Robert Smith, Waterloo, Iowa, and Pati Rolf, Pewaukee, Wis., are the latest individuals elected to join the NASO board of directors. They will replace outgoing board members Dave Dodge and Todd Stordahl, whose terms expired in 2020. In addition to adding new members, the board elected Anita Ortega as chair and Bob Delaney as vice chair. Bill Carollo (treasurer), Ron Foxcroft (special advisor) and Bill Topp (secretary) were also re-elected.
Both Smith and Rolf are excited about being selected to serve on the board, a board in which they have worked with in the past. Smith, a native of Dallas, who played football at the University of Iowa and is in his 19th year as a Big Ten football official, is the executive director of the Educational Opportunity Programs & Special Community Services with the University of Northern Iowa.
“These are opportunities that you don’t see coming,” Smith said. “Sometimes in life you get good curveballs to hit. I’m excited to have been chosen to work on the board and I’m going to do my best to be a contributing member.”
Smith said he sees how important it is at this moment for the officiating community as we go through the pandemic. He believes now is a good time for people to slow down, take a breath and focus on continuing education for officials. He also believes this is a good time for NASO to do outreach.
Smith said the first meeting he will spend listening and learning how the board works and figuring out the best way he can fit in and move the organization forward to accomplish the mission it has set out to accomplish. He believes his total of 29 years of experience as an official will bode well for his time on the board.
“It’s a lot like working on a football crew,” he said. “It’s the crew that comes together and helps to support each other for the good of the mission.”
Rolf, who is the head of USA Volleyball’s Officials Development department and an accomplished NCAA and Olympic volleyball official, agrees with that assessment. She said when she found out she had been elected to serve on the board, she was speechless.
“I am serious, I felt like those people who have just won the Academy Award,” Rolf said. “I was not expecting this. Sports officiating is such a unique vocation. It is such a family atmosphere. Unless you referee, you do not really get it. But to be able to expand this network, while working on the board and help to create the next generation of officials through NASO recruiting efforts, is the thing I’m looking forward to the most while working on the board.”
Rolf said from attending prior NASO events, she has learned that her sport of volleyball does not have a unique set of problems. She said concerns about recruiting and retention are in all sports; however, the approach to addressing the situation varies. She hopes to use the board as a listening opportunity as well in which she can take what she has learned back to the volleyball world.
Rolf, who meets with over 40 regional directors as part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board for USAV, believes she will be able to bring ideas back to that group as well. She believes that a big part of solving the problems with recruitment involves going into demographic areas that have traditionally not participated in officiating.
Board members are elected for a two-year term and can serve up to two terms consecutively.
The National Association of Sports Officials is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. More than 25,000 sports officials from around the world belong to NASO, enjoying member benefits and supporting an organization that advocates for sports officials and that helps them maintain the highest level of officiating skills.