Volume 2, Issue 7
July 1, 2021
Special Points of interest
Welcome to the July issue of the MRC newsletter. We had a very busy spring season but it is finally slowing down a little bit.
Michigan referees were busy at various events. As you will see below, eight referees were in Massachusetts for a tournament during the Memorial Day weekend. Dozens of referees were invited to Saginaw for the State Cup Final weekend. A group of referees were in Ohio for the USYS Presidents Cup and another group was in Missouri for the USYS Regionals. Many tournaments happened within the state, too. Below, you will see some good news from the Presidents Cup.
Our referee coaches and mentors were also busy. Over 100 formal assessments (upgrade and maintenance) were completed in June, alone. Many performance observation forms were also submitted to help grassroots referees.
July marks the first month of the U.S. Soccer registration year. July 1 will be a new year. Any referee who is certified after July 1 will have a 2022 badge. They will not have to recertify this upcoming winter. This may be a good incentive for some people to decide to officiate, because their registration will be good for a long time. As far as more details on brand new referee classes and recertification classes go, we will announce them as we hear from U.S. Soccer.
As always, our July newsletter is full of exciting stories and information. We are featuring Dr. Francisco Villarruel, aka Chico, as the former MRC member of the month. He was the State Youth Referee Administrator. Our regular content includes Referees of the Month and Who’s Who. We are featuring Matt Crouch as the Referee of the Month, and Amanda Field for Who’s Who. Ken Wikle has an article about handling the benches and spectators.
Inside this issue
- Villarruel Interview
- A New Mentor Development Cohort
- Women’s Academy in Massachusetts
- New Instructional Tool
- Say Hello to Callous!
- State Cup Weekends
- Referee of the Month: Matt Crouch
- 2021 John Bieniewicz Winners
- Regional Referee Fitness Test
- USYS Presidents Cup
- Ref Tan Lines
- What is Your Call?
- Who’s Who: Amanda Field
- Tips on Handling Coach and Spectator Misconduct
Michigan Referee Committee: Francisco Villarruel
For the July newsletter, we also had an opportunity to interview Francisco Villarruel, a former State Youth Referee Administrator.
When and how did you become the SYRA of Michigan?
I was appointed as SYRA after Pete Morrissey was elected to the position of the secretary for MSPSP. I served as SYRA between 2007 and 2016 until I was appointed to serve US Youth Soccer Midwest Region Referee Administrator.
How were you involved in Michigan soccer before you became the SYRA?
There are multiple ways that interested referees can assume leadership and support the programs of the Michigan Referee Committee. After officiating for a few years in the Lansing area, I became more involved with the Greater Lansing Area Referee Association (GLASRA). For several years, Michigan State University hosted the State Referee Committee – and this is how I made the transition to supporting and being offered opportunities to be involved with the MRC. Given that I am a faculty member at Michigan State, I would help with logistics and anything that was needed to support the event. I also became involved in assignments – first local high school then to State Cup and MSPSP.
Prior to being appointed SYRA, I was asked to support Michigan referees who were selected to attend the USYS Midwest Region Championships as a mentor. I have also been involved with the instructional and assessment programs for over a decade.
What did you enjoy the most about being the SYRA?
Without a doubt, it was the opportunity to work with young referees who wanted to develop and enhance their skills in the officiating world. Because of my involvement with the Midwest Region Championships and the National League Conference (formally the Midwest Regional League), opportunities to take referees to various events (e.g., ODP Camp, Warrior Classic, MRL/NLC hosted weekends, Midwest Region Championships, Super Y Playoff, and many others) always created an opportunity where there was an environment where referees could develop skills, but also learning about the person was possible. The accomplishments of many of these young people – both on and off the field – is something that is impressive. They learned to balance their passion for officiating while establishing professional identities.
Equally enjoyable was the identification of the Michigan Young Referee of the Year, and facilitating a portfolio that resulted in multiple Regional and National Young Referee of the Year award winners. The only disappointment in this area is there are many deserving young referees that deserve recognition for their commitment to excellence.
Do you still remain active in refereeing?
Since 2014, I have continued my involvement with the Michigan Referee Committee on the instructional and referee mentoring programs. I have also continued my role as the assignor for Great Lakes and Midwest Conferences National League Conference for matches played in Michigan, and ECNL as well.
