Tag Archives: Officials Program

Ruth Jackson new USAWA Official

by Al Myers

Congrats to Ruth Jackson for becoming the latest new USAWA Official.  RJ was the first one to undergo the more strenuous requirements to become an official.   A couple of years ago the USAWA began requiring practical training after passing the written rules test in order to become a certified official. Ruth just completed her practical training at the USAWA Grip Championships/Dino Gym Record Day earlier this month.  She is now listed on the Official’s List, and will receive a 3 year officials card.

Scott Schmidt – New LEVEL 2 OFFICIAL

by Al Myers

Bob Geib lifting under the watch of 3 Level 2 USAWA Officials at the 2013 USAWA National Championships: Chad Ullom (left), Scott Schmidt (center), and Joe Ciavattone (right).

It’s always exciting news when a new USAWA certified official reaches LEVEL 2 officiating status.  Congratulations goes to Scott Schmidt for becoming the most recent Level 2 official.   Scott went about reaching Level 2 status in an unorthodox manner.  Let me explain.

The typical process of becoming a USAWA official involves taking the Rule Test first.  This consists of an open book exam of 100 questions covering the rules in the USAWA Rulebook.  There is no time limit for taking the test, and to pass it you must score over 90%.  After passing the Rules Test, an aspiring official must then perform the Practical Training Sessions, which consists of attending 3 meets and judging alongside a Level 2 official. After this has been completed successfully,  a person becomes a Level 1 Test Qualified Official.  The “other” category of Level 1 officials is the Level 1 Experience Qualified.  This was created to allow those very experienced USAWA officials to be “grandfathered in” as officials when the USAWA Officials Program began in 2009.  To be eligible to become a Level 1 Experience Qualified Official, one must have officiated in over 25 prior USAWA competitions and/or events.  Once a Level 1 Test Qualified official has officiated over 25 competitions they can apply for Level 2 status.

Scott has been an official in the USAWA for over 20 years.  He has officiated 100’s of events, and often serves as the head official in big competitions.  He spent 2 days sitting in the HEAD CHAIR at this past National Championships, and is regarded as one of the best officials in the USAWA by the lifters.  He was formally listed as a Level 1 Experience Official, and now since he has passed the USAWA Rules Test, he has “officially” joined the Level 2 group of elite USAWA officials.  Since Scott grandfathered in, he went about this entire process in reverse order by taking the rules test last!  I have hoped that all of the Level 1 Experience Qualified officials would take the rules test and become Level 2 officials to show support to the USAWA Officials Program.   It is next to impossible to become a Level 2 Experience Qualified official now as the initial grant of  Certified Official status without taking the rules test is not allowed anymore.

Again, Congrats to Scott!

Thom Van Vleck: NEW Level 2 Official

by Al Myers

Thom Van Vleck (right) is joined by fellow USAWA officials LaVerne Myers (left) and Denny Habecker (middle) at the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in York in 2011. As you can see, these three took their judging duties very serious as they are getting "down and dirty" to get a good view of the lifting!

Thom Van Vleck has just been promoted to the highest level of officiating status in the USAWA.  He is now a Level 2 Official, and joins a very short list of the most qualified officials within the USAWA.  Since the development of the USAWA Officials Program in 2009,  officials must NOW be certified to judge any USAWA competition/event.    I would like to review a bit of this as it pertains to USAWA Rulebook:

VII. Officials

10.   There will be two levels of classification for Certified USAWA officials.

  • Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and completed the practical training sessions.
  • Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.
  • Level 2 – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and has completed the practical training sessions, and has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.  

Thom has been officiating in the USAWA for close to 10 years and has officiated at some “BIG” meets.  He has officiated numerous championships events, including the 2006, 2009, and 2011 National Championships.  He also officiated at the 2012 IAWA World Championships.  He earned the Level 2 classification for officiating in over 25 events (as well as passing the USAWA Rules Test).  He is now awarded a LIFETIME OFFICIALS CARD in the USAWA and will have the ability to approve new officials that undergo the Practical Training Sessions.  Congrats Thom!!!

USAWA Officials Program

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom has just been promoted to a LEVEL 2 USAWA official. Chad has been one of the "top three" most active USAWA officials in IAWA competions over the past 5 years. In this picture, Chad (on left) is officiating at the 2012 Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland.

One thing that has happened over the past three years has been the development of an USAWA Officials Program.  The program started in mid-2009 with the initial guidelines. Since then the program has been improved with rule amendments requiring additional criteria.   I finally feel that we now have a TOP NOTCH officials program, and that is something to be proud of.  Before 2009 several programs had TRIED to be initiated, but failed.  Anyone at that time could be an official in an USAWA meet, without any qualifications.  The previous rulebooks had NO guidelines established for becoming an official, other than a couple vague lines such as these, “all officials must be approved by the USAWA”, and “the general secretary shall maintain a list of the national officials”.  That’s it.  There’s no point in having rules/laws if they’re ambiguous, and are not enforced.  Now if you want your lifts to count you MUST be officiated by a certified USAWA official that is listed on the Officials List.  If this does not happen – the lift/meet was not official, and all invalid results will not be reported in the meet results on the website as well as no records being established.  That’s “the bite” for not following the USAWA rules.

