Father and son officiating duo: Unique dynamic making a mark on athletics

Officiating gives you the chance to leave your unique mark on the sport. We caught up with father, Mark Ellis, and son, Dominic Ellis, to discuss their unique officiating dynamic and how they are giving back to athletics together.

How did you get involved in officiating?

Mark and Dominic have both progressed to become level 4 officials, but their officiating journey began by simply wanting to give back their time to support athletes.

Mark said, “It started for me by being asked to help when Dominic was competing. After that, we were both asked if we'd become officials and we agreed. 

“We're both grateful for the people who've given their time in athletics to help Dominic and his sisters as both coaches and officials and we want to repay that time by us officiating and coaching athletes as well.”

Dominic added that this was also a key motivation for continuing to officiate,

“There’s a lot of people in the sport who’ve supported us both over the years and have ultimately helped us to get to where we are today. I’m keen to pay this forward and help to grow the number of officials in our local areas.”

How does the father/son dynamic work when you are officiating together?

Despite being qualified in different areas of officiating, the duo has opportunities at some competitions to collaborate and enjoy working closely to help events run smoothly and to enhance the athlete experience.

“As I'm on the field and Dominic is on the track, it's fairly rare for us to work together although we can often be at the same event. We have worked together in technical teams in the past. We've worked well together as we know what needs to be done and just get on with it.”

Do you have a favourite memory from officiating together?

The duo has experience of officiating at all levels, from local competitions to the global events.

“Our most recent experience of working together was a highlight when we were both volunteers in the competition delivery team for the World Athletics Indoor Champs in Glasgow, working in the hurdles team.”

Dominic describes his highlight of officiating on the domestic stage with his father,

“We worked our first English Outdoor Championships as level 4s together at Bedford in 2022, it was great to make our debuts together and share the experience.”

How does learning from each other help you develop as officials?

“We've both dabbled in each other’s disciplines,” as Mark explained. “I'm also a Level 1 Track Judge and Dominic is a Level 1 on the field, so we can exchange notes and learn from each other’s experiences. Whilst we live a few hundred miles apart, we do talk regularly about athletics and our experiences at meetings that we've been to in our different areas.”

What advice would you give to anyone starting out on their officiating journey?

Looking on his own journey, Mark expressed: “I think my best advice is, be open to listen, learn and gain experience when you first start as an official and try to get a broad range of meetings under your belt.

“It's also really helpful to find a mentor in your region who will help and encourage you if you'd like to work your way through the officiating levels. For me, Mick Frazer and James Colling were a great encouragement to progress as an official. Have an open mind and take everything in, write notes if that helps you too as they're always good to reflect on.”

Dominic agreed that connecting with more experienced officials is key and added,

“I’d tell anyone thinking of becoming an official to come and have a go and ask as many questions as they can. There’s so much that goes into officiating it can look quite daunting but there’s always an experienced official to lean on for advice or guidance.”

Have you been inspired by Mark and Dominic to make your mark in our sport? Or are you looking to level up your qualification?

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