However, most of my time is involved in the logistical planning of referee support and programming for USYS Midwest Region Presidents Cup and the MW Regional Championships. These two events bring over 400 referees from 14 states (and referee mentors) together to officiate the Midwest Region Championships. A focus of these events is to identify officials that are selected to officiate at the National Championships.
We have also developed a referee academy at the Midwest and Great Lakes Conference spring (Grand Park, IN) and Fall (St. Louis, MO) showcase events, where national referee coaches and referee coaches/mentors work with aspiring referees.
What is your best memory of being a referee?
There are many memories that one has in their officiating careers. But nothing replaces the opportunities and individuals who have influenced views that I hold on the game, and the lessons that they helped me learn that in turn I pass on to others. Having been involved with the MRC took me to national meetings where opportunities to meet with different state administrators happened, and where ideas of how to advance the programs and support offered by the MRC were seeded.
Having served as the Regional Referee Administrator, and being on the staff of the Midwest Region under the leadership of Jonathan Meersman, also created unique opportunities. Each year, through support of U.S. Soccer, current/past FIFA referees have attended our events as well as National Referee Coaches. And attending the National Championships has further widened the net.
What is common in both of the opportunities that I have been exposed to is passion and commitment that each of these persons hold. They are more interested in people than in their own achievements. They are committed to helping others achieve officiating goals. This is what I have embraced. FIFA referees are no different than any of us. They have a passion for the game. They want others to have the opportunity to succeed and will find time to help you when asked.
What I unique about Michigan? How does it compare to other state referee committees?
There are two realities that I learned from the time I served as SYRA in Michigan. First, how wonderful Michigan is in terms of the support and opportunities offered to referees. Other states look at Michigan and cannot understand how we develop so many innovative programs. The Adult and Youth Associations support the Michigan Referee Program and its leadership. They value referees.
But the most significant insight gained from my 20+ years in U.S. Soccer involvement is that we have a leader (Carlos Folino), who along with his wife (Josie) and family, have created one of the most unique referee programs in the nation. Carlos cares deeply about all referees and has dedicated his leadership to supporting others that want to impact referees in the most positive way. He has touched the lives of referees beyond the State of Michigan. He is open, accessible, and supportive beyond anyone’s imagination. He will always find time to speak to referees and help them find a path for them to achieve the highest levels possible.
If one takes the time to go back and review all of the interviews that have been conducted since the inception of the Michigan Referee Committee’s Newsletter, a common theme emerges. Those that have assumed leadership roles have followed in the footprints established by Carlos, but we have also influenced and expanded his vision by his hearing the ideas we had, and helping us to implement them to the benefit of referees that seek support. His investment in all of us – and in our ideas, is what makes Michigan unique. It is a commitment to ALL referees.
Do you have any advice for aspiring referees?
Four thoughts. If you want to succeed, get out of your comfort zone. Seek opportunities to officiate across the state, not just in your local community. The competition in Grand Rapids is different than in Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Lansing, Detroit, Sterling Heights…there are always opportunities to learn about your officiating skills and practices when you are not familiar with the teams and other referees.
Second, find balance. It is not only the number of matches that one officiates that contributes to excellence. It is also the rest, recovery, time away from the game, training, and studying the LOTG or watching matches that help. Few of us will have the opportunity to be a full-time referee. We are at our best when we can leave our school/work at home when we are officiating, and when we can focus on our work/school without thinking about officiating. Seek opportunities to officiate at tournaments (not local) where you will be out of your comfort zone – but on a limited basis. Overworking can lead to bad habits, but being in an unfamiliar environment will challenge you to think about what you are (not) doing and what you need to do better because of the novelty.
Third, be open to feedback. Be a sponge. Learn from others – be open to feedback (positive and negative) that are offered by peers. Seek opportunities for formal (or informal) feedback from mentors. What higher level officials officiate matches. Develop the habit of self-reflection. What did you like about your performance that day? What do you think you can do better? Establish a goal for each match that you officiate. And finally, work each match as if it is the most important match of the day – because for the players it is. And if we dismiss the importance of the match, we do not focus on the attention that we must give to ensure we do our best, but we also lose the focus on the meaning of the game. Have someone video your match – which provides you with an opportunity to see what ‘others see’ when you officiate.
