Monday, February 09, 2004

Well, I didn't chicken out after all. On Saturday morning I was still waffling about going to this referee certification. On the one hand, I know our local leagues face a serious soccer referee shortage, and there are too many kids shouldering the responsibility of officiating games when adults should be up off their butts doing it. Not to say that kids aren't good refs. Indeed, almost all of the kids I know could beat the pants off me. But sometimes these kids are asked to ref games beyond their maturity. Also on the "just do it" side, was knowing that I'd learn so much more than I already know about soccer. My experience is in the spectator and administrative areas of soccer leagues. This would be a totally new experience. But my "don't do it" thoughts ran like this:

1. I don't really have an extra 15 hours this weekend for something that's not completely necessary. And I'd love an afternoon of stitching.

2. I don't know any other adults that are taking this course, and I don't want to be the only adult in a room full of kids (who actually know more about soccer than I do because they all play) for two days.

3. If I fail this test at the end, it will be god-awful embarrassing.

So...I got there, fully prepared to drop DS off and drive away, but then I saw a few other adults arrive, and I was told that they were holding a separate session for adults. Because of our age and our longer attention spans (HA!), we would finish the course in 12 hours instead of 15 because we'd move faster and take fewer and shorter breaks.

"But I've never done this before!", I cried. "Don't worry," she said, we'll start at the beginning and teach you everything. So I paid my money, took a deep breath, and walked into the room.

We had a class of 13 adults, 7 of whom were college soccer players. These boys had been playing since they were four years old. Then there were six of us oldsters. Most of the men had coached for their leagues. Two of us were women. Well, three if you count the instructor who, by the way, was excellent. Of the women, Marcie had coached one year of soccer for 6 year olds. I had observed soccer at several age levels for about 9 years, but had never coached nor officiated.

What can I say? It was very, very interesting. It was humbling. To think that we did our classroom refereeing in slow motion and even then it was like: "Blink, blink, is that ball REALLY over the goal line?" Or on paper, "Player A runs this way, player B runs that way, and Player C kicks the ball, and XYZ happens, what's the proper restart of play?" Wait, wait, let me read that again!! I can't decide! Yet my 15 y.o. son can do this in a heartbeat. So like I said, it was humbling.

Well, I was pretty good at the coin flip....

But from 9AM till 9PM, we worked hard, asked questions, and took tests and by the time I left Saturday night, I was a card-carrying, patch-wearing, official coin-toting Grade 8 Certified Soccer Referee.

Lord help us. I only hope they only assign me as an Assistant Ref for the entire spring season, because I feel like I need 3 months of observation before I don that whistle.

I know that now I'll look differently at games, and probably enjoy them more. And mind you - I'll never verbalize that I thought a ref blew a call again. I will sit quietly at soccer games and say only positive things. I'll use my new powers for good, not evil. Uh-oh, maybe my head is getting a bit swelled. Time to go deflate. I'll just remind myself that a 10 year old probably scored better on the test than I did....

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