Welcome back, sports fans!

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9

My new shoes!

Sorry for the long blog hiatus. Winter sucked.  So did fall, actually, and I just didn’t feel like writing.

Last fall, I reffed a lot of high school games and that was fun. Learned a lot, and then it was time to get recertified.

I took the test … and failed! OMG! I was so pissed. I was mad at myself for not studying, then I felt like a big idiot.

Then I learned that most of my class failed it. Whoever wrote the test made sure to make it as difficult as possible and ask questions that have nothing to do with real-life games. It’s like they designed the test to make sure you fail. I have no patience for that kind of nonsense.

I had to go back a couple weeks later and retake it, and I rocked it. So, all is well in Soccerland.

I ordered a new pair of reffing shoes from a local running store. I wanted black Asics, since my Asics are my best running shoes, but they said they were on back order until May! Yikes! So, they ordered me a pair of Brooks and I just need to go pick them up. I’ve found that black running shoes are best for reffing, especially if you have to ref several games per day. If they’re trail shoes, that’s better because they’ll have more traction. But cleats can be a nightmare, especially if the ground is hard. Plus, you have to make sure you can stay on your feet all day, and cleats aren’t made for that.

When I first started reffing, I wore my indoor soccer shoes for a few games, and my feet protested in the form of obnoxious and painful blisters. I bought some black Nike trail shoes from a shoe store chain on sale, and they were better, but they still don’t prevent blisters. My body seems to love blisters, and will blister at the slightest irritation. So, I should buy stock in Moleskin. Lord knows I’ve gone through it enough in the last year!

The first tournament starts March 5.  Can’t wait!

More soccer parent drama


Sorry to have taken such a long break. It’s been a crazy month. But I’ve had a few interesting games recently, so I have lots to write about.

Last week, I was on vacation from my day job and my night job, so I was able to ref a game or two a little farther from home. I agreed to do two high school games in a small town a bit far from home. The first game was a girls’ game, which was pretty uneventful. I was the AR on the parents’ side, and the other two refs were pretty good.

When it came time for the boys’ game, we thought for sure the home team was going to pound this rural high school from even farther away. We were so wrong.

The game started out rough. Thirty seconds into the game, the center ref had to warn a player on the home team for playing too aggressively. The whole game was rough, and I was surprised there weren’t more fouls called.

The visiting parents were near me, and they were pretty cool. There were only three of them, and they cheered their hearts out. They were laughing and having a good time joking with me occasionally. The home parents were another story.

Ten minutes before the end of the game, I made a fatal mistake. I called a foul in the penalty box. I thought it was blatant, and the center later told me he agreed with me. But the truth is, he should have called it and not me. But I was closer, so I figured it had to be called.

The center ran over and discussed it with me and agreed it was a blatant foul in the box, so there must be a penalty kick. The keeper tried to argue with me — “Ma’am, he slipped!” I didn’t want him to start arguing, so I said “Knock it off.” Someone said, “What was the call?” and someone else said, “Nothing … bitch.”

I didn’t hear it, but the center did, and he turned ar0und and gave him a red card. The kid was arguing with him, and he almost couldn’t get him off the field. They walked over to the coach and explained it to him, then he came back and explained it to me. “I know he was directing that to you,” he said. “Of course,” I said, “I’m the only one with a vagina.”

Well, the parents didn’t know what happened, so they thought the red card was for the foul. From one side of the stands (the home side) I heard, “You can’t give a red card without a yellow first!” And from the other side, “That’s not true, you idiot!”

After the game (away team won 4-2, including a goal from the penalty kick), as an away player was cheering for his team, a home parent walked to the side of the field and said, “Congratulations! You had the refs on your side!” The player said, “No we didn’t! We won fair and square!”

I said I really wanted to get out of there but I couldn’t because I couldn’t find my teenage son, who was hanging out during the game. I had to walk in front of the parents to get his stuff and I overheard one of the parents saying, “Yeah, SHE called the foul that got the red card.” Oh shit.

I found the guy who was running the clock, who walked around with me, and he asked about the call, I made sure to say somewhat loudly, “It wasn’t the foul that got the card, it was his mouth.”

God, I really hate teenage boys and soccer parents.

Soccer injury update


Dislocated patella

(not the same kid as referenced below).

On Saturday, I reffed a high school game that I mentioned in a previous post.

In the previous game, a player had injured himself so badly, an ambulance had to drive him off the field.

I was amazed to learn on Saturday that the same boy is walking with a knee brace now. He was at the game, but not dressed to play. The coach told me his knee cap had been dislocated (basically turned up on its side) and they popped it back into place in the emergency room.

I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t even walking with a limp! Kids recover so quickly, it’s ridiculous. The coach said he’s expected to be able to run in another week in a half.

I’m so happy that kid is OK. That game on Saturday was very eventful, so I’ll update you on that soon.

High school soccer


As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started reffing high school soccer, and it’s great. I love it, and it pays more, so I can’t complain about that.

So far, it’s been pretty interesting. I worked every day last week, with two games one night.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I had games at the same school — boys on Tuesday, then girls on Wednesday. This is a school that only pays for two refs for JV games, so I was only needed for the first game on Tuesday. After the game, which was pretty uneventful, I sat in the stands with a friend of mine who was watching her nephew play.

While we were watching and talking, one of the players on the visiting team went down. He hurt his knee so badly, the ambulance had to drive onto the field to get him out of there. We later heard his knee was turned all the way around to the side. Poor kid. He was apparently a big shot on his school’s cross country team, too.

Soccer is a violent game, and I’m a believer in calling very few fouls, but I hate to see anyone get hurt. First, because it hurts; but mostly because it keeps him or her from playing the sports that they love.

