Interview with Referee Jamie Wolf

Russ Thompson
Water Polo Planet

Jamie WolfTell us a little about what you do vocationally.

Currently, I work at the Greenwich YMCA as a water polo coach with Greenwich Aquatics. We are often referred to as "the top water polo club outside of California".

Refereeing college and mens/womens level, don't work many age group games any more since I coach youth.

I am also a CT State certified firefighter, with 8 years of service with New Canaan, CT Currently, I am not affiliated with any department.

When did you start playing?

Started Playing water polo in the Fairfield County Swim League at age 10. I Played year round water polo with Wilton YMCA Water Polo (now defunct) at age 11.

Tell us about that experience. Your coaches.

A man named Brooks Ensor taught me water polo at Wilton YMCA. He was a genius in teaching the basic skills and ball awareness.

Later in my high school years, Wilton hired Damon Newman (current Villanova coach) and he was my coach age 16-18.

I went on to play water polo in college at Pepperdine University. I Played for Terry Schroeder, Jack Kocur, and Willow Rodriguez.

Did you play for Terry Lowe?

No I didn't grow up in Greenwich, CT, I lived in nearby New Canaan. CT. But he did coach me in the club season with Greenwich Youth Water Polo now Chelsea Piers Water Polo. So you could say he coached me but I never went to Greenwich High School.

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

I Started refereeing when I was 16 in our local summer league. Became USA Water polo certified in 2007 and NCAA certified in 2008.

I have many officials to thank for my success, Val Vasilchikov, Mark Koganov, Michael Goldenberg, Humberto Navarro, Irakli Sanadze, Josh Kratz, JR Perez, Brad Peavey, Hadi Farid, Scott Voltz, and Dennis Kinne. In USA Water polo I have officiated at 2012 TURBO CUP GIRLS GOLD MEDAL MATCH and 2012 ODP East/West 18/Under Boys Gold Medal Match.

In CWPA, I have officiated, 2013 MENS Northern Championship, 2014 Men's Southern Championship, 2014 CWPA Championship.

Last Women's season, I officiated MAAC Women's Championship, including championship game.

You're a top referee in CT . Tell us about Water Polo in your neck of the woods.

Locally in Greenwich, CT it is huge. At my club we practice and have weekly games year round. Other programs have also emerged such as Chelsea Piers Water Polo Club formally Greenwich Water polo club not to be confused with Greenwich Aquatics. Recently the Brunswick School in Greenwich won the New England Prep School title. Not to mention Greenwich High School, that has dominated East Coast high school water polo for 40 years.

Over the years, Greenwich area athletes have gone on to play at all levels of college water polo, from USC to Connecticut College.

Where I am from is a hot bed for water polo, I am very fortunate.

You have been selected to the Eastern Championships for the CWPA. Congratulations! It is nice accomplishment that not many referees get a chance to do. What are some of the most interesting things that happened in the CWPA this year? Tell us a few stories from a referees perspective.

Here is a funny story from the Championship this year. In the Championship game, Brown ended up with a two on the goalie.

The clever Princeton goalie just pulled down the cage, taking the penalty. Many referees thought misconduct could of been called or perhaps a yellow card. So I pose the question, If the goalie pulls the goal down when there is a better advantage for the offensive team versus a penalty. Is that considered misconduct? In my opinion it was very unsportsmanlike.

[Russ Thompson] It should have been a 22.5 violation with the Princeton Goalie out for the remainder of the game and the substitute goalie in the reentry area until 21.3 is satisfied. No goalie in the water for the penalty and the top goalie out for the game. Not so clever. What was actually called?

Correct Russ! That's why I have a lot of respect for you because your deep knowledge of the NCAA versus FINA rules. Unfortunately, only a penalty was called. When I saw it happen I thought Coach Mercado would protest, but the game went on with Brown holding on for the victory and CWPA Championship.

If you could change any rule, would you? If so what would it be and how would it make the game better?

Honestly, I like the way FINA rules are written. The presentation seems to work.

In NCAA, I would like to see less emphasis on two hands and more on controlling physicality in the whole game not just center.

Intense college games often are very physical with tons of exclusions. The environment created tends to lead to physical play.

What is your favorite memory as a player?

When scored my first MPSF conference goal versus USC 2006. One spot 6-5 wrap near side.

A referee?

Favorite memory as a referee was having the honor of officiating the 2014 MAAC Women's Championship game. It handed out an NCAA bid.

What are your goals as a referee?

My goals as a referee are simple. In USA Water Polo I want to be a FINA referee and in NCAA I want the play in game or tournament.

Jamie Wolf