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Michigan Referee Program / Uncategorized  / Michigan Referee Newsletter

Michigan Referee Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 3

From the Editor

Hello readers, and welcome to a double issue of the MRC Newsletter for March & April. As the weather for the most part has seemed to turn towards spring, we turn our attention to the beginning of the spring 2023 outdoor season. All of the top leagues in the US have kicked off and many of the leagues, competitions, and tournaments in Michigan have started or will be soon. In this issue we will recap some events from the last few months, interview one of Michigan’s newest Regional Referees, share a few tips on warming up, and more. 

If you have a topic or story that you think would be a good feature in our Newsletter, make sure to share it with me at Also stay up to date with everything referee related from the MRC through our media channels: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and our Blog

Nick Balcer

Editor, MRC Newsletter

In this Issue:

Availability, Availability, Availability

As we kick off the 2023 season, assignors across the state in many leagues and competitions are making game assignments. A large part of assigning is checking the availability of officials to assign to games. The importance of being up to date on your schedule and availability is crucial to the assigning process and makes it go smoother. The MRC would like to remind you to take the time at least once a week if not more to make sure you have your availability up to date. With so many games taking place almost every day of the week, assignors have a difficult task in assigning officials to cover these games. Make sure to help them out by managing your calendar. The MRC thanks you all for your diligence in helping out our assignors. 

Here is a link that shares some more information about availability and using Game Officials to set your schedule along with some best practices: Get Games- MRC Website

Advanced Referee Clinics

(Advanced Referee Clinic in Warren) 

In February the MRC hosted three advanced referee clinics in Portage, Warren, and Lansing.  These sessions were identical to each other in their content and were held across the state to make it easier for referees to participate.

Those referees working on at least MLS Next games and above were invited to participate. This group of officials make up the pool of officials working on high-level adult games in the state in 2023, namely NPSL, USL-2, USL-W, USL-A, and UWS. The class content was tailored to these upper level games.

The instructors of the classes were Andrew Hoard, Nichole Kramer-Kiuchi, Kristy Bos, Josh Abts, Ron Grobbel, Carlos Folino, and Yuya Kiuchi. The class covered the following topics: considerations for dissent and delayed restart, penalty area incidents, tempo management, 4th official duties, and expectations for the season.

For those who wish to work on these higher-level games should contact their local assignor to be recommended to the next level games. It takes time to make it to these semi-pro level games. But if you work hard, you may find yourself with an invitation in a few years.

Meet Marcus Barnett, Regional Referee 2023

Pictured left to right, Eric Siegrist, Marcus Barnett, Joshua Weller

Marcus Barnett is one of the 5 newest regional referees in Michigan, getting his badge for 2023. We asked Marcus a few questions to get to know more about him. 

How did you get into refereeing? 

I started refereeing in 2008 when I was 13 years old. I got into refereeing for two reasons. The first is because I was able to referee games for some money on the weekends at a young age. The second (and real) reason is because when I would play soccer, I always thought to myself – I could do a better job than some of these referees. But instead of complaining, I decided to become a part of the solution. So while I might not have thought like that when I was 13 and 14, it was a large factor as to why I continued refereeing into my teens instead of quitting. I was able to learn the game from a new and different perspective, which in turn, made me a better player as well. 

How would you describe your referee journey so far? 

Just getting started, even though I have been refereeing for a long time, I have only been a part of moving up the referee ladder for 3 years. And at 27 years old I have no intention of stopping until someone tells me to. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of the game? 

When I am not refereeing and outside of my day job I enjoy playing video games with my friends as a way of hanging out or keeping up with them. I enjoy building LEGO sets, specifically LEGO Star Wars sets, I work out and train, and love watching sports and playing fantasy football.

Now that you are a regional, what is a new goal that you have going forward for your next phase of refereeing? 

Other than making sure I do the required work to maintain my Regional badge, the biggest goal I have for this year is to start working on my portfolio in preparation to apply for my National badge. In addition to that, other goals include simply having the opportunity to continue refereeing at the highest level that I can achieve. Refereeing in any position to get the opportunity for more games at the USL2 & NISA level, and considerations for games beyond that. 

