“When both teams have enjoyed the match win or lose and basically you’ve been invisible, you know that you’ve done a good job.”

Mark Eckart’s volleyball life started as a player in elementary school in northern Ontario in grade six. At age 16 his family moved to the southern Ontario city of Windsor where he continued to play for his high school team, followed by intramural volleyball at his university. When he graduated university with an engineering degree he moved to Calgary, Alberta and lived there for almost 20 years, continuing to play in men’s and coed volleyball leagues.

In 2000, Eckart moved back to Windsor, got a teaching degree and began teaching physics and math. His volleyball coaching career started soon after at the boys junior level.

“I coached the junior boys for five or six years and became friends with many of the officials in the Windsor area. That is when I thought that I might enjoy officiating and took the initial qualification course in winter of 2006,” says Eckart.

Eckart continued coaching for a couple of years, and within five years he moved up to the third level or regional level of officiating, which is equivalent to the US junior national level. He then officiated Canadian University and college volleyball, and continued to referee boys and girls club tournaments along with high school and some elementary school matches.

“Officiating is very similar to the enjoyment of being a teacher, you meet and work with a lot of great people and you have many opportunities to affect the lives of the younger generation in a positive way,” states Eckart.

Last year Mark was extensively involved with the JVA, officiating in a number of tournaments, earning points in the JVA Officials Reward Program. After officiating eight qualifying JVA events, Mark was one of only two Officials to reach the Tier 3 Level in the Program, with 800 points, earning him a $300 bonus plus JVA swag.

“The JVA has many great people working for them and it made the tournaments run smoothly and enjoyable to be part of! The JVA association and the rewards program are both a benefit and incentive to work their tournaments. The tournaments are well organized and somewhat merit based, if you do a good job you get higher level games,” adds Eckart.

Eckart exudes his love and passion for the sport volleyball onto the younger generation. He still plays twice a week in a senior league when he’s not traveling around as an Official. He takes pride in what he does, and feels that is the key to being a successful Official.

“A referee with a positive attitude that shows that they’re enjoying what they do, takes pride in providing a high level of professionalism goes a long way in influencing both the players and coaches. When both teams have enjoyed the match win or lose and basically you’ve been invisible, you know that you’ve done a good job.”

He has a library of unforgettable moments in the sport of volleyball, thanks to the opportunity to work in and see so many beautiful cities and meet so many great people.

“There is nothing more exciting than doing a top level match with the fans packed around the court and cheering on their teams. With the incentive program, I think that the officiating world is getting to be on the older side and anything that might get the younger generation interested in getting involved is a definite plus,” shares Eckart.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a volleyball Official and joining the JVA Officials Reward Program click HERE. There is a need for up and coming youthful referees to keep the sport healthy for years to come.

This article was written by JVA Director of Marketing and Education, Briana Schunzel, from an interview with JVA Official Mark Eckart.