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Michigan Referee Program / Newsletter  / October Newsletter

October Newsletter

Volume 3, Issue 8
October 1, 2022

Welcome readers. My name is Nick Balcer, editor for the MRC Newsletter. This is my first month being the editor, so I’d like to give you a little of my background. This year is my 19th year of being a certified referee, all of them in Michigan. I am a US Soccer National Assistant Referee, PRO2 Assistant Referee, and NCAA referee. I primarily work games in the USL Championship, which is the 2nd tier of the US Soccer Pyramid. I have been working as a professional AR since 2019 and was fortunate enough to make my MLS debut in September of 2020. My goal as editor is to share stories from our fellow officials from around the state, highlight accomplishments from all different levels, and bring updates from around the world of refereeing. I hope you enjoy reading and if you have any ideas that you think would be a good feature in our newsletter, please feel free to share with me at

New Director of Recruitment & Director of Communications

As the Michigan Referee Committee continues to grow and expand its footprint, it has added opportunities for more areas of outreach to officials and prospective officials. In doing so, we would like to introduce two new positions within the MRC. 

First, we would like to welcome our new Director of Recruitment, Kristy Bos. Kristy hails from Grand Rapids and has been a certified referee for 13 years. She got her start in the game at 11 years old when she wanted to have a job around the sport she grew up loving and to make a little money. Refereeing quickly turned into a passion and she loves the referee community she has been a part of for more than a decade. As the new Director of Recruitment, Kristy’s goals are to keep growing the new numbers of referees we get registered each year, make the registration process as streamlined & easy as possible, and grow the retention rate to continue to build the referee program.

Secondly, we would like to welcome our new Director of Communications, Eric Siegrist. Eric is from Wixom and has been a referee for just shy of 10 years. He first got involved in refereeing at the age of 11. His interest was piqued after his sister signed up to be a referee. So he signed up for a class and the rest is history. As the Director of Communications, Eric will be bringing engaging content via the MRC social media channels. He will also be revamping the entire MRC communication strategy and helping to support referee recruitment. Speaking of communication, make sure to follow the MRC on Twitter @MichiganReferee, subscribe to the MRC YouTube Channel, and follow our blog MRC Referee Tips

Coming up in Michigan

  • October 1- New Referee Field Session at Wanda Park in Sterling Heights
  • October 1 & 2- Girls State Cup Quarter Finals & Semi Finals at Saginaw Soccer Complex
  • October 9- New Referee Field Session at Hope Soccer Complex in Lansing 
  • October 11- New Referee Field Session at Grandville High School  
  • October 15 & 16- Girls State Cup Finals at Brighton Legacy Center

Referee of the Month- Matthew Sherry, Grassroots Referee

How did you get started in soccer and refereeing? 

I began playing rec soccer when I was five years old and a couple years later I played with the Novi Jaguars. At the Jaguars I had the opportunity to play for some great coaches who taught me the game and showed me how much fun soccer can be. I started refereeing when I was a freshman in high school as a way to make some spending money doing something I enjoyed and have now been doing it for 8 years. I love being around the game and having a really good view of some competitive games at any level. It’s always fun to run into an old coach and remind them I’m carrying yellow and red cards.

What is a referee memory that you have and a few goals for the future? 

Some of my best refereeing memories are from going to the State Cup Tournament, getting to know referees from across the state and spending time swapping stories off the pitch. My biggest goal right now as a referee is to keep working at getting better through training, feedback from evaluators and help from the occasional spectator wanting to explain offside to me. I would like to continue to ref the highest-level youth soccer games and hopefully one day college games. I am also interested in working towards my regional badge once I meet the criteria. 

What is life like off the soccer pitch? 

Off the field, I am currently a senior at Michigan State University where I am studying Medical Laboratory Science. Over the summer I worked for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in the Bureau of Laboratories testing mosquito pools for common arboviruses. (Nobody wants infected mosquitos ruining a soccer season). After I graduate, I plan to work in a blood bank hospital lab for a little bit before going on to medical school to specialize in emergency medicine. Outside of school I am a big sports fan and love going to all the MSU sporting events to cheer them on. I also enjoy fishing and playing pickup basketball and soccer in my free time.

Michigan Referees by the Numbers

July 1 opens the registration period for referees to get certified or recertify for the 2023 year for US Soccer. The MRC is excited to report that as of the end of September, 209 brand new referees have completed all of their requirements to become certified. In addition to that number, 618 people have started the process through the US Soccer portal to become a new referee. 

With the new number of referees currently in the process of getting certified the MRC is looking to expand upon the 12% growth in numbers from 2021 to 2022. Thank you to all who have helped in the process of recruiting, certifying and mentoring our new referees. Below are the numbers of referees registered per year from the last 8 years. 