Finally, be open to comments from coaches. While coaches may have different opinions on fouls that we (do not) call, they see the game from a different lens. Some coaches were high-level players and they desire three things – integrity, consistency, and the opportunity to express themselves. They understand that we make mistakes – they coach aspiring players. We too can be viewed as athletes – and coaches are interested in supporting athletes to develop. None of us will ever call a ‘perfect’ game – but when we are open to seeing how others see the world, only then will we begin to understand and learn that the world is not just how we see/experience it.
Enjoy each match. Something can and should be learned from each assignment, from each match.
Thank you, Chico.
A New Mentor Development Cohort
After Mykela Hawkins, Tim Reed, Jeremy Wittrock, and Steve McGuirk successfully completed the mentor development curriculum earlier this year, we have started a new cohort. In our current cohort, we have seven future mentor candidates: Meghan Brasseur, Leighton Kelly, Brad Heers, Larry Olsen, Nick Raith, Kerry Martenis, and Jake Brochu.
Their multiple-month long program includes a few virtual sessions where a manager of each mentor task (performance observation, video analysis, and field session) explains what they are expected to do, followed by a session where candidates practice their new skills. The development program is slated to finish by August so that those who successfully complete the program will be able to go through the licensing process with the U.S. Soccer and the MRC, to start mentoring once the fall season begins.
Women’s Academy in Massachusetts
Over Memorial Day weekend, eight referees from the Michigan Women’s Referee Development Academy (Kaitlin Girbach, Kerry Martenis, Mykela Hawkins, Ashely Peper, Meghan Brasseur, Kristy Bos, Jeren Ghoujeghi, and Kaitlin Keck) went to the USYS New England Regional Showcase in Lancaster, Massachusetts, to attend the USOfficials Referee Memorial Day Academy. We were joined by Yuya Kiuchi and Nichole Kramer-Kiuchi from the Michigan Referee Committee.
Our delegation was tested physically due to our dense assignment schedules of U15-U19 games combined with the cold and rainy New England weather. Despite this, the USO Academy provided many high-quality mentors throughout the tournament, so there were loads of opportunities for feedback and adjustment based on the feedback. With so many games, I could make a change based on feedback and confirm with the mentor that they saw the improvement in my next match, and then try to be even better with it the next time.
With the heavy tournament schedule, there was not too much time off the field to explore the Boston metro area, but most of the Michigan delegation was able to enjoy a delicious Friday night dinner at the Rail Stop Restaurant in Boston. And we all got together with Yuya and Nichole for a bonding debrief, and Indian carryout at the hotel after our day of games on Saturday.
On the third and final day of the tournament, the USO Academy had several of their mentor staff working games which was a very cool opportunity to watch some higher-level referees at work. I had the chance to work with Alexandria Gillies, a former National Referee Candidate with NWSL experience, on my last game of the weekend and it was amazing to watch her manage the game in a way that left even the U17 boys raving. That example gave me a clear goal to work towards as far as game management. As we were leaving the fields for the airport, we were able to briefly catch PRO Referee Alan Kelly carrying the whistle on a U15 girls’ game which was entertainment for the whole Academy.
New Instructional Tool
The Michigan Referee Committee has launched a new website with various refereeing tips. In the blog format, we will be releasing several short entries a month. Each entry will have a short write-up with a video. The page is good for everyone to learn about something new.
To access the page, check out this link.
This page will offer learning opportunities in addition to our existing YouTube channel with weekly videos. You can find our YouTube channel here.
Say Hello to Callous!
What is your name? How old are you? And what breed are you?
Hi! My name is Callous! I am three years old and I am a Siberian Husky!
How long have you known Kaitlin? How did you meet her?
I have known my mommy, Kaitlin, for three years. She met me when I was a super little puppy and she loved me so much! Mommy and daddy brought me home when I was still a puppy in August, 2017.
Do you ever go watch her referee?
Sometimes dad and I will go to the fields and walk around while mommy is refereeing. I love to explore! Sitting through a long soccer game will make me go CRAZY! And I would want to chase my mommy while she’s running! I don’t think that would help her very much.
What do you do while Kaitlin is reffing if you don’t go along?
I stay home with daddy and nap! Sometimes I will forget that she left and then I search the house for her.
Do you help her pack her ref bag?