At the girls’ game the next day, it was pretty hot and muggy. Probably not super-hot, but the coaches wanted to take water breaks anyway. This is a school that has found itself in trouble for not being careful enough in the heat, so they’re extra-careful now. Fine with me. I like to be very hydrated.

At half-time in the first game, a girl got overheated and had to be rushed off the field to an ice-water bath. It made me worry because if it hadn’t been for half-time or us taking water breaks, she might have kept on playing and dropped on the field.

Heat stroke can kill you pretty fast, and I think a lot of kids don’t realize that until someone dies. Football is in the headlines the most because the players seem to be most susceptible (summer practice, helmets, etc.), but if you drink sodas all day then run around at top speed 0n a soccer field, you’re going to get yourself into trouble.

The girl was OK, and no ambulance was needed, but the coach joked with me afterward that she got an eyeful because they had to take her into the boys’ locker room and the football players were still in there.

Soccer season is back!


And boy, am I in the thick of it.

I have a game every night this week, and two tomorrow night. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I love every single game (almost), and the weather here has been awesome, so I can’t complain about that, either.

I’m getting ready to start a night job next week, so that will cut into my reffing time, but I need the money, so I had to do it.

So, my stories are forthcoming, I just have to have a minute to sit still and collect my thoughts.

My biggest challenge this season is high school. The games themselves are fine, it’s getting to them that is rough. I live in a city that has pockets of nasty traffic. So, when a game is at 5:30 p.m., I have to haul ass from work to make it to a game on time. And I haven’t been really successful so far. One time I even went to the wrong school, then had to book it across town during rush hour to make it. Luckily, the AD was friendly and joked with me about it, but I still felt awful.

That game was a girls varsity game, and it was very one-sided. I think the final score was 8-1. The visiting team scored a goal in the first minute. But the coolest part was when the home team scored its only goal. The ball was near the goal, but they just couldn’t get it in. They all ended up on the ground, some inside the goal and some out. I was actually worried someone would slap it in with her hands, but that didn’t happen. After a few second of struggling, the ball slowly rolled across the line and I threw my flag up and yelled, “It’s in!” and the girls all jumped up and screamed, “It’s in! It’s in!” I wanted so badly to celebrate with them. I love an underdog.

Tourney fun


Last weekend, I finally got to referee again. It was for a large recreational sports tournament put on in my state.  The tournament has everything from basketball to cornhole, so soccer is just one part of the overall tourney.

The event lasts two weekends, but I was unable to attend the first weekend because I was out of town. So, in the second weekend, I reffed junior varsity boys high school games.

I was exposed to all sorts of types. There were crazy coaches, crazy kids and even some awesome on both sides.

The first day was pretty normal. I had four games, all of them uneventful. Most of the refs there seemed to know each other, so I kind of just kept quiet while they chatted. They were all friendly, but I was too worn out to join the conversatons. One thing I didn’t like is that the information for the teams and parents was in the same tent that was meant for referees to rest. That meant that coaches and parents who were upset about games came over to us to complain. Usually, the referees are separate from the rest of the people in the tourney.

One parent came over to complain about a referee and he had to be told to go away. Apparently, the ref had sent off a coach (in high school games, you can give red and yellow cards to coaches and the bench.) So the parent started running his mouth at the tent and the refs had to tell him to go away. He said, “It’s a damn shame when a referee ruins a good game!” Just another one of those guys who has to have the last word.

My Sunday morning game was a semi-final, and both teams played hard. They were pretty evenly matched and both were very aggressive. The center ref handed out lots of yellow cards, and she almost had to send off a coach who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He even got snippy with me once. I hate guys like that. Seriously, it’s JV ball. Get over yourself! The funniest part is that earlier in the game, I heard one coach say to the assistant coach, “You know, these are pretty good referees.” That lasted only until we made a call against his team.

Later that day, the center ref and I both worked that team’s bronze medal game. Before the game, one of the kids asked who was centering. I said, “She is.” There was groaning. They knew she would card the hell out of them.

One coach, however, I loved. I wanted to take him home with me (not in a creepy way). I was on the coaches’ side of the field, and the coach of this one Catholic school was so nice. I’ll call him Good Coach. Before the game, I overheard the ref talking to the coaches. The coach for the other team said, “This is only my second time coaching a game ever.” I ran up and said, “You’re a new coach?” he said yes. I said, “I have some very important advice — never, ever disagree with the refs.” They all laughed and Good Coach said, “Even if you do, it doesn’t matter anyway because you won’t win!”

During the game, the Good Coach had nothing but nice things to say to his players. He cheered them on, said, “Great job!” to all of them and never once complained. He even had a player on the sidelines keeping time so he wouldn’t have to bother me for it. At one point, he was screaming something positive to his players, cheering for his team, and he turned to me and said, “Oh, sorry for all the yelling.” What a dream! I told him, “If it’s positive, you can yell all you want to.”

And his team was good. They won that game, and you could see how much these boys loved their coach. Other coaches could take a lesson from that guy. The guy whose second game it was didn’t bother us either. I think Good Coach’s niceness rubbed off on everyone.

The parents never gave me any trouble. They were laid back and  cool. Most of them even joked with me on the sidelines.

Today I finished my test to be a high school referee. I passed with an 85 percent. I was shocked at how different high school soccer is from USSF soccer, but I’ll blog more on that later.

The wasteland is almost over

It’s Wednesday, and I’m heading to the beach for a weekend with some girlfriends.

This weekend, I’m missing a big tournament about an hour from here, but it continues next weekend with high school games. I believe I’ll make it to that one.

Also, yesterday I sent off my paperwork to be a high school soccer referee in my state this fall. I’m kinda excited about that! Now all I have to do is pass an open-book test and I’m ready for the high-schoolers.

I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait for fall!