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USA Fencing and the Fencing Officials Commission Introduce Referee Performance Assessment Program

11/18/2014, 10:30am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing and the Fencing Officials Commission are pleased to announce that a Performance Assessment Program will be implemented for referees at national events beginning with the January North American Cup in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The pilot program will begin with assessments during the 2014-2015 season for foil referees.

Three highly rated referees have been selected as performance assessors and will work with the foil referees at each NAC or championship event during the season.  The team of assessors includes two-time Olympic referees Doug Findlay (Columbus, Ohio) and Derek Cotton (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Tasha Poissant (Happy Valley, Ore.), a Level 2 referee and 1998 Senior World Team member. 

The assessors, who will be responsible for providing both feedback and ratings for referees, were chosen by the Referee Program Improvement Team which included Fencing Officials Commission Vice Chairs Findlay, and Mary Frye (King of Prussia, Pa.) and three-time Olympian Felicia Zimmermann (Rochester, N.Y.)

”The assessors have a high degree of technical proficiency and long domestic and international experience,” said FOC Chair Sam Cheris (Denver, Colo.) “Because the foil referees will be getting feedback from the same small team throughout the season, they will be able to get a consistency of feedback not previously possible.”

At least one assessor will attend each national tournament to work with the event’s foil referees. The assessor will utilize CoachMePlus software to provide feedback to each reviewed referee. The software will allow the assessors not only to capture each referee’s performance, but the assessors can make notes and use the video to provide specific feedback on calls and actions.

“This new approach will provide assessors with data to quantify and track referee performance. Our goal is to give the cadre the opportunity to track their development and point them towards specific skills that need attention,” said Findlay who was named the 2012 Outstanding Foil Referee by the Federation Internationale d’Escrime. “This is a big step in the direction of making the development pathway and ratings assignments more transparent.”

In addition to being used for in-person referee development, video gathered by the assessors at national events will also be used as online referee education training tools.

“Both the Referee Program Improvement Team and the assessors have been working hard over the past few months to create this program that will benefit referees at all levels,” said USA Fencing Executive Director Kris Ekeren (Littleton, Colo.) “The team will be garnering feedback from the assessors and event referees over the course of the season which will be used to strengthen the program as we look to include epee and saber down the road.”


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