USQ announces the referee of the year for the 2019-20 season: Toby March
USQ is proud to select Toby March as the 2019-20 Referee of the Year. March has been one of the most active officials in the league this year, with nearly 50 games officiated as a head referee, plus 10 more as a lead assistant referee. He attended four regional championships as a non-playing official: the Northeast, Great Lakes, Southwest and West Regional Championships. His willingness to adjust his schedule on the fly helped keep delays to a minimum throughout the events. He is frequently praised for his command of the pitch and positioning during play. March also works as a field test proctor and is a member of USQ’s referee team.
“It’s a little surreal to win this award this season, as the quidditch community struggles to endure a global pandemic,” March said. “I wish I could be out there on the pitch with you all instead of being stuck in my apartment with a pile of library books, but I’m honored to accept this award.”
Though he joined the quidditch community as a player for the Ithaca College Hex in 2010, March has been a non-playing referee since 2015 - the same year that he was recruited by a coworker to officiate flat-track roller derby. “You’d think that trying to learn two radically different games would melt your brain,” he said, “but I think it was invaluable for my development as a referee. Reffing multiple sports naturally encourages you to compare them and understand the rules better by picking apart the ways that they differ. And the skills that you pick up in one sport can be easily applied to another - roller derby requires you to have clear communication, to be constantly adjusting your position (on skates!) to follow play, and to be 100% certain of the impact of a foul before issuing a penalty.”
March is also active in the international quidditch scene, having officiated at British Quidditch Cup, Quidditch Canada Eastern Regional Championships, and multiple IQA World Cups, European Games and Pan-American Games. He remembers the 2017 IQA European Games in Oslo, Norway as one of his favorite events. “Being selected to head referee the final was absolutely nerve-wracking,” he said, “It was the highest-stakes game I had ever head reffed.” As soon as we selected the rest of the crew, I pulled them away from the fields so that we could all take a chance to catch a breath and get in sync before the match. It sounds sort of ridiculous, but it was practically a meditative experience. Once we stepped onto the pitch, though, it felt like we were totally locked in, and the rest of the game flowed smoothly from that point.”
March cites veteran quidditch officials like Clay Dockery, Andrew Canto, and Chris Beesley as big influences on his development, especially at the start of his career. “They put up with my endless questions about rulebooks six through nine and encouraged me to move from conference to national-level officiating. I’ve also gotten to work with some incredibly talented officials who came up around the same time that I did - people like Kym Couch, Chris LeCompte, Ashara Peiris, and Tanghi Burlion - who are fantastic to work with at any position in a ref crew. And realistically, quidditch wouldn’t be what it is without dedicated volunteers and players around the world - their hard work and passion remind me why I love this sport,” he said.
The Referee of the Year award is selected annually from the winners of the Referee of the Month awards. The Referee of the Month award is open to all US Quidditch-certified head referees. The winner of the Referee of the Year Award is determined based upon numerous considerations, including but not limited to; the number of games officiated in both head referee and lead assistant referee positions; evaluations from coaches, other referees, and tournament directors; and any additional contributions to the sport. The Referee of the Year Award comes with a commemorative plaque and a travel reimbursement for US Quidditch Cup. This year, there is no travel reimbursement awarded due to the cancellation of US Quidditch Cup 13.
Members of USQ’s referee team are eligible to be selected for the award. However, any member who is up for discussion as a potential winner is required to recuse themselves from the conversation to avoid potential conflicts of interest. In addition, any referee team member who is selected as a Referee of the Month is not eligible for the US Quidditch Cup travel grant.
For questions about the Referee of the Month or the Referee of the Year program, please email email@example.com.