From player to parent to referee
WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY OF REFFING?
I got into being a referee over 12 years ago not by choice, but as a necessity. I started out as a parent coach and was co-opted to being a referee in order to avoid my team being fined $250.00 by the league (WCCYSL), because it was mandated that each team provide two certified referees to help serve the league or be subjected to the fine.
Having undergone the U.S. Soccer Federation referee certification program, I realized that I actually enjoyed the art of refereeing. As my boys grew older, in order to continue to coach at the competitive level, I was required to go through the entry-level coaching licensing certification program, and became licensed. I lost interest in coaching, however, but continued as a referee and soccer dad.
In 2008, I was a District 4 Referee of the Year nominee, and upgraded to Grade 7 in 2010. I was awarded the Mustang Youth Soccer League (one of the largest youth soccer leagues in California) Referee of the Year 2014, and passed my in-field upgrade assessment to Grade 6 (State Referee) in 2016.
Over the years I have reffed a countless number of games, ranging from U6 to Men's Amateur/Semi-Professional games, as well as high school and College NCAA D2 games in between.
I have participated in numerous youth soccer tournaments both within Northern California as well as outside.
I was also among 10 referees selected to represent Cal North referee association at the ODP Regional Youth Soccer Tournament held in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2017.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESSED OUT PLAYERS, COACHES, PARENTS?
Over the years I have encountered players, coaches and parents at various levels of passionate expression and, as time goes by, you begin to develop and acquire different kinds of game management tools to add to your proverbial referee tool box.
This is possible through regular in-service trainings, number of games reffed, working with more experienced referees and picking up great game management skills from them, and through regular formal and informal in-field assessments.
Every game, set of players, coaches, and parents present different challenges, and experience will enable you to know which tool from within your tool box to pull out with respect to managing your game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has given an explicit guideline on how to deal with a coach behaving irresponsibly - the Ask, Tell and Dismiss guideline.
It is always important, and helps to constantly remind yourself as an official, that soccer is a game of passion. This knowledge helps me to manage a coach with an exaggerated passion to remain and continue to work with his team throughout the duration of the game, provided his actions do not bring the game into disrepute.
With respect to players, the aim and desire of every experienced official is to start each game with 22 players and end the game with 22 players. In order to achieve this I have to be very proactive, anticipate possible flash situations, adequately deal with flash points, identify problem players early and get into their ears and heads, while at the same time maintaining a zero-tolerance policy towards players whose actions put other players' safety in peril, or bring the game into disrepute.
Ultimately, my responsibility is to ensure that all players and officials leave the field safe and without unnecessary injuries primarily, and hope that both players and officials enjoyed a good game.
Regarding unruly parents, it is very easy. If I identify a parent whose actions or utterances become intolerable, I will simply stop the game, walk over to the coach of team whose parent is out of line, and request that he deal with it and, if he refuses, the game is over. More often than not, they will comply.
ANY FAVORITE STORIES?
This brings to mind a situation I encountered last year during a very competitive boys U19 State Cup Final game in Tracy, CA. I happened to be the center ref and a parent could just not shut up. He was not cheering for his team, which would have been the most welcome parental engagement; rather, he had an opinion on every call or no call within the first 15 minutes of a 90-minute game. I knew that if I did not address it, I would lose total control of the game - because such actions spread like wildfire - so I stopped the game momentarily, walked across to the coach and briefly explained the situation to him, after which he yelled across the field, 'PARENTS SHUT UP!', and that did the magic.
WERE YOU A SOCCER PLAYER YOURSELF? ANY OTHER SPORTS?
All I did growing up was play soccer. I believe I stuck with refereeing because of my great affinity for the game. It is the next best thing, second only to playing. The only other sport I played competitively was representing my college playing Field Hockey in National University Games. Other than these two, I play lawn tennis and volleyball recreationally if I ever have any free time.
WHEN YOU AREN'T WORKING OR REFFING WHAT ARE YOUR DAYS LIKE?
I totally love to spend time with my family and also love to watch my sons play.