Students connect to sports through refereeing games

Cassidy Washburn, Staff Writer

The lively soccer game comes to a halt once again. Sophomore Kate Staff bends down to tie the cleat of an eight-year-old girl. The girl smiles and skips joyfully back towards her friends and the game resumes once more. Being a high school referee is a unique job, as students get paid to connect with the sport they love and the children who play it.

Staff no longer plays soccer, but she is able to use her past soccer experience to referee and teach the younger generations.

“I love working with kids and I think that they’re so cute, so I wanted to teach them how to play soccer,” Staff said.

Staff got the position after undergoing a casual interview process where she was asked a few questions about herself and her experience with the sport.  After the interview, depending on what age group, a referee has to thumb through the rule book to ensure they are ready before games.

“For second graders it’s like three rules and that’s it. It’s not very extensive. There wasn’t too much instruction, you are just expected for figure it out,” Staff said.

According to Staff, refereeing students can be tough at times, however it is also very rewarding.

“They are super cute. I’ve had to tie a lot of shoes. After the games some of them would give me hugs and stuff like that,” Staff said.

Junior Dafna Williams has been a youth hockey referee for three years and enjoys being involved in the hockey culture.

“Since I don’t play hockey anymore, it’s a really fun way for me to still skate and be around the environment,” Williams said. “Also, sometimes I work with really young kids and just watching people who don’t know how to skate is really adorable, so that brings me a lot of joy.”

Sophomore Maria Mercado is currently a recreational basketball referee. Similar to Williams, Mercado enjoys combining her love of sports and working with children when refereeing.

“I started refereeing because I like kids and I like basketball, so I put them together and I saw that there was an opportunity for refereeing,” Mercado said.

However, according to Williams, refereeing is not all fun, as it takes up valuable time and can include intense training.

“For level one, which is what I am, you basically register online and then you get a rulebook, a manual and you take an open book test at home online, which is 50 questions,” Williams said. “Then, there is an all day seminar with an hour on the ice and there are some online modules that you also have to complete.”

Students have to figure out ways to squeeze refereeing into their schedules.

“It happens at the same time as basketball season. You have practices on Saturdays. So, I work around my basketball practice,” Mercado said. “If I have practice in the morning, I’ll referee in the afternoon and if I have practice in the afternoon, then I’ll referee in the morning.”

Still, refereeing is an enjoyable way for students to stay connected with their sport and to reminisce on their days as young athletes.

“I like seeing young kids start playing basketball and learn how to play,” Mercado said. “It brings back memories of when I played.”