Ref Rainer

Teacher spends fall weekends refereeing Division II college football

Jeff Rainer shows off the national championship trophy after reffing the game in Dallas, Texas

photo courtesy of ESPN

Jeff Rainer shows off the national championship trophy after reffing the game in Dallas, Texas

 Jeffrey Rainer teaches special education and AP History Monday through Friday and spends weekends during fall as a college football referee. 

Rainer was selected as one of eight out of 1,000 eligible referees to partake in the Division II national championship in Dallas, Texas.

The selection process included film then an extensive try out, Rainer explained. “It is a process that the head of the Division II officiating goes out to the conference commissioners and gets names then watch their games throughout the season. Then make their recommendations and decide who they want on the crew.”

Rainer said he “went into the game as a field judge, basically a deep wing, looking for pass interference and punts.” 

His preparation included memorizing every reffing position and all of its roles. This proved to be a challenge with all of the other things going on in his life he said. At the time, Rainer was teaching two APUSH classes, and multiple other general history classes. He was also the athletic director for his kids’ school. 

When first hearing of this news of Rainer’s opportunity, Principal Brett McCann said he, “thought it was awesome…Knowing how excited he was that he would be doing the national championship is more than a hobby, so seeing him being recognized at the peak of his profession was awesome.”

While in Dallas, Rainer received many text messages and calls of support and congratulations from friends and family. 

“It was like an out-of-body experience after the game that took a couple of days to leave the high, and it was about Wednesday that I answered all of the phone calls and text messages that people sent,” he said.

Rainer’s refereeing career began in college when he decided to stop playing football, but wanted to keep involved with the sport. By the age of 20, he was a certified referee.

A football ref can be a controversial role that leads to heckling by angry players and fans. 

Rainer said he deals with this by being a “mentally tough person” and “never letting crap get to me.” 

This tough mentality allowed for Rainer to continue his job long-distance to ensure his students, especially his AP US History classes, did not fall behind. 

Jeff Rainer stands with the rest of the refereeing crew after the national championship game (photo courtesy of ESPN)

Reffing this game meant Rainer was gone from school for about two weeks. Yet he was able to  maintain contact and correspondence with his students. 

Liv Hall, a sophomore American History student of Rainer’s, recalled that in his absence, “He was very active on google classroom so we were able to get any questions we had answered.” 

Rainer said he made sure he would be able to be reached by every student in case they needed his help with anything. 

“I used google classroom and launchpad for the AP students…If they had questions I would live stream when I could.”

Sophomore Jack Pincoe, an APUSH student, said, “While Mr. Rainer was gone he prepared us well, giving us videos of him talking about the lessons, which were very helpful.” 

These videos allowed for Rainer’s students to stay on track without him being in the classroom. 

McCann noted how Rainer’s experience can serve as a positive life lesson for his students. “It’s definitely a positive for the students that, no matter where you are in life, you can still have that goal, but the fact that he’s still in it and learning and getting better, the students see it.”