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Interview With Youth Soccer Referee, Preston Trager

By Mike McGinley, 08/14/18, 8:15AM PDT

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Increased self-confidence. Responsibility. Teamwork.  Moreover, a paycheck.  

These are a few of the benefits enjoyed by youth soccer referees.  

I had the opportunity to interview youth referee, Preston Trager, a teenager who has played soccer for San Ramon FC for years. He is also a hard-working student who will be an 8th grader in middle school in San Ramon this fall.

Preston talked about his experience as a youth referee and we received a parent’s perspective from his mother, Mari Miller, too. 

This fall, he will play in our club’s recreational program while also refereeing soccer matches on the weekends.  
 

Getting started as a youth referee

According to Preston, his mom first had the idea for him to try refereeing. 

His friend Marcos Perez is also a referee.  He signed up online for an entry-level referee course.  He completed the training in San Ramon and passed the required test.  The referee course involves both classroom and on the field training. 

To check for available referee courses in San Ramon, Danville, and other Bay Area cities, please click here:View referee classes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To work as a referee, you also need to buy the referee uniform, flags, a whistle, and other equipment. Sometimes you can find "referee starter kits" online that include the uniform, flags, and all necessary items.  You can also buy items from local stores, like Soccer Pro in Dublin.  Soccer Pro also offers a 20% discount to members of San Ramon FC, which you can apply to referee items.

Additionally, referees need to wear a watch with a start/stop timer to keep time.

Tell us about your first match working as a referee

Preston said before the first match he felt “pumped” and after it was over, he felt “great.”

He worked as an assistant referee in his first match, which is typical for new referees, especially youth referees.

Since then, he has worked “a lot of matches, too many to count”; including work as a head referee for matches in the younger age groups.  

Being a soccer referee and a soccer player

Soccer referees enjoy a flexible schedule and can choose which matches to work.

In terms of his weekend schedule, Preston can plan his refereeing work around his own team’s game schedule.  

Preston’s referee experience helps him as a player on the field too.  He can now see the match from the referee’s point of view and knows all the rules of the game.

Preston’s teammates think “it’s cool” that he is a referee.  He said some of his soccer friends want to be a youth referee too.

His family thinks his referee job is great and his friends exclaim, “You get paid?”

Likes, dislikes, and a favorite referee moment

For starters, Preston said it surprised him that referee work “isn’t as easy as it looks.”  

He likes working together as a team with other assistant referees.  In terms of dislikes, he said, “sometimes the coaches.”

He shared this memorable moment with us:

“One of my favorite times [refereeing] was coming off the field hungry at 12 pm after doing 3 games and seeing all these yummy Subway sandwiches for refs. That made my day!”

A parent’s perspective

Preston’s Mom, Mari Miller, shared her thoughts about her son’s referee job.

“The referee job has helped him learn to work with adults, coaches, parents, kids, helped with his self-confidence and maturity, not to mention learning about money, banking, saving, ATM cards, how to purchase stuff online, etc.”  

She continued by saying, “Also, [it gives him] the ability to purchase luxury items for himself, like his brand new Apple watch and high-end scooter.” 

Will he continue refereeing?

Absolutely!  In fact, Preston added more matches to his referee work.  

On Mondays, he often referees two indoor matches at the San Ramon East Bay Sports facility.  For those matches, he is the lone referee.

His favorite referee work has to be futsal though. 

According to Mari, “Preston needed an additional 8-hour course and test to be able to referee futsal, which he took that class after the first season of outdoor, down in San Jose, last year.” 

On Saturdays in the winter, he referees indoor futsal matches at San Ramon FC’s indoor futsal facility.

“He likes futsal referee work best, because there are two referees working the same game, one on each line. This makes it is easier than being a solo referee, which of course is more mental work.  He prefers to work as a team with other referees,” Mari said.

By all indications, it seems that Preston has found a cool part-time job that works for him. 

All jobs have positive and negative aspects to them and refereeing is no exception. For Preston, the positives of referee work outweigh any perceived negatives. 

“I think he likes the social aspect and camaraderie of being part of a team of referees.  He wants to referee more futsal games,” Mari said.

When we asked Preston if he had any tips or advice he can share with other boys and girls who are interested in being a referee, he had this to say, “Stick with your call. You are always right!”

How is that for increased self-confidence?

As a youth soccer club, we are grateful for referees who work at our outdoor matches and indoor futsal matches. Referees are indispensable and often in short supply. 

We implore you: Always treat the referees with respect.  Every referee. Every time. 

Please remember referees are Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors.  

From the perspective of many referees, disgruntled parents, players, and coaches are the biggest negative aspect of the job. You may not agree with every call, but they are doing their best to make the right call at a given moment.

Online resources for referees

View referee classes in the San Francisco Bay Area

Cal North Referee Administration website

Cal North Referee website: Become a referee

Referee uniforms and starter kits from officialsports.com

NorCal Premier's resources page for referees

US Youth Soccer referee page

US Soccer: Frequently asked questions about refereeing