Current Michigan Referee Numbers

  • 1 PRO Official
  • 2 PRO2 Officials
  • 3 National Officials
  • 27 Regional Officials
  • 2022 Grassroots Officials
  • 4 National Emeritus Officials
  • 44 Regional Emeritus Officials
  • 3 National Referee Coaches
  • 2 PRO Referee Coaches
  • 1 Referee Coach
  • 67 Referee Assignors
  • 61 Referee Mentors

*Note- Officials in PRO (Professional Referee Organization) work exclusively games in the MLS. PRO2 Officials work exclusively games in the USL, NWSL, and MLS Next Pro. National Officials are in the pool of officials for matches in the USL, NWSL, and MLS Pro as well. 

The MRC is always looking for new officials to become certified. If you know of anyone who might be interested in signing up to be a referee, you can direct them to this webpage on the MRC Website: Become a Referee

Questions about becoming a referee can be directed to the MRC’s Manager of Recruitment & Retention, Kristy Bos at

Continuing Education Recap

Continuing Education Session #3

On February 9, the MRC hosted its 3rd session in the ongoing series. For the first 30 minutes, Christian Little talked about what it was like to be a national official. One thing that he emphasized was that refereeing is a lifestyle and not just something you do in the evening or on a weekend. He wakes up early to train. He does not drink once the season starts just so if there is a last-minute assignment, he can be ready. He also talked about several study groups that he belongs to so that he can continue to learn about the game. After Christian’s talk, Steve McGuirk, Stephanie Pickerel, and Brad Heers made a presentation on challenges. 

Continuing Education Session #4

On February 19, the MRC hosted session 4. National AR Jake Brochu kicked off the session by talking about what it takes to be a national referee. A message that stood out to many referees was that he ran a fitness test multiple times a week, even right after eating lunch or at the worst condition just so he can be prepared to pass a fitness test any time. He also talked about his NWSL debut match last year. Between getting the game assignment and coming back home, he only had fewer than 48 hours. For those who are busy with work or school, Jake’s talk was particularly inspiring because he had only been to a major event once. He went to Youth Regionals representing Kansas once. But he has never attended the Development Academy events, Youth Nationals, Presidents Cup, Generation Adidas, National League events, or Dallas Cup. This truly underscores the point that what matters is where you are seen, who sees you, who you know, or anything like that but what you can do as an official. 

After Jake’s talk, Kerry Martenis, John Corbett, Jim DeBrabander, and Ivan Padilla talked about tactical fouls.

Continuing Education Session #5

On February 28, the MRC held its penultimate continuing education session. Ron Grobbel talked about the referee development pathway within Michigan. This information was particularly helpful for those who wish to move up from local recreational games like CASL, MYSL, and others to the State Cup level competition. After the call, many reached out to Ron for more information. Some have even received an invitation to attend the State Cup quarter final weekend in Saginaw in June.

After Ron’s talk, Joe Suchoski, Octavian Petrescu, Amanda Acosta, and Kailtin Girbach talked about handball.

Continuing Education Session #6

March 15th marked the final session of the MRC’s winter continuing education series. Midwest Region Referee Administrator, Francisco Villarruel, shared what it means to be a referee at the US Youth Regional and National Levels. He stressed the importance of always working hard because you never know who might be watching your game at any particular time. He also shared about how critical it is to continue to work in the way that got you invited to Regionals. Many times he has seen referees change how they officiate at Regionals.The key is to make sure to “do what got you there”. 

After Chico’s presentation,  Aaron Scherer, Tyler Gregory, Rob Ruta, and John Nadzam lead a talk about management.

The MRC would like to thank everyone who was able to attend the 6 different continuing education sessions for this winter. These sessions are critical pieces in the ongoing learning of referee development. 

Fitness Tips with Ryan Homik: Warm-up

One of the most important ways referees prepare for games is to get in a good warm-up, especially on cold days. A good warm-up is key to optimal performance and injury prevention. For this topic, we are going to revisit a video from Regional Referee Ryan Homik, in which he talks about different elements of warming up for matches. Warming Up

Ryan also shared a warm-up card that he uses in preparation for a match. 

For any fitness tips or questions, you can reach out to Ryan via email: 

Brand-new Referee Mentor Certification

On Feb 25 and 26, the MRC hosted a brand-new Referee Mentor Certification course in East Lansing. 10 referee mentor candidates joined the 2 day course. 

On Day 1, the candidates practiced leading a video analysis session and conducting a performance observation. On Day 2, they worked on their field session skills. It was followed by a performance observation session with actual referees from the local Lansing area. Then, the candidates conducted a performance observation.

