officials actually pay attention, the Facebook posts from the recent conference championship weekend would lead me to believe otherwise. Please remember, you need to be positive before you make that call and raise the red flag! 

So, before I get started in on my rant again, let’s talk about another aspect of the athlete-centered official: your demeanor.

How we deal with others is something I spoke about in the January 2019 issue of the NOC newsletter. In that case I called it Soft Skills. The issues I spoke about then still remain, and I still see them being ignored by officials around the country. Folks, we need to be calm.

Repeat after me . . . C A L M.

The athletes we deal with are competing. They aren’t out there just to have fun; they want to win! Because of that, because of the years of work, daily hard work, the injuries they have overcome, the injuries they are nursing now, the competitive fire that drives them (no matter the level of the meet), the athletes will be wound up. If you as an official contribute to the atmosphere by being brusque, rude, domineering, curt, dismissive . . . you get the idea; if you don’t maintain your calm demeanor, then the athletes can very easily go from on top of their game and ready to compete to worrying about you.

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


March Is National Women's History Month

March is declared as National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is Sunday, March 8th. Big thanks to the ladies for what you do and paving the way for generations to follow. You can learn more about the celebration of Women’s History Month by following the link below.


Misc. Tidbits from the N.O.C. Secretary

Meets Needing Officials: Several championship meets are looking for officials for competitions this spring and summer. A list of the meets and links to officials’ applications can be found on line at

Best Practices: Several Best Practices and Resources documents have recently been added or updated:

  • Javelin Warm-ups, Feb 2020 (Throws)
  • Hurdle Heights & Placement, Dec 2019 (Umpiring)
  • Throws Rules Comparison, Jan 2020 (Throws)
  • Umpire Incident Report Form, Dec 2019 (Umpiring)
  • Horizontals Rules Comparison, Jan 2020 (Horizontals)
  • Starter Monograph 2020 (Starting)
  • Time Limits & Absence from Competition, Jan 2020 (Field Events - General)

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

National Officials Shirt: USATF will continue to provide a free blue Nike Certified Official polo shirt to all newly certified officials through the next Olympiad. For currently certified officials, if you have a need for a new shirt, you may order one through the USATF Store at this link. Note: Be sure to check your USATF membership profile to make sure you have the correct size entered.

Certified Official Pin: A new, multicolored "USATF Certified Official" pin has been created and is now in the hands of Association Certification Chairs. Over the coming weeks, they will distribute these to officials certified within their Association.

Grant Programs: Program descriptions and eligibility criteria for two relatively new N.O.C. grant programs have been posted on the N.O.C. website – for Technical Managers, and for Implement Inspectors. The grants will help defray costs for travel to a major meet, where grant recipients will be provided with mentoring and hands-on training, so as to develop a larger pool of trained and prepared officials in the respective disciplines. For more information on the grants, click on this link.


February Para Meet Update by Carroll DeWeese

I do not yet have any information for officials to apply to be part of the 2020 Para Trials in Minneapolis.

The USA Adaptive Sports Junior Nationals track and field events will be in Denver, Colorado, July 22-24, 2020. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 13. A link exists to apply but I found that my security software blocks it. You can contact Jessie Cloy, Adaptive Sports USA Junior Committee Chair, at to get information about the meet and how to apply.

The 50th Tri-State Wheelchair & Ambulatory Games being held at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, NJ, May 23-24, 2020, is looking for USATF Officials. USATF Officials will be given a stipend of $75 per day. If you are interested in helping, please contact the Meet Director Jimmy Cuevas as soon as possible: 551-655-4176 (cell) or

Many other meets exist. Attached is a link which gives names, dates, locations, websites, contacts, contact information, and more about many upcoming meets:

I recommend that if you find dates and locations that work for you, contact by email or phone the contact person to get information and signup. Although some of the meets are months into the future, many may have deadlines within the next few weeks, especially those that will provide some support for officials to come and help.


Race Walk Officiating by Dan Pierce

I’ve been asked to write a Race Walk column for the N.O.C. Newsletter. While it may not seem possible, I almost immediately thought of many aspects of race walking officiating that needed to be covered, preferably all at once. Let’s start with a basic explanation of what Race Walk Officials do. We’ll cover details and specifics in the future.

Just like all other events, Race Walk Officials help keep events fair and safe. In addition to the usual Officials needed for a running race there are two types of race walk officials needed for a race walk: Race Walk Judges and Race Walk Officials. The Judges observe to make sure two race walk Rules are followed and the Race Walk Officials keep the paperwork straight during and after the event.

