COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 1, 2016) – Athletes are not the only ones who dream about having the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games. Referees also see the Olympics as a crowning moment in their careers.
And that is exactly the case for Pati Rolf (Pewaukee, Wis.), a volleyball referee from the United States who was first nominated to be an FIVB international volleyball referee in 2003. On Wednesday, she received notice from the FIVB that she had been appointed to officiate at the 2016 Olympic Games representing the United States – returning to the Olympics after serving as a line judge at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
“Incredible, that’s how I felt,” Rolf said on learning the news of her appointment to the Olympic Games. “I just couldn’t believe it was real. The letter, the phone calls, the messages. My entire history I have worked to either play, coach or officiate at the international level, it’s a dream come true. I am so grateful really for all the incredible generosity of my friends, colleagues and family. I have had so much support.”
Rolf, who completed her FIVB referee course in July 1999 in Tunisia, has been a pioneer in the international realm as one of just a handful of females who have officiated the top level of the game on both the women’s and men’s side. During her FIVB course, she was the only female in the group of 25 referees. Rolf jumped right on the referee stand after the FIVB course to officiate a USA versus Brazil tour match at Menominee, Wis., in August 1999.
Since that first international match, Rolf’s officiating career has taken her all over the world with appointments to major events such as the 2014 FIVB Women’s World Championship, the 2015 FIVB Women’s World Cup, several years of the FIVB World Grand Prix, two Pan American Games (2007 and 2015), a handful of age-group FIVB World Championship events and several other major international competitions. Rolf also officiated at the recent 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in which the U.S. Women’s National Team earned its bid to the 2016 Olympic Games, though she was not allowed by rule to referee the Team USA matches.
Rolf is also active officiating volleyball matches in the United States. She is a USA Volleyball national official and referees at every level of volleyball in the United States from grade school to high school/club to the NCAA/adult matches. Rolf is a Professional Association of Volleyball Officials (PAVO) and NCAA national official who works both women’s and men’s volleyball matches in the Big XII, MIVA, Horizon, Missouri Valley, MCVL and other various collegiate conferences. Rolf is regularly selected to officiate NCAA and conference playoff matches.
Rolf, a member of the PAVO Officiating Hall of Fame, chairs the USA Volleyball Rules Commission and is the elected national referee representative to the Officials Commission. She enjoys mentoring others by presenting officiating clinics all over the country for both juniors and adults.
Aside from officiating, Rolf has 25 years of head coaching experience at the collegiate level with tenures at University of Minnesota Duluth, Marquette University and East Carolina University before retiring from collegiate coaching. She concluded her collegiate coaching career ranked in the top 100 in wins at the NCAA level. However, Rolf is still actively coaching coaches across the country as part of USA Volleyball’s Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP) cadre, along with serving as head coach for junior clubs in Wisconsin. She has coached and directed teams within USA Volleyball High Performance program over the last two years.
Rolf has been inducted into three Halls of Fame: Hopkins High School, North Dakota State University and University Minnesota Duluth. She has served on the boards of USA Volleyball, American Volleyball Coaches Association, PAVO (NAGWS), as president of the North Country Region of USA Volleyball and currently serves on the board of the Badger Region.
Rolf’s Top Seven Matches/Events as a Referee
- Line judging the Olympic Games in 1996 was the best. Met so many of the officials and they were all so kind and fun.
- For sure, the FIVB World Championship in Italy in 2014, that was amazing. Working with my colleagues and learning so much. Working the bronze match with Italy and Brazil in Italy.
- Also the 2015 FIVB World Cup last year in Japan. The country was amazing and so focused on volleyball.
- I must say working the World Military Games in Kingston, Ontario was a highlight. The teams, the players, my colleagues, they entire feel of the men and women getting to compete away from their military duties. I loved the teams and people.
- Working the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio. That is when the women finished, I could not get myself to go home and stayed another five days to watch the men play and my buddies ref.
- I totally loved working the 2013 NORCECA Men’s Championship event in Vancouver. It was the first men’s event and I miss doing the men.
- Finally, the atmosphere of Montreux VolleyMasters in Switzerland in 2011 for the super volley event. Such a great learning environment for me.