The Herndon Optimist NFL Flag Football League (HONFL) has a unique youth referee program that trains and employs referees (ages 14 - 18) to officiate games. Two referees are typically assigned for each game. A third referee may be assigned to a game at the league's discretion.
HONFL referees are:
- Trained by experienced adults
- Provided with all necessary equipment
- Paid according to their level of experience. On the field pay rates range from $20 per game for beginning referees to $30 per game for our most experienced referees.
For many kids, the HONFL referee program is their first real job. As with any job, there are many important responsibilities our referees must assume. These include:
- Showing up on time, taking charge of a game, and creating an environment for kids to have fun playing flag football.
- Learning, interpreting, and enforcing the rules of the game.
- Making quick, accurate decisions and standing by those decisions.
- Keeping a schedule and record of games worked
- Communicating any concerns, questions, and problems to the HONFL Director of Officials in a timely manner.
Candidates for the HONFL Youth Referee Program must be willing and able to meet the following requirements:
Age: Referees must be at least 14 years old as of April 1, or currently in the 8th grade.
Attend Pre-Season Training. Referees must attend pre-season training.
Attend Midseason Training. The dates for these sessions will be determined during the season.
Be Available to Umpire. Umpires must be ready and willing to umpire at least once per week during the season.
File Game Reports. Umpires must file game reports within 2 days of an assignment.
Officiating any sport is a challenge. It requires confidence in your ability to make good judgments and instant recall of rules. In baseball the pressure is always on the umpire and the quality of a game depends greatly on the quality of umpiring. To be a good umpire you must learn to do your job with authority and always display grace under pressure. The best umpires love and respect the game of baseball and enjoy being a part of every game they umpire. The money they earn is only a secondary benefit.
As a youth umpire you will gain leadership experience that will help you later in life. But it is a job not suited for everyone. Decisions must be made on every pitch and every play. You must concentrate fully on the game and anticipate what you need to do next. Mistakes are part of the job but a good umpire acknowledges them, learns from them, and moves on without ever losing confidence. You must always remember you are there for the players. They look up to you and depend on you to make sure their game is played safely and fairly. Umpiring is challenging mentally and physically to be sure, but it is also a fun job especially if you like seeing younger kids play, succeed, and have fun.
If you choose to try umpiring, HOYB officials will work with you to develop your skills. But you alone are responsible for learning the rules of the game and applying those rules and skills in game situations. You will be observed, evaluated, and offered pointers and things to work on. You will be expected to constantly learn and improve. Over time successful umpires are rewarded with promotions in rank, increased pay, and opportunities to umpire in higher leagues. Again, officiating is not for everybody but if your personality and nature are suited for the challenge, umpiring in the HOYB Leagues can be a very rewarding experience.
If you have any questions concerning the HOYB Youth Umpire Program, please contact HOYB Umpire Coordinator at hoybumps
Umpire Game Report
You must complete the online after each game. You will not get paid for the game unless you complete a game report. You can find this report on the left side of the main page of the website
Umpire Availability Request Form
Use the online Umpire Availablility form to report your availability to umpire games. You can find this form on the left side of the main page of the website.
Anyone wishing to umpire this Spring season, please fill out the online volunteer form at the registration button located on the main page.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am only available to umpire certain days of the week. Is the umpire scheduling flexible?
Yes. Many of our umpires play on teams themselves or have other activities on certain days of the week. The HOYB Umpire Coordinator depends on you to inform him when you are available to umpire. You are expected to post your availability for any particular week at least 7 days in advance of that week using the “Umpire Availability Form” on this website.
Do I wear an umpire uniform?
Yes. Umpires will be issued an umpire shirt, shorts, and cap. They must be worn at all games you umpire. In cold weather, a black or dark blue windbreaker or sweatshirt can be worn under the umpire shirt. An umpire may also wear his/her own dark blue or black long pants (not sweats). All pants must be worn with a belt (so you can put on the ball bag). You should wear dark shoes. Umpires who regularly work multiple games per week will be issued a second shirt. Your umpire rank is designated on the back of your umpire cap using gold bars.
How are umpires ranked?
There are 2 levels of umpire rank in the HOYB system. Level 1 is for beginning umpires with no experience and one year of experience. They work machine pitch games and Farm games. Level 2 umpires work Majors 65, and with the most experienced umpires working Majors 70. All umpire levels can work as scoreboard operators. Advancement through the ranks is accomplished based on game experience and a record of positive evaluations.
What kind of equipment do I wear?
Plate umpires will be wearing hockey-style helmets that protect the top and back of the head. Balloon-style chest protectors and small, medium, and large shin guards are available at all the fields. Level 3 umpires have the option of wearing chest protectors designed to wear under the shirt. All umpire gear is stored in large “Umpire Use Only” equipment bags in the field boxes.
Will I get yelled at?
HOYB team managers will never treat you like you sometimes see umpires get treated on TV. Every HOYB player and manager signs a code of ethics that includes an agreement to treat officials with respect. The official HOYB rules of play require managers to act respectfully toward the umpires. Further they are responsible for making sure their players, coaches, and fans act in the same manner. If these rules are violated the HOYB Board can and will suspend a player, coach, or fan from HOYB games.
What is the pay rate?
Umpires are assigned games with a partner. All Level 1 umps receive $20 per game and switch between the plate and field positions every two innings. Umpire partners do not switch positions at the higher leagues. Level 2 Umpires will receive $35 a game for field and Plate. Scoreboard operators receive a flat $15 per game.
When do I get paid?
One check that covers all the games you umpire during the season will be issued to you by the Herndon Optimists Club based on information compiled by the HOYB umpire coordinator. This is why sending a game report after every game you umpire is very important. It creates a record of your work for the umpire coordinator. After the season ends the coordinator will send you a summary of his records concerning all the games you umpired. You will review it and make any needed corrections. Payment information is then forwarded to the Optimist Club by the end of July.