Sometimes you don't know how a tournament is going to go until the last day.
This weekend I found myself in Kirkwood, Delaware for the Director's Cup. I will admit that my expectations were not that high; I still prepared myself mentally and physically to do my best. Boy did I need it. The quality of the games aside, there were many things that challenged the referees.
Weather. Most of us here in New Mexico are used to doing games when its hot outside. However, its rare that we're doing games when there is a heat advisory posted. The temperatures reached the upper 90's and with humidity in the upper 80's to say it was muggy was an understatement. Two referees dropped, one of whom had to be hospitalized. This stresses the importance of preparing by hydrating for a tournament. If you wait until the first day or even the night before you often are not ready.
Concentration. Sometimes its easy for us to be on a match that isn't the most challenging and lose focus. This leads to costly mistakes that not only impact the players (who are doing their best) but also the way you're rated. This applies to us here at home, too: when you are doing a match do your absolute best. While sometimes you may not feel like its the most important game of the day, the players deserve your best performance. Work hard and it will pay off.
Cooperation. I found myself in a few situations that felt awkward during the game, mainly because I had never worked with the other members of the crew before. If you are planning to take your game to the next level you have to be able to work well with others. In my case luckily there were no problems encountered but it reminded me how important it is to cover details in your pregame. When you're home and working with someone you do games with every week you can anticipate what they'll do. When its someone new (and this can happen at home, too) you need to talk it through before the match so you can avoid miscommunication.
Overall the tournament was a good experience. It was nice to "network" with other referees and see how they call things in Region I, II and III. I think everyone who attended learned a lot and certainly broadened their horizons. My helpful advice to you is when you go out of state to work a tournament always try to build relationships with other referees. Not only is it fun to interact with other people who share your passion but it also will open doors to future opportunities.
Finally, the adage that someone is always watching rings true. This weekend I saw that hard work pays off and often times in ways you wouldn't imagine at first. NEVER be discouraged and "give up" on a tournament. If you put in the effort you will be rewarded. Trust me.