USQ announces the referee of the year for 2017-18 season: Austin Pitts.
Austin Pitts has been one of the best reviewed referees league-wide this season. He maintains a perfect 5.0 average rating, with reviews from as early as October and continuing through March. He is also one of the most-reviewed referees in the league. Pitts is praised for his articulate explanation of calls and his patience with players. He has excellent communication skills.
Pitts has experience reffing little league football in high school and worked as an umpire throughout high school and in his first summer after college. He also worked as an intramural referee for flag football at Kansas University during his freshman year. He started playing quidditch in 2013, and began head reffing in 2014.
“My dad is my biggest role model and the person I try to emulate as a referee. He helps run all sorts of little league activities in my hometown, and I’ve always admired the way he is able to educate through calls, and ultimately help the growth of the players he oversees,” Pitts says.
Pitts credits several people for his development: “Dan Hanson was a big reason for my growth as a quidditch referee. His advice regarding my field test gave me a new perspective on reffing quidditch, and gave me clear aspects to focus on moving forward. I want to thank Katie Stack for bringing me on as a Field Test Proctor, as being able to work with referees helped my own skills improve.” He also credits Martin Pyne and Ra Hopkins, who helped push him to high levels of professionalism. He still works to improve his reffing based on how well they handle themselves on pitch.
When it comes to the highlights of his career thus far, Pitts says “narrowing down a favorite game I’ve ever reffed is difficult for me. I can’t point to one game or event that really sticks with me, but overall I’m most proud of every game I’ve been a part of that has first time referees in any position. Without volunteers, this sport that has given me so much couldn’t function, and I really appreciate everyone who has ever worked on a crew with me.”
The winner of the Referee of the Year Award is determined based on the number of officiated games in both head referee and lead assistant referee positions; evaluations from coaches, other referees, and tournament directors; and additional contributions to the sport, such as being a referee field test proctor.
The Referee of the Year Award comes with a commemorative plaque and a travel stipend for US Quidditch Cup 11. However, as Pitts will be playing for Florida’s Finest at this event (in addition to refereeing), he is not eligible to accept the $1,000 stipend. The stipend will instead go to the runner-up, November Referee of the Month Michael Clark-Polner, who has accepted this award.