I LOVE to help! I lay on top of her jerseys to keep them warm and out of the bag 🙂
Do you ever help Kaitlin train for reffing?
Sometimes, mommy will take me on her runs! It is so much fun! I run, and then stop and sniff, and then run again, and then sniff some more, and then I’ll see a squirrel and run really fast! We are both always super tired after we go for a run.
Have you ever chewed up any ref gear of hers?
I haven’t chewed up any of her referee gear, I am such a good girl! But one time, I did eat the insoles she puts in her shoes. She didn’t seem super angry, more shocked and surprised that I ate the whole thing. She makes sure I can’t get to those now.
Can you do a trick? If so, what can you do?
I know SO MANY tricks!! I can sit, stay, and come (when I want to). I also know how to lay down, roll over, shake, speak, dance, and boop! Boop is one that she taught me and I poke her hand with my nose. She and daddy love that one! Sometimes, I will boop them when I want their attention.
What is your favorite toy?
My favorite toy is my buddy!! It’s a dinosaur 🙂 Mommy picked it out for me before they brought me home and I have had it forever. I only chew on his tail and he is my FAVORITE!
What is your favorite treat?
I have SO MANY favorites! I LOVE bananas, apples, peas, and peanut butter!! Mommy will make me homemade frozen treats when it’s hot outside and she’ll use all sorts of tasty fruits! I also love eggs! Sometimes, I get to clean the breakfast plates if she makes eggs and bacon. Or if she makes scrambled eggs, I get to lick the bowl she mixed the eggs in. If she’s in the kitchen, I am always close by 🙂
What is your favorite game to play with Kaitlin?
I love to play fetch! But it’s my special version of fetch. She throws my toy and then I don’t bring it all the way back and she has to get it from me. I am very fast and good at dodging, so I am very good at this game. And it helps keep her agile! I also love when mommy or daddy use the garden hose! I attack the water jet because I have to. When they stop playing with me and I don’t want to stop, then I sing them the song of my people until they play with me again and I get tired. It takes a very long time for me to get tired, so we play a lot 🙂
What do you enjoy about Kaitlin being a referee?
I love when mommy comes home! She’s so happy to see me! And she always needs me to give her kisses and clean her face. She will sit on the floor so I can give her kisses and she pets me and rubs my belly. And sometimes, she brings me a new toy!
What don’t you enjoy about Kaitlin being a referee?
I get sad when she has to be gone for a long time. But she always comes home! I give her extra cuddles when she’s been gone a long time so she knows I missed her and am happy she’s home. Oh, and sometimes, when mommy gets a new whistle, she tests it inside the house. Never for long, but it’s super loud!
What is something unique that you do?
Any time I go outside, I have to take a toy. When mom or dad say “outside” (I know that word so well, I am very smart), then I find a toy to take out with me. But I never bring them back inside! That’s what mommy and daddy are for 🙂
What do you like to do when Kaitlin is not reffing?
When mommy’s not reffing I love to play, nap, get belly rubs, and cuddle! She loves it when I put my head in her lap– I don’t do that a lot, so it’s super special when I do. I follow her all over the house and have to know where she is at all times because I love her. One of my favorite things is when mommy takes me to the doggy park with daddy! They walk around while I run, play with other doggies, sniff, and explore. It’s awesome! Going to the doggy park also means getting to go for a ride in the car- I love that too! I just love her so much. She lets me nap, gives me treats, pets me, rubs my ears and my belly, and she always says how much she loves me. I’m a lucky husky 🙂
State Cup Weekends
The State Cup weekends are busy weekends for many of us. This spring was no different. The quarter and semifinal weekend was May 22 and 23, and the final weekend was June 5 and 6. During the quarter and semifinal weekend, we had 76 games on Saturday and 48 games on Sunday. 105 referees joined the teams in Saginaw to officiate. During the final weekend, we had 28 games on Saturday and 18 games on Sunday. 37 referees were invited to join. We would like to congratulate all the teams that have qualified to the Presidents Cup or NCS Regionals.
A big thank-you goes to all the referees and mentors who attended the event to make it possible. We would also like to thank all the MSYSA staff and volunteers. A special recognition must also go to Sue Grobbel, the State Cup assignor. Not only did she have to make all the assignments for the weekends, she also had to make several last-minute changes to make sure the games had adequate crews.
