During a football game, officials and referees run up and down the field, often more than the players. After all, unlike players, they’re on the field every minute of the game.
All that exercise—and a love of the game—is why Travis Barta serves as a high school and college official.
“It definitely helps me stay in shape,” he says. “It’s definitely a passion of mine. I love football.”
Barta is the principal at Apollo-Ridge Middle School and referees every weekend in the fall at local high school and college football games. He currently officiates football for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (Division 2); the Middle Atlantic Conferences (Division 3); and the New Jersey Athletic Conference (Division 3). While it keeps him busy, it also helps the former football player and coach stay involved in the game.
“I taught elementary school in Somerset and also coached. But when I moved to Latrobe, I couldn’t coach any more, so I took the officiating test,” he says.
Barta played football while a student at Somerset High School. He started refereeing at the high school level in 2005.
A few years later, Barta started coaching at the college level. It makes for a busy schedule being a principal and a football referee.
Each Friday, he leaves school by about 2:30 p.m. to arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the game.
“We have to inspect the field before the game along with a variety of other duties,” Barta says.
Depending on the location of the games, he usually leaves his home by
7 a.m. on Saturdays for officiating at the college level. Barta estimates the average college game lasts three hours and high school games last two-and-a-half hours.
It isn’t just weekends that find Barta on the move. To make sure he’s able to run up and down those football fields, Barta works out during the week.
“I do weight training two to three days a week and work out with a personal trainer. I also try to walk 5 miles a week on the track,” he says.
During the games, Barta estimates he runs 3 to 4 miles, depending on the officiating position.
There are a variety of reasons why Barta loves football. As a team sport, he feels that it helps students not only become and stay active, but also helps them build teamwork skills and relationships.
“It also helps them understand how to work with peers towards a common goal. And, of course, how to win and lose,” he says.