OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF)–In basketball, officials play an extremely crucial role in the game.

They uphold rules, make calls, and regulate the entirety of four quarter.   

Without them, the game can’t go on.

We need everybody we can get.

Doug Costain, OVAC Basketball Commissioner

What’s a game without officials?  

***Interested in becoming an OVAC referee?***

Dressed in black and white, referees are a critical part of the game.  

As we start basketball season, our local OVAC officials are already seeing the holes in their lineup.  

A lot goes into preparing for the season, the last thing coaches should have to worry about is if they will have officials to call their games. 

Doug Costain is the OVAC basketball commissioner, and he says the conference is in desperate search of candidates.  

The OVAC has done a great job in putting together a staff to try to go out and recruit young folks at our schools and within the conference but if you look nationally, it’s a big big problem.

 Doug Costain, OVAC Basketball Commissioner  

Over the last few years, the number of referees has declined and finding new recruits to take on the challenge isn’t easy.  

 At the end of the day what we are looking to do is provide our student athletes with the best experience they can have every night when they walk out on the floor.  

Gary Zielinski says he started refereeing when he was eleven years old and never imagined he’d make a career calling NBA games.  

Now he’s dedicated to growing the next wave of young officials and preparing them to one day take his place.  

I found throughout my years of doing it, if you train and support refers, they will come back, and they’ll actually thrive in the business. Now what’s happening with the shortage of referees, there is so much demand for reefers and such a shortage of referees, we don’t have time to train the young reefers.

Gary Zielinski, Youth and amateur officiating development director for the NBA 

Just like players, referees have passion and love for the game.  

Maybe it’s time to lace up your shoes and get back on the court.