group of boys playing basketball referee on sideline
Will Kelker, 14, referees a middle school basketball game in Evergreen on Nov. 7. Credit: Chris Koeberl

Kids as young as 13 can become certified referees for real middle and high school games with the right training.

The course offered through Evergreen Sports Officials is taught by Clear Creek Middle and High School Coach Phil Mauro. 

two referees stand beside basketball coach in blue shirt on court
Frank Mauro (left) Phil Mauro (center) Will Kelker (right) working a middle school basketball game in Clear Creek County on Nov. 7. Credit: Chris Koeberl

The idea, according to Mauro, is to get kids involved in sports by teaching the rules to referees, plus there’s a need for referees now.

“There is a high need for new officials, especially up here in the mountain area,” Mauro said.

Mauro explained that often in games there is one referee per game when there should be two or three. 

New referees would start working with younger teams, then work their way up.

At a recent basketball tournament at the middle and high school in Evergreen, 14-year-old Will Kelker and 13-year-old Frank Mauro were dressed in black and white referee uniforms with whistles dangling from their necks.

“It’s really cool and it’s a great way to make money and help out the kids teach them how to play basketball,” Kelker said.

Successful graduates of the course would be recognized and certified referees through the Colorado High School Activities Association, according to Mauro.

Students typically meet Thursday nights for about an hour at Evergreen High School as students learn rules, mechanics and professionalism, according to the curriculum.

The cost is $175 dollars for the six-week course, but students in the Clear Creek School District receive a full scholarship, funded, in part, through grants from the Explorer Fund and an Innovation Grant, according to Mauro.

“Evergreen Sports Officials’ mission is to provide the youth and high school sports community with certified and well-trained officials,” Mauro added.

At the recent basketball game in Evergreen, the two young referees commanded respect with their calls but Kelker said it’s not always easy. 

boys playing basketball white and black uniforms
Frank Mauro, 13, referees a middle school basketball game in Clear Creek County Nov. 7. Credit: Chris Koeberl

“It’s hard, I mean the parents and coaches always have their own opinion,” Kelker said. “You just have to call what you call. You can’t let other people tell you what to think.”

Anyone interested can check out Evergreen Sports Officials for information.

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