2022 badge: 2973
2021 badge: 2656
2020 badge: 2884
2019 badge: 4801
2018 badge: 4709
2017 badge: 4532
2016 badge: 4522
2015 badge: 4352

2023 New Referee Field Session

WMYSA Referee Scholarship Program

The West Michigan Youth Soccer Association is currently running a Referee Scholarship Program for new referees. They are offering $200 to new referees who pass the Grassroots Referee Certifications and join either the West Michigan Soccer Referees Association (WMSRA) or the Southwest Michigan Soccer Referees Association (SWMSRA). In order to receive the $200 you must apply and adhere to the guidelines of the program. More details about the program, how to apply & contact information can be found here: WMYSA Referee Scholarship Program 

Grassroots Recert

The grassroots referee recertification page is now available online. All components of the recertification process will be done online and without needing to attend a classroom session or Zoom meeting. If you are 18 years of age or older, you will need to log-in to the US Soccer Learning Center to complete your SafeSport requirements. Visit the page to recert now: MRC Grassroots Recertification

IFAB Laws of the Game 2022-23 Changes Refresher

During the summer IFAB released its 2022-23 Laws of the Game and it included some updates and changes. Even though we are a little over a month into our fall season, it’s always helpful to have a refresher to those changes and how they apply to the games we are working. Check out the MRC Video about the law changes here: 2022-23 LOTG Changes

2023 John Bieniewicz Memorial College Scholarship Applications

Applications for the 2023 John Bieniewicz Memorial College Scholarship are now being accepted. This annual scholarship awards 5 graduating high school seniors $2,000 to be used towards expenses at an accredited college, university, community/junior college, trade or vocational school. Applications are open to current and former US Soccer certified referees who have officiated a minimum of 3 years and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. 

This scholarship was established in memory of our friend John Bieniewicz who passed away in 2014. John had a love for the game that was infectious. He loved working with new and young referees who wanted to improve and advance in their referee careers. This scholarship honors his legacy and passion for improving referees here in Michigan. 

Scholarship application link: 2023 John Bieniewicz Memorial College Scholarship Application

Deadline for applications is March 21, 2023

Any questions about the scholarship may be directed to Peter Morrisey: 

Stan Krajkowski retires from the DDRD position in Saginaw/Flint

After years of mentoring in the Saginaw/Flint area, Mr. Stan Krajkowski retired from mentoring this month. He has been particularly instrumental in referee development in the area as a District Director of Referee Development. Along with other mentors in the area, Stan was able to host a few field sessions for new and existing referees. We would like to thank Stan for his many years of work helping local referees and the Michigan Referee Committee.

Remembering Kevin Mesman, 1978-2022

The MRC and entire Michigan Referee community shares its condolences with our friends and fellow colleagues from South Dakota on the passing of Kevin Mesman. Kevin was a staple at Midwest Region events officiating games, mentoring, and passing out compliments to referees. It was hard to miss his tall frame, Aviator sunglasses, gelled hair, and smile. He was instrumental in building the South Dakota Referee Program and helped seek out many opportunities for young officials in the state and region. Kevin will be missed greatly by all who knew him. Rest in Peace Kevin.

Evolution of Referee Training 

Ken Wikle
Emeritus Regional Referee

I became a US Soccer referee instructor in Michigan when Ronald Reagan was president. If you don’t know when that was you can do your own Google search! 

In those “Days of Yore” the introductory referee course was all done in a classroom on four successive Saturdays at facilities that the Michigan Referee Committee rented. We handed out printed books on the Laws of the Game and used a black board. Some of the more creative instructors went to the copy center and made “transparencies” that we projected on a screen with an overhead projector. Handwritten explanations of the laws, diagrams, and static photos of fouls were the most sophisticated teaching tools. With time and the innovation of PowerPoint we could use approved visuals to teach the course using an expensive projector attached to our laptop computer. 

In those days a referee instructor to be effective had to have a good speaking voice, accurate about his explanations of the Laws, be able to be witty, and have a few interesting “war stories” to illustrate the topics they were teaching. The most effective instructors were therefore the most interesting presenters.

In the past few years, the use of videos to illustrate fouls, misconduct, and law infractions have brought referee instruction to new levels. With many of the videos having their own narration, instructors do not need to be excellent entertainers. The use of US Soccer online referee training has done much to make sure every new referee candidate gets consistent instructional information.

During all these years one piece of the learning curve for new referees was missing: actual practice of blowing the whistle, making signals, and physical mechanics of where to be to make a call. As instructors, we knew this was missing but did not quite know what to do about it. Our newly graduated referees were cast out into shark-infested waters to either swim or get eaten by sharks. Some referee associations mentored new referees when they first started and some experienced referees who could provide helpful feedback to rookie referees. New referees watched more experienced veterans and mimicked them. You can imagine how many referees developed their skills depending on this mode of unofficial training. Fortunately, there were many well-informed older referees to supply some of the rookies with good feedback. Michigan developed many extremely effective seasoned referees through other methods of mentoring promising soccer referees.

Several years ago, US Soccer finally came up with an answer and required a practical field session as a part of the certification process.

With the interruption caused by the pandemic, the introduction of the field session was delayed for the most part. Field sessions were held sporadically throughout the state, but the important news is that a field session is now required for certification as referee.

In a three-hour field session, future referees learn about mechanics, positioning, signaling, etc. They also learn how to blow a whistle as a communication tool. The actual “exercises” will provide practice in the skills necessary to officiate. Referees who were certified without the field session requirement are invited to attend various field session opportunities that local associations may provide.

Referee training has evolved for years but with the introduction of the field session requirement, we have another tool to provide new referees with skills that they can implement right away.

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
Manager of Performance Observation (mgr.observation): Tim Deters
Manager of Field Sessions (mgr.field): Jeff Dornseifer
Manager of Video Analysis ( Nichole Kramer-Kiuchi
Manager of Pedagogy (mgr.pedagogy): Kalani Burghard

Email addresses are the title in parenthesis plus

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 the Editor-In-Chief, Brad Barlog at

MRC announcements

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.

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