Interview with Referee Brennan Lodge

Russ Thompson
Water Polo Planet

Brennam LodgeIntroduction:

What we have learned about the interview readership is that people are interested in hearing about your story and experiences on a personal level.   How did you start?  What is your favorite memory?  What do you do for a living?  Etc…  The questions below are meant to drive interest in your story.  Thanks for agreeing to the interview

1. Tell us a little about what you do vocationally.  Your job is extremely interesting to me and I know people will love reading about what you do.  The human interest side of these interviews is what people really like.  Feel free to be as detailed as you like. I think it is great to showcase that referees, in this sport, actually do something besides water polo officiating.

I work as a Cyber Security Analyst for the National Incident Response Team within the Federal Reserve Banking System. Given that I hold a security clearance for my role, I am restricted in divulging too much information about what I do. As my mom describes it to her friends, I am an Internet cop, protecting and serving our nation’s financial technological infrastructure. I’ll leave it at that

2. When did you start playing?  At what age?  Tell us about that experience.

I started playing water polo at the age of 13. Prior to being introduced to water polo, I had been swimming competitively since I was 7 and like most kids, I played all the other “land” sports. Since my first days in the pool, I’ve  been very lucky to have a tight group of friends that I grew up with. We all played the same sports, went to the same birthday parties and our parents were close. I was the undersized athlete of the bunch. When it came time to learn the game of water polo I found ways to excel by being scrappy and focusing on defense. My scrappiness and exceptional defense worked out for me two fold. One, I was able to earn a scholarship to play at the varsity level for Gannon University, and two it helped me excel as a referee.  Since I usually led my team in kick outs, I was able to parlay my kick out knowledge to refereeing.

3. When did you start refereeing?  Tell us about your experience and your past.

I’d like to think I started my referee career as a kid. My Dad has been refereeing basketball, women’s lacrosse and women’s field hockey for 25 plus years. If I wasn’t in the pool I was frequently in the stands watching my Dad ref. My Dad takes a lot of pride in his craft, whether it be his mechanics, game management or making the right call . Because of his dedication he’s been very successful in his refereeing career. He has reffed many playoff, district, and even state championship games at both the high school and collegiate level. Once I finished school, it was easy for me to transition to refereeing water polo and continue to be involved in the sport I love.

4. You are on the fast track in Water Polo refereeing and you are doing well.  Describe your experiences to us.  In particular, what behaviors or practices do you observe that helped you with your success as an official?  

I got my start by volunteering to ref scrimmages during the Greater Philadelphia team practices. When my scrimmage squad wasn’t playing I took my cap off and hung the whistle around my neck. My confidence grew each time I blew the whistle and before I knew it, Tom Tracy asked me to ref in the main line league at Villanova.  While I was doing more and more games, I got a lot of feed back from fellow referees, my Dad and other coaches. Regardless if it was positive or negative feedback, I took it to heart and used it to improve game by game.

5. In your opinion, what rule or rules make the game better?

The player safety rule comes to my mind first. There’s no argument that the game is physical and intense but there’s no room for over-aggressiveness in the game. The rule allows the referee to make automatic judgment calls if a player is struck and hit in an over-aggressive manner. Yes this rule is up to the interpretation of the referee but everyone will agree that this rule alone has set a tone and precedent to prevent players from injuring others.

6. Which rules make the game worse?

I can’t think of any one rule that makes the game worse, but I do think there are opportunities to improve the shallow-deep game. Even though the sport in its true essence is played in an all-deep pool, not all the games are played this way. There is only a small section within the rule book that outlines the shallow-deep game. But as many of you will agree, there are not only many games played in a pool with a shallow end, but there are vast differences in the style, intensity and speed at which the games are played. I don’t believe there is a sliver bullet that will improve how the shallow-deep game is played and interpreted but it should at least be discussed.

7. Coaches are often times full time employees.  Players are college students usually.  But the referee is a part time position with their day job being something that has nothing to do with water polo.   Describe, for our readers, the challenges and discipline necessary to be a top referee.

First and foremost, the passion and love for the game of water  polo. These attributes alone will help you overcome the challenges to be a top referee. Just as a top caliber player or coach, in order to excel you need to put in the time, effort, dedication and have fun with it.  As a referee we do make sacrifices between our day jobs, families, and friends to make it out to the games. However, I don’t see it as a job, I see refereeing as a way to stay involved in the sport I love and a way to help improve the game for everyone participating.

8. What is your favorite memory as a player?  A referee?

My favorite memory as a player was being named as a captain for both my high school and college teams. I take great pride that both my coaches and teammates respected me as a player and a leader. It was a honor to lead my teammates into the many battles within the pool.  As a referee, fortunately I get to continue to make memories. But my favorite memory so far was my first varsity game. It was a women’s invitational tournament at Bucknell.

9. What are your goals as a referee?  

 My ultimate goal is to referee at the championship level. I’ve been making good strides and I’m always continuing to seek feedback in improving all aspects of my referee skillset. I am also honored in the assignments that I have had and I the ability to learn and grow from the high caliber referees I get to work with.

Brennan Lodge