RW Judges are assigned the tasks of looking for appropriately “straightened” knees and that “no visible loss of contact” with the ground occurs. If a Judge is not “completely satisfied” that either of these Rules is not being followed the Judge should show the athlete a yellow paddle indicating which infraction may be occurring. When a Judge observes a competitor who fails to comply with either rule, the Judge shall issue a Red Card.

The yellow paddles are informational only (like a 15 second yellow flag in a field event, it’s an attempt to help the athlete stay within the rules). However, three Red Cards and the athlete is disqualified. Its race walking’s version of three strikes and you’re out.

Other Race Walk Officials are a Recorder (the same job as field events), DQ board Operator (similar to a display board in field events) and possibly an Official to help notify an athlete of a disqualification. In addition, race walking uses standard running event Officials like Umpires, Lap Scorers and Timers.

Race walking has a couple additional rules that differentiate it from running. It uses the same Officials as running plus a couple others. The reason for having Officials is the same, it’s all about keeping events fair and safe. Race walk officiating can be learned in a few minutes. The problem is you may find yourself trying to improve your skill as an Official for the next few decades.

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


The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Come to Atlanta, GA, Running City USA

by Cindy Slayton, USATF/GA Association Officials Committee Chair
Almost 25 years ago, the city of Atlanta did what many cities around the world could not do. The Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee brought the 1996 Olympics to their city and state. Although there are still many signs of those glorious days under the sun around the city, many thought we would only have our memories of those days to cling to and remember. In those days, the city of Atlanta was called “the City of Dreams”. Today the city is called “Running City USA” and yes, a part of the Olympic experience has come to our city yet again, the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Hosting this event showed the best runners in the United States and fans of distance running across the country why Atlanta is a premier running destination. This is a city that caught the Olympic fever in 1996 and never looked back. The excitement around the rings and you saw the pride in that Olympic legacy as the Olympic future was forged on the streets of Atlanta on a windy day in February.

“Atlanta Track Club’s bid to host the Trials was built around not only Atlanta’s Olympic legacy, but also its Olympic future” said Rich Kenah, executive director of the Atlanta Track Club, which is serving as the Local Organizing Committee for the Trials. “That not only refers to the six athletes who will stamp their ticket to the Tokyo Games on February 29, but also the outstanding high school track and field talent across the state of Georgia.*

2020 USA Olympic Marathon Team
L to R: Seidel, Tuliamuk, Kipyego, Riley, Rupp, Abdirahman

*Excerpts from “Olympic Trials Course Tweaked, High School Events Added”, Wingfoot: Magazine of Atlanta Track Club, October 2019. p. 26.


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.


From Bill Roe’s “Birth Family” to His Other Larger Family

As Bill Roe’s brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, we all realize that though there are quite a few of us, there are a lot more of YOU. The members of Bill’s track and field and cross country families could fill the biggest stadium, and span the last fifty years. We always knew there were a lot of you, but since Bills sudden death the true scope of his impact has really become almost overwhelming. We decided in our family to let his greater and larger family know what the autopsy revealed about his death, in the hopes it will give you the comfort it’s given us.

On Friday March 6th the Canadian coroner performed a complete autopsy, as well as a toxicology screen. They found that Bill died from a massive heart attack; and since everyone knows that Bill had a huge heart, that must have been extra massive.

The autopsy also revealed very serious and advanced heart disease, with some arteries over 95% blocked, and none less than 75% occluded. The coroner’s opinion is that the myocardial infarction (heart attack) was likely so sudden that death was immediate, Bill likely never knew what hit him, and it was as quick as “flipping off a light switch.” I know that information brought some comfort to us. We hope it does to you.

They tested for other things and the tests were all negative, including for COVID 19 (which they tested for because of Bills recent trip to New Zealand). They found no drugs, which didn’t surprise us, but also no beer, which kind of did.

So. Bill was in Victoria, doing what he loved surrounded by people he cared about, and immersed in the sport he devoted much of his life to. It looks like he passed very quickly and with minimal pain and suffering, if any at all. We are going to have a wake to celebrate our brother and your friend on April 5, a Sunday, in Bellingham. We hope you can join us. Further details to come.

Jan, Becky, Bob, Mark and Jim. Bills brothers and sisters. Sarah, Julie, Katie, Natalie, Brian, Andrea, Chelsey, Matt, Maggie, Sam, Tom, Kirby, and Kay. Bills nieces and nephews


Congratulations Don Berry

Congratulations to Don Berry on being named the 2020 Larry LaBrie Award Outstanding Contributions to Maine Principals Associations Interscholastic Division. Don is the parliamentarian for the N.O.C. and longtime certification chair for the Maine Association. Congratulations Don.


