Haduch back from flag-football championships

BY IAN MARTIN | JANUARY 21, 2010 7:30 AM

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A.J. Haduch went to the national championship, albeit unable to play. But he was perfectly fine with that.

Haduch was the only Iowa student selected to officiate at the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association national championships, one of two national flag-football tournaments nationwide.

The University of South Florida hosted the tournament from Jan. 3-5 in Tampa, Fla.

As one of the top referees, Haduch oversaw 11 games among the co-recreational, men’s, and women’s divisions of the tournament. He was also assigned to a men’s quarterfinal game featuring eventual champion North Carolina A&T, and he served as a back judge on a women’s semifinal game as well.

“Going to nationals is a big honor,” said UI intramural graduate assistant Dan Payne, a former All-American official in flag-football himself. “It’s a big accomplishment. It’s the best of the best.”

The national tournament not only showcases the top intramural flag-football squads in the country, but it is supposed to be a great showing of for referees. While a game at the UI may feature one veteran referee with four first-year callers, the national tournament is all about the experience.

Haduch, a senior, said the tournament is also a great platform for meeting people from other schools for potential jobs or graduate schools at which he can become an intramural assistant.

While he was the only man to go from the UI, dozens of officials oversaw all the games played at the tournament. And it was not just well-known football schools that sent the whistle-blowers.

While officials came from Ohio State and Michigan, others hailed from less prominent sports schools, such as Ohio University and Kennesaw State.

The teams at the national tournament also ranged from small to large, with such representatives as the little-known Augustana College in Illinois — the men’s team that won the Iowa City regional —to traditional football powers, including the University of Georgia.

Despite the disparity in size, though, Haduch said, all the teams were well-behaved and easy to ref, because they understand the parameters of the game.

“They know the rule book just as well as [the referees],” he said. “Teams will even have plays designed around the rules.”

When it comes to next year, Haduch will likely be a graduate assistant at a school other than Iowa. He said almost always the referees at nationals are undergraduates, so he will likely not be there again.

But in his officiating future, he will continue to referee high-school sports, and he may even try to get on the committee that evaluates the referees at the national tournament.

For now, his experience over winter break left him with nothing but positive things to say.

“It was fun going out there,” Haduch said. “[Our supervisors] just kept telling us to have fun, and it really was fun going out there with the other officials.”

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