The Blaine Game: Mother and Her Sons Officiate Lacrosse Games Together

PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAINE FAMILY


This article appears in the September/October edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

Gordon Corsetti is a lacrosse official, author, public speaker and advocate for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. He speaks to the unique human ability to change our minds, and shows how to use tools to accomplish that change. Corsetti writes regularly at mentallyagile.com.

You may be right, Coach, but we’re both 40 yards away. I don’t think we can be certain, and my partner making the call was right next to the play.

Officials bent on improving constantly hunt for better ways to interact with coaches. We expect to learn from those more experienced. And while it’s rare that newer officials will craft exceptional responses, it’s even more so when that official happens to be your son.

Karen Blaine, a women’s lacrosse official since 2004 and current USA Lacrosse clinician from Kutztown, Pa., heard those words from her 22-year old son, Jonathan, and immediately thought, “I’m stealing those!”

A proud mom moment, for sure, as Blaine had spent the past few years tutoring Jonathan and her younger son, Jason, on the expectations for a confident and capable women’s game official. An even prouder mom moment came just a few months before at a USA Lacrosse Officials Player Academy.

“Your sons are such nice and courteous people,” relayed one of the raters as she told Blaine that Jonathan and Jason earned their Level 2 certifications.

Blaine beamed with delight. Not only had her sons demonstrated the skills to earn their certification, her fellow raters confirmed that her sons were good men off the field, too. With their Level 2 certifications, mom and sons could work tournaments together. When COVID-19 restrictions eased, that’s exactly what they did.

This summer, Blaine and her two sons traveled around Pennsylvania working games, sharing laughs and learning from one another. You might think Blaine, as the most experienced, would lead all the games as the head official. Instead, she gave her sons the reins and went along for the ride, excited to witness their approach to challenging situations.

Officiating lacrosse, always a way for Blaine to challenge herself, became a vehicle for teaching her sons how to be respectful men, while deepening the connection between them all. “How neat is it when your kids know you as a person, and not just as their parent?” she said.

The desire to reach for high standards was ingrained in Blaine by her parents, both of whom were in the Air Force, and drives her in her roles as an official, personal trainer, sales consultant and podcaster. With Mike Johnson, she cohosts the podcast “Layers of Lax,” available on multiple streaming platforms, where they dig deep into the many ways officials can exceed expectations.







MECHANICS 

  • Fast signals may be accurate, but they may also be hard to understand.

  • Take a breath, slow down and hold those signals for an extra few moments.

  • Be big; everyone needs to see the message.

RULES 

  • There’s a right way and a wrong way, and sometimes it’s gray.

  • No official can do right by the game without knowing the rules, and every official has an obligation to do right by the game.

  • Dig into your rule book every day. Question and confirm your knowledge.

GAME MANAGEMENT 

  • If the game is going in the right direction, we don’t always have to demonstrate the right call.

  • Consider a defender’s toe on the restraining line while the ball is in the attack’s critical scoring area. The official has the discretion to call offside, but is this offside impacting play? If called, the crew must give the attack the ball at the 12-meter and clear the lane to the goal. Quite an unfair response to a toe on the line.

  • Talk to the player: “Hey, watch your feet.” If you get attitude, remember that the strong game manager does not get pulled into a power play. Try responding: “You all are playing great. Please don’t give me a reason to interfere.”

  • The strong game manager sees the bigger game and does not put a whistle on inconsequential errors that disrupt the flow of the game and the pace of play.   

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