If you are a referee aspiring to be invited to a State Cup weekend, please talk to a mentor, or reach out to Ron Grobbel, our SYRA. His contact information can be found at the end of this newsletter.
Referee of the Month: Matt Crouch
I first began refereeing soccer back in 2011. I decided to become a referee for a couple of reasons. I wanted to better understand the laws as a player. I figured I could make some extra money officiating. I also thought that it would be fun to do.
It took me a couple of years to find my confidence, since learning to deal with screaming adults as a kid takes time to develop. I remember back in my 3rd year of officiating, I was centering my first tournament final with players a couple years younger than me. I was told that one of the team’s coaches had a tendency to yell at the referees, and I ended up sending off one of his defenders for a DOGSO 5 minutes into the match. The coach became predictably vocal-frantically protesting my decision-but I remained composed and was able to bring him back under control. The rest of the game went smoothly, and I came away from the match with a newfound confidence in my ability as a referee.
If I am being honest, officiating soccer is not always fun. Sometimes I’m tired, and the game is boring, or the game is lively but the coaches and players cross the line with disrespect (I actually had a player spit at me a couple weeks ago). Despite the challenges, I still enjoy refereeing soccer because it keeps me connected to the game that I fell in love with as a young child. Although my playing days are over, I still remember how important matches felt as an athlete, and how frustrating it was when an official made an incorrect call that negatively affected the game. This gravitas is what drives me as a referee. I love the feeling I get at the end of a competition when I know I was able to give the players a fair match. To me, that’s what refereeing the beautiful game is all about.
2021 John Bieniewicz Winners
The winners of the 2021 John Bieniewicz Award are: Carter Buchanan, Pieter Boer, Grant Vissia, Emily Song, and Grace Boettger. Congratulations!
Regional Referee Fitness Test
The very last fitness test of the year took place in South Lyon on June 10.
Those who passed the fitness test this spring will be eligible to be considered for the 2022 regional referee badge as long as other requirements are met. We encourage those who did not pass the test to train so they can pass it in Spring 2022 to regain a regional referee badge in 2023.
We would like to thank all the mentor volunteers who made the fitness tests possible.
USYS Presidents Cup
From June 17 to June 21, 13 referees attended the USYS Presidents Cup in West Chester, Ohio. These referees were selected by the Michigan Referee Committee to represent the state just like participating teams represented the state. The referees were joined by Sue Grobbel, Ron Grobbel, Francisco Villarruel, Carlos Folino, Jeff Dornseifer, and Yuya Kiuchi who had various roles with the state and the region.
Because of the weather, the event schedule was heavily altered. However, all games were mentored by a referee mentor, coach, or national coach, allowing everyone to receive some feedback after each game. Evening virtual classroom sessions also provided them with learning opportunities. Based on their performance, Jason Cross, Justin Janulewicz, and Meghan Brasseur were selected to represent the region at the USYS Presidents Cup national event in July. The event will be in Des Moines, IA.
Congratulations, Jason, Justin, and Meghan! We know you will do really well at the national event!
Ref Tan Lines!
Soccer is back. The Sun is out! We all know what that means. Referee tan lines!
What is Your Call?
In the June newsletter, you were given a clip of a challenge and a possible disciplinary action. The survey asked you to identify if a foul existed, and if it did, by whom with possibly with what disciplinary action.
The June video was this.
This month, 85% of the people answered the question correctly. The offense is a holding offense. When this happened, the attacking team (team in red) had a promising attack opportunity. Although there are several ways to judge if a promising attack exists, one of the ways to think about it is the S+S+O (maybe it’s easier to remember this as S+O+S) approach. For details, please check out this link.
For this month, we have selected another video on challenge and a possible disciplinary action. You can access the video here.
You can submit your answer here.
Who’s Who in Michigan: Amanda Field
Why did you start refereeing and why?
I started officiating in 2005, when I was 15 years old. My dad worked for Coca-Cola and would stock drinks at the Canton Cup. They needed referees so they got my dad, brother, and me to help them referee. We have officiated the Canton Cup as a crew every year since then.
What do you enjoy the most about officiating?
There are so many great benefits that it is hard to choose just one, but overall, I am happy to be able to give back to the sport. One of my favorite things is getting to meet people from all over.
What is your best officiating memory?