World Athletics News ~ February 2020 Newsletter

The World Athletics (formerly international Association of Athletics Federations) has posted their monthly summary of World Athletics news dated February 28, 2020, Edition 210. Click here to download your copy today.


Olympic Trials Website

The USATF Officials who will officiate the U.S. Olympic Trials have been selected. However, there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteer positions that need to be filled in order to stage the Trials.

The Olympic Trials volunteer registration website will go live at 9 a.m. (PST) on Wednesday, March 11. Those wishing to apply for a position can visit tracktown20.comand select the volunteer link to register. There are a wide variety of meet support jobs available. These positions receive no financial compensation or travel reimbursement.

If you are going to be in Eugene, Oregon on June 19 through 28, you might consider volunteering and help send Team USA to Tokyo.


Alabama Association Notes from Dora Sims

Check out the latest news from the Alabama Association by downloading their newsletter.


Laurie’s USATF Rule of the Month ~ Ultraweight

RULE 196
1. Construction - The Ultraweight shall consist of three parts: a main body, a handle, and a connection assembly

2. Main Body - The main body should be either a solid cylinder or constructed of no more than two solid cylinders (200 lb weight) or three solid cylinders (300 lb weight) stacked and held together so as to form an essentially solid cylinder.
(a) The cylinder shall be made of a material no softer than lead. An outer casing, such as a steel pipe, may be used, provided the length and diameter specifications are maintained.
(b) The diameter of the cylinder shall not exceed 26.7cm nor be less than 15.25cm.

7. Throwing Area - The following apply for the 98, 200 and 300 lb implements.

(a) Construction - The Ultraweight shall be thrown from a square that is made of bands of iron, steel or other suitable material, and painted white. The surface of the square may be sunk flush with the surrounding ground or installed on top of the ground; the latter case being allowed for ease of transportation and storage of the hardware, as well as providing the ability to assemble the square so the front side is even with the edge of the concrete or other slab. If it is installed on the surface of the ground, provisions should be made that allow securing of the square to eliminate movement for the duration of the competition. The surface surrounding the square may be concrete, synthetic, asphalt, wood or any other suitable material. The surface within the square shall be constructed of concrete or similar material. The throwing field shall be level with the surface within the square.

RULE 203 - Ultraweight Pentathlon 
6. The measurement of only the 98 lb, 200 lb and 300 lb Ultraweight Throw implements shall be made from the nearest mark made by the landing of the implement to the inside of the front of the throwing square along a line from the mark. The measurement of the throw shall be made at right angles from the inside of the front foul line. The nearest visible part of the break/imprint to the throwing square shall be measured after the implement has ceased to move. The handle imprint is not measured. The measurement for the other implements (56 lb and below) shall be as normally defined.


Betsy’s World Athletics Rule of the Month
World Athletics Addresses Changing Shoe Technology

Until January of this year, the regulations of Track & Field’s international federation governing footwear were relatively simple:

Athletes may compete barefoot or with footwear on one or both feet. The purpose of shoes for competition is to give protection and stability to the feet and a firm grip on the ground. Such shoes, however, must not be constructed so as to give athletes any unfair assistance or advantage. Any type of shoe used must be reasonably available to all in the spirit of the universality of athletics. (Rule 142)

However, beginning in 2016, technological advances in running shoes began to fundamentally change the landscape. The addition of carbon fiber plates and new cushioning materials, seen in Nike’s VaporFly shoes, provided an energy return to a runner, contributing to marked drops athletes’ times in distance races. Between 2016 and 2019, the size of the cushioning in the sole increased steadily.


Spring those Clocks Forward


Did you get this newsletter from a friend?


Important Deadlines

  • Now: Renew your background check
  • Now: Renew USATF Membership
  • End of March: Complete online SafeSport review

Coming Next Issue

  • We are adding a new feature from Richard Messenger covering Weights and Measures.

Important Links

In case you were not able to open the links embedded in the above news items, they are below:

Announcements for the Newsletter

If you have an item you would like included in the newsletter, please send your submissions to The submission deadline is the 25th of each month in order to be included in the subsequent issue. We will accept announcements, articles and other news-type items that are national in scope. Local announcements and opinion pieces will not be included. Please be aware that all submissions are subject to approval by the N.O.C. Executive Committee.


In Need of Officials?

If you are the official’s coordinator for a national championship or major regional meet and would like to have it listed on our calendar, please visit our new Applications page and submit it. All applications are subject to review before posting.

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