Ashley Howland

I used to be a volleyball referee and I got pretty high up. I had a national qualification and did even officiate some international matches. However I very nearly gave up because of a really bad experience. I was about 19 (maybe) and was the top referee for a D grade social semi final. One team was made up with some very large and vocal men. Their wives on the sidelines were equally vocal. One of the players began to abuse me because I wasn’t picking up the opposition for hand passing an over-arm serve. Just take a moment to think about that. I still for the life of me can not work out how you hand pass an overarm serve for the full distance of nine metres over a net that is 2.43m high??? Anyway he started swearing at me. So I gave him a card. He told me what he thought of that, so I sent him out of the centre. Meanwhile the wives on the sidelines started to abuse me. My younger second referee was attempting to hide behind the pole. His father, who was a solid man was standing at the door. He was smiling at me and just making sure I was okay. Once the game finished the man I sent out found me, he walked right up to me (towering over me). He told me he would find out where I lived and I was gone. Now a bit extreme for a social final. I lost it. I ran and hid in the toilets and locked the door. While I was hiding the center rang the police and all the guys from the A grade team made sure he left the building. The police eventually escorted him away from the centre and he got a life ban. Later I came out of the toilets and was told to go and ref the C grade final. I was shaking all over, but I stood there as the second ref and eventually I managed to regain some composure.
So what’s the point of this story. It taught me a few things. First of all I am worth more than that and do not deserve to be treated that badly by anyone. Now I will not stand it. Second I’m pretty tough, I didn’t give up. Lastly I can achieve whatever I want to, all I need to do is block out the negative people and focus on my strengths. I honestly believe I would not have been as strong a ref without this situation. I am sure it made me grow as an individual and now I use this strength to do all the things I do. Now I don’t want to have another death threat, but I believe I used this to shape myself. Until next time – have fun!

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