Friday Night Official
by Chelsea Cliff
October 19, 2017
Adam Hartman on the field, geared up for the game.
As another fall season settles in across the upper Midwest, field lights switch on, lines are drawn, and the players take to football fields at high schools across Minnesota. Friday night football games are an important part of high school athletics for many communities and Sterling State Bank’s own Adam Hartman is excited to be part of that tradition. Adam is a Credit Operations Officer at Sterling State Bank and has been a football official in Minnesota for 7 years, most recently with the Rochester Area Officials Association (RAOA). To celebrate high school football season, we want to share a brief profile of Adam and his officiating journey!
It all began when Adam decided to seek a second job – one that he thought would be enjoyable. A lifelong football fan, he decided to try his hand at officiating games! For the first 3 years, he officiated non-varsity games, including b-squad games.
Asked to sum up what it takes to be a football official, Adam says “patience, thick-skin, - and knowledge of the rules, of course!” Being a high school official is certainly rewarding, but it can also be challenging at times.
During his first varsity game, Adam recalls accidentally keeping the play clock running when it should have stopped following a first down play. “This was a crucial error because it was in the last 10 seconds of the game with the losing team at the 40-yard line needing a touchdown to win. We corrected the error and put time back on the clock, but since the clock stopped for a first down play (and not an out of bounds play) the clock restarts at the refs’ whistle and not when the ball is snapped. Unfortunately, the scoreboard clock operator didn’t understand the situation and so he never started the scoreboard clock on the refs’ whistle. Because of this, we had to countdown the clock manually and time expired before the losing team had a chance to snap the ball again. They were understandably upset since the scoreboard still showed six seconds left to play, but by rule the game was over. We had to run off the field, and as we were running off we were getting hot dogs and popcorn thrown at us!”
“At the end of the day, it often comes down to a split-second decision and you do your best making the call,” Adam explains of this incident. Overall, he enjoys being a part of the action and participating in the game. Growing up in Willmar, MN, Adam participated in a wide range of high school athletics, including football, basketball, wrestling, and baseball.
“I have learned a lot more as an official than just as a player,” he says with a smile. There are always calls in a game that not everyone agrees on, but high school officials work hard to provide fair and accurate calls. Huddle film is reviewed, officiating teams don’t work in their hometowns to help prevent biased calls, and there are weekly study sessions throughout the season.
The amount of time and effort that goes into being an official is much more than just going to a game here and there. At the beginning of each season each official must take a test from the Minnesota State High School League in order to be certified to work Varsity games. There is also a requirement to attend a state clinic once every 3 years and many officials attend other clinics in the offseason annually. Plus, there is study time scheduled for weekly quizzes during the officiating season, which starts in late August and runs through play-off games in October. From there, they must show up to games early and travel on weeknights, usually after their primary job’s workday is over.
When asked if he could ever see himself as a referee or official at the collegiate or NFL level, Adam grins and says that, “it would be fun, but is unlikely given the significant time commitment involved!” Speaking of Pro Football, his favorite team is of course – the Vikings.
Sterling State Bank is committed to the communities we serve and we’re proud of the ways that all our employees connect with local community groups and organizations across all of our markets. We’re pleased to support employees like Adam who take the time to be involved outside of the Bank in all sorts of interesting and unusual ways!