As it's been a while since we did any interviews, I thought it high time to catch up! As you can find out all about our committee members here (www.nutlax.com/committee.html), we decided to catch up with someone who's been helped by our sponsorship from Pizza Express Jesmond - Craig Stephens. This weekend, he's been busy covering England U19 vs Scotland U19, but we had a chat with him last week, click the button to see it!
IS: First off, congratulations on achieving your Level 2 Refereeing award, tell us about how that's come about?
CS: Thanks. Well I've been a Level 1 ref for a few years now and have been meaning to do my Level 2 but never got round to it, so when I saw the chance to do my Level 2 while reffing at the British National Championships.....it was too good an opportunity to miss. Reffing high level games and getting my next level, I'd have been daft not to do it.
IS: Tell us about refereeing at the British National Championships, that must be a high pressure experience?
CS: The BNCs is pretty intense, with so many games held over the 2 days it's mentally and physically demanding (certainly this year anyway). I certainly felt like there was more pressure than usual, with the crowds, the coaches and each game been important. Each game is full of passion and you feel like every Call and No Call is been scrutinised, especially when the coaches don't recognise you and think you aren't as experienced as others refs. I tried to follow the advice of the other refs and ref each game like any other.
IS: So it sounds like you enjoy refereeing, how did you get into it?
CS: Yeah, strangely I do enjoy reffing. I originally got qualified in my final year at university when the team was strong and we had to have a member of the club qualified to ref. No one really was interested and I thought it would look good on my CV, so signed up & passed my level 1, reffed a few games for nutlax and here I am reffing at a national level.
IS: How has being involved with NuTLax helped you to develop your refereeing?
CS: Reffing NuTLax has helped me massively. Been able to ref such a friendly team has helped me get comfortable and more confident in reffing. It's also allowed me to ref with more experienced refs (such as Buckers and Higg and the NEMLA Panel refs), who have all helped me develop and grow by mentoring me and giving me advice, as well as encouraging me to take up opportunities.
IS: What's your involvement with the local universities?
CS: I currently spend my Wednesdays afternoons, along with Ian and Higg, refereeing Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham Universities for BUCS fixtures. This often saves teams from needing to drop players & allows me to mentor the newly qualified refs from the 3 universities.
IS: What are your refereeing aspirations?
CS: I'd love to referee at a World Championships or be involved internationally at some point. If I can I'd like to be involved with Manchester 2018 either at the world's or reffing at the festival.
IS: We're all looking forward to the World Championships returning to Manchester in 2018. We'll finish up with some traditional quick-fire questions. What’s your weapon of choice at the minute?
CS: Warrior Helix with a Warrior alloy shaft or a Fox40 Pealess Whistle and flags
IS: Your best lacrosse memory?
CS: 1st man of the match award as a keeper
IS: Any nicknames we should be aware of?
IS: Pre-game meal or rituals?
CS: Listen to some music to get pumped up and focussed. Something that's fast and dramatic usually rock/metal or something from 5 Steps From Hell
IS: Favourite Stevie Wonder Song?
IS: Second favourite lacrosse related website (after nutlax.com obviously!)?
IS: Favourite 2 colours?
CS: Red and Black
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