The MRC is happy to announce that all the following individuals have passed the evaluation and they have been certified as referee mentors: Meghan Brasseur, Joe Suchoski, Gavin Bergquist, Jason Greaves, David Neill, Joshua Pederson, Steven Seward, Kent Tim, and Brett Willner. There is 1 attendee who is finishing up the last of the requirements. With the addition of these 9, Michigan now has 61 referee mentors, 1 referee coach, and 3 national referee coaches. 

We would also like to thank all the instructors who helped teach this class: Carlos Folino, Ron Grobbel, Yuya Kiuchi, Jeff Dornseifer, Tim Deters, Kristy Bos, Jim DeBrabander, Francisco Villarruel, Josh Abts, and Andrew Hoard.

If you are interested in becoming a referee mentor, please reach out to your DDRD. 

Request a Mentor

If you are interested in being evaluated by a referee mentor, you can submit a request here: Request a Mentor. The MRC is excited to introduce the newest 10 mentors into the pool and they will be busy evaluation and watching games this spring. For a match you would like evaluated, please submit a request more than 2 weeks prior to the game. You can submit a request under 2 weeks, but the MRC cannot guarantee that a mentor will be able to complete an observation of the match. 

Some Recent Photos

A few recent photos of Michigan referees in action at local games and a few national events. If you have photos you would like featured in the newsletter and on our social media channel, you can share them with our Manager of Communication Eric Siegrist at

Refresher: Supplemental Report Writing

As we get back into the swing of the season, a good refresher is always helpful. One piece that is crucial to officiating that we hopefully don’t have to do often, is supplemental report writing. The details in a supplemental report are key to determining the type of discipline that is potentially needed, provides valuable information to administrators both on the referee side & club/league side, and needs to reflect on the Laws of the Game when being written. 

Let’s take a look at a video done by Yuya Kiuchi for best practices in report writing: How to write a supplemental report

MRC Blog- Refereeing Tips

As a piece of ongoing education, the MRC has a Blog set up that is used to talk about topics, even including video clips for analysis and considerations. The purpose of these topics, posts, and videos is not to call out referees for potential mistakes made, rather for officials to use the material to analyze what did or didn’t work in a given situation. To use the talking points in the blogs to help all officials learn on how to navigate situations better and learn. 

You can check out the latest blog posts from the MRC here: MRC Ref Tips


By Ken Wikle, Regional Emeritus Referee

During my training to become a US Soccer Mentor the act of “reflection” was stressed. Reflection is the act of reviewing a game or event upon completion to evaluate how it went to determine what went well and what could have gone better. The value of reflecting to the referee and AR’s is to stimulate critical thought about events during the game, to feel good about things that were handled well, and also to evaluate events that were not handled well to explore alternative ways that may work better for the future. By the referees practicing this procedure hopefully a learning process will occur after getting each other’s input.

I have not experienced much reflection occurring during my most recent outdoor seasons. I must blame myself for this when I am the referee. I have given feedback to my AR’s when there are aspects of their signaling or mechanics that are either incorrect or in need of improvement. As a referee with over thirty years’ experience at many levels of soccer and a mentor, I feel I have something to offer new referees if done in a constructive manner.

If reflection has positive benefits, why don’t we do this more? Let me share some perceived barriers. 

Sharing performance aspects with partners who we do not know personally might be uncomfortable. I do many games with young teenage referees in their first few years of officiating. I try to get to know them personally before we start the game (A good reason for all of us to be at the field 30 minutes before kickoff). 

Where are you from? Do you play soccer also? Do you play for your school? What club do you play for? How long have you been refereeing? Questions like these can break the ice. Announcing that you want to get together as a crew at half time and after the game to discuss how things went is also helpful.

Giving and receiving feedback from fellow officials in a team effort can be an uncomfortable process to some of us. It is important that verbal feedback be conducted in a constructive manner. All parties should endeavor to speak their minds in a diplomatic manner so the feedback will not be taken as a personal attack. 

As a referee with years of experience, I am not averse to constructive criticism. There are aspects of my game performance that could be improved. I should ask my AR’s if they think my handling of situations has been done well. Even young referees with minimal experience may have something valuable to offer. Even if they don’t have something to offer, we could discuss an incident that happened and what Laws and considerations apply to make the correct call. By bringing this up and discussing it a new referee could gain some practical knowledge for future reference.

By simply asking each other “What went well?” and “What could have gone better?” the referee crew can stimulate reflection.

By reflecting after the game everyone gets not only additional game experience but the opportunity to learn to be better referees.

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 Recruitment (mgr.recruitment): Kristy Bos
Manager of Communication (mgr.communications): Eric Siegrist
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, Nick Balcer 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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