What are your highlights from the 2023 training program and why?
My highlights were being able to bond with my fellow match officials and instructors. Coming from Windsor, I had yet to be exposed to a large group of L1O referees, especially ones that live in the GTA, but these training sessions helped me build relationships and get to know these outstanding officials both personally and professionally.
It was also helpful being able to talk with the L1O match official coaches and instructors. I was able to ask questions and become increasingly familiar with foul recognition.
What was the biggest thing you learned from the training program?
Developing a deeper understanding with contact to the head in a game scenario. Being able to recognize and differentiate between careless, reckless, and excessive force of contact to the head are instances relatively new to me, especially at a high level. I’m confident that when there is a play involving this, I will apply the laws of the game and make the correct decision.
What's your pregame meal?
Especially on road trips, my pregame meal is a Pita Pit wrap and a Booster Juice smoothie. This tradition was started by my good friend and now NEXTGEN assistant referee Joey Filipic, who has helped train and develop my abilities in these recent years.
Since then, it has become the norm to arrive at the location three hours prior to start time, find a Pita Pit and Booster Juice to have lunch or dinner, then go to work as hard as possible for 90-plus minutes. The tradition gave me some of my favourite memories from last season.
Which L1O official you'd like to work with on a gameday?
Angelina Baldino is the only RUG [Regional Upgrading Program] match official in the 2023 program. Her knowledge of the game and her dedication to L1O inspires me, and we have extremely similar referee styles, so I would love to be able to move up the ranks of officiating with her.
How did you get into officiating?
I started refereeing House League soccer at the age of 12 as a summer job. I became an Ontario Soccer-certified official in 2014 and stayed locally most of the time. At 20 years old I became, and continue to be, the Director of Referees for my association, helping in the development of new match officials.
I am currently a Juris Doctor Candidate at Wayne State University Law School, and I believe the two professions go hand-in-hand. In law, I need to apply the law to the facts of any given case, no matter how abstract, and in soccer matches I apply the laws of the game to real-time scenarios. Being a match official has aided me significantly in my legal career.
What is your earliest officiating memory?
My earliest officiating memory is when I first started refereeing: an U5 player had just received the ball, went all the way down the field and scored… in his own goal. The player was just so happy he finally put the ball in the net and all the parents were cheering him on. I cherish this memory because it reminds me that it’s OK to have fun and be joyful while refereeing.
What inspires you to continue being a match official?
Being a match official keeps me disciplined, and I love working with the crews I am assigned to referee with. We work hard and we push each other, but most importantly, we support each other on the bad days. I have never in my life had so many people cheering me on and helping me strive to be successful, and I can reach out to for anything, soccer-related or not, and I am honoured and grateful for the people that continue to support me on and off the field from this league.
Why should other people become an official?
People, especially teenagers, should become match officials because it teaches and develops abilities no classroom could ever accomplish, developing discipline, social and team work skills, and the ability to resolve conflict among various ages as well as analyse quickly and apply knowledge in real time scenarios.
It is so much more than just simply blowing a whistle and pointing in a direction. Without it, I would not have key attributes that are essential away from the field and I am for ever thankful for the experience that