My favorite memories are some quotes and incidents from players on the field because it makes officiating light-hearted and keeps me from feeling stressed or pressured.
What made you a successful referee?
For years, I would only referee the Canton Cup and did not do many matches each year. As I got older, I refereed for different leagues throughout the year and then started refereeing high school soccer after I graduated college. Doing more games and challenging myself has made me a better referee over time.
How do you remain engaged in the refereeing world these days?
Surprisingly, I have gotten more engaged over the past year, despite COVID. I became a referee mentor. I have also been an assignor here in northern Michigan for the past two years which has helped me meet and connect with more referees. I try to get my soccer players, fellow coaches, my students, and even my soccer-loving friends to become referees. I have also tried suggesting to a few vocal parents that they become referees as well, but they always seem to quickly decline.
What do you do when you are not on the field?
I feel like I am always on the field because I also coach varsity girls’ soccer. However, my full-time job is teaching middle school Spanish.
How do you spend time during the off season?
In the winter, I play indoor soccer and help run our ski and snowboarding club at school.
What is the best refereeing advice you’ve ever received?
As with anything else, practice makes perfect (well almost) so I would suggest finding ways to get involved as much as possible. When I first started out and did not understand the Laws of the Game very well, I was not confident of myself as a referee. To gain more confidence, do not be afraid to ask questions of other referees. Try to referee more games and find ways to improve your skills off the field. You need to find out what works best for you. Do you use Facebook? Join the Michigan Referees Facebook group. Do you use Twitter? Follow the MRC on Twitter. Find some way to get involved off the pitch.
Tips on Handling Coach and Spectator Misconduct
One of the issues referees have to deal with is coaches and spectators questioning their calls and/or harassing referees verbally during the game. Soccer is a passionate sport and for many reasons some people involved with soccer cannot contain their emotions or opinions without sounding off during the game. Spectator and coach misconduct is often credited as the reason for many referees deciding to not continue officiating. What are some ways that we as officials can do to help from this getting out of control?
Every coach or spectator with a player in the game may express an emotion verbally when something happens to their player or their team that they feel is unfair or not in accordance with the rules. A verbal expression of this feeling is sometimes hard to contain. Referees need to be able to handle a few of these when they hear them. Having “Rabbitt Ears” is overreacting.
What needs addressing is verbal expressions of dissent that are loud enough to be heard by many others are abusive, personal, or profane. Continuing verbal comments by a coach that are attempts to make calls for the referee need to be addressed.
Many referees are teenagers which also presents a special challenge. Refereeing a youth soccer game can pit an unruly adult against a teenager. Most well-raised teenagers are taught to respect adults. When there is a full-grown adult acting irresponsibly towards a teenage referee, the world is “turned upside down.” This can be difficult for teenage referees to handle, especially if the coach or spectator is getting angrier and angrier because they don’t like the way the game is being officiated. The intimidation factor is surely in play in this situation.
Most leagues in their rules state that coaches are responsible for the conduct of their spectators. The referee does not have to directly confront an unruly spectator. The coach is responsible for warning the spectator. Most coaches know this and will help. I personally have seen this handled very effectively by coaches when I have asked. On occasion a coach may not be willing to help the referee with his spectators. I will address how to handle this.
Confronting the situation is the only option. As my old referee mentor used to say, “If you have a headache, take an aspirin!” As intimidating as it may seem, confrontation is the only method of stopping this behavior. The referee must step up to this issue or the behavior will continue.
While the referee may warn a bench personnel, if needed, a yellow card must be shown. Or, the referee may need to issue a red card. The Laws of the Game is very clear what behavior warrants what sanction by the referee.
Michigan Referee Committee
State Referee Administrator (SRA): Carlos Folino
State Referee Chairman (SRC): James Wheeler
State Youth Referee Administrator (SYRA): Ronald Grobbel
State Director of Referee Development (SDRD): Yuya Kiuchi
State Director of Assignors (SDoA): John Corbett
State Director of Futsal (SDF): Richard Gilbert
Email addresses are the title in parenthesis plus @michiganrefs.org
Please reach out to us!
If you have any referee-related stories to share or someone you think should be featured in this newsletter, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
If you know anyone who would like to become a referee, we offer numerous grassroots referee classes, as well. You can find relevant information here.
Contact one of us on the Michigan Referee Committee if you have any questions.