I’m VERY EXCITED to report a couple of “firsts” that have just occurred within the Officials Programs.  Ruth Jackson has just successfully passed the USAWA Rules Test and will become the first USAWA member to undergo the Practical Training Session in becoming an USAWA official.  This change was just passed at the past USAWA meeting as further development of the Officials Program.  She will have one year to accomplish this training.  The development of the Officials Program has been a gradual plan to allow for it’s success, with additional requirements being added yearly.  I have felt that the reason the previous official programs have failed were because of a couple factors, 1. requiring “too much” to begin with that NO ONE wanted to abide by, and 2. No penalties/ramifications for not participating in the program (afterall, before you could STILL be an official in all meets with the SAME privileges as someone certified ).  The IAWA(UK) has ALWAYS been WAY AHEAD of us with their officials program, and have required practical training for years before an IAWA(UK) official could be certified.  Now I feel our officials program is as good (if not better!) than theirs. 

The second “first” is that Chad Ullom has become the first member to apply and be granted  Level 2 certification.  Congrats Chad!  This requires an official to be qualified in TWO CATAGORIES , thus the name Level 2.  Level 2 officials are required to have passed the testing requirements, AND  the experience requirements.  Level 2 USAWA officials are considered the TOP TIER of USAWA Officials, and have Lifetime Certification. 

All the details of the USAWA Officials Program are outlined in the USAWA Rulebook and on this website under “Officials List and Rules Test”

 http://www.usawa.com/officials-2/

One or Three Officials?

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom officiating the 2011 IAWA World Championships sitting in the Head Judges chair. Would you trust this guy to make the only call in the 1-Official System?? He looks half asleep to me.

A very good question was brought up recently on our USAWA Facebook Page regarding the use of officials (BTW – if you have not joined our USAWA Facebook Page by now, make sure to join as it is a constant source of current information, along with numerous meet pictures).  The question involved how many officials are required to be used in competition.  The confusion on this matter arises because the USAWA allows the 1-Official System to be used, whereas the IAWA sanctioned competitions requires that all meets be officiated using three officials.  The upcoming World Postal Meet is an IAWA sanctioned event, so THREE OFFICIALS (or two as I’ll explain later) MUST be used to enter lifts in this postal meet.  This meet is different than our USAWA Postal Meets where they may be officiated using  just one official. 

First, let me review the USAWA Rules regarding the Official’s Systems that are in place:

VII. OFFICIALS

4.  Two systems are approved for officiating USAWA competitions or events.

  • One Official System – The competition or event will be officiated by only one certified official.  This system is recommended for small competitions or events, such as record days or postal competitions.
  • Three Official System – The competition or event will be officiated by three certified officials.  Approval of the lift requires a minimum of 2 officials deeming the lift good.  This system is recommended for large competitions or events, such as the National Championship.

Second, these are the IAWA Rules regarding the use of three officials:

V1.   OFFICIALS

  • All officials must be approved by their National Governing Body, or IAWA where there is no NGB
  • Three officials should be used for all competitions, and for exhibitions also where possible (though World Records can be established with only two officials present, so long as both pass the lift).

The USAWA membership voted and passed, allowing the 1-Official System to be in place, at the 2006 Annual Meeting.  This issue was brought forth to the membership by Bill Clark.  If I remember right, it seemed at the meeting that pretty much everyone in attendance was in agreement with the vote.  I do know now that not all of the members of the USAWA believe in the 1-Official System and don’t use it at all in their gym meets.   Art Montini has told me that himself and the Ambridge “Gang” will not use the 1-Official System in their meets EVER!  This issue was presented at the IAWA meeting as well that year in Scotland.  After the discussion in which it appeared to me that most everyone was against the 1-Official System, a motion was never made to introduce the 1-Official System.  Thus the IAWA still requires 3 officials, while in the USAWA the 1-Official System and the 3-Official System is allowed.   But even if the 3-Official System is used, a meet could be done with ONLY 2 officials and fall within the realms of the IAWA rules.  However, both officials must agree that it is a good lift (read IAWA above – the second line).   If just one official feels that it is a bad lift, then it is a no lift.  So in a sense, since you only need two “white lights” for a good lift in the 3-Official System, you are assuming the nonexistent third official has given you a red  in the imaginary chair!    How does this impact records?  First of all, any USAWA record can be established using either system.  For IAWA World Records, the 3-Official System must be used, including any USAWA meet.

Now for my opinion on this subject, which hasn’t changed from the day it was proposed and passed in the USAWA.  No one can argue that 3 officials are always better than 1 official.  Using 3 officials, and one official makes a bad call it doesn’t fail the lift if it should be good (or pass the lift when it should be failed).   Three officials spreads the decision over more individuals, and hopefully with that, a better result could be obtained.  That is why I will always support using the 3 official System in big competitions where there are qualified officials present to allow for it.  The problem arises in small gym meets (like postals and record days) where the entry numbers are so small that lifters outnumber officials!  For these meets to even happen, the 1-Official System HAS TO BE IN PLACE to allow for officiating.  Otherwise, it becomes impossible to even conduct small meets, or enter postal meets.  I am also familiar with events having one official (like strongman competitions and the Highland Games) so I know that one good official can do a good job and make the right call.  Why is there not three officials in those events?  The answer – they are not needed!  I feel the problem why the IAWA membership never accepted the 1-Official was tradition – weightlifters are very use to having three officials in the chairs and the thought of having  just one make the BIG DECISION was not something they wanted to accept.  I can’t imagine that the IAWA(UK) meets don’t have the same problem as us with properly trying to find 3 judges to judge small meets, like this World Postal Meet.  Maybe with time, IAWA will come “on board” with the 1-Official System and be the same as the USAWA on this.  Without a doubt,  requiring 3 officials in this World Postal Meet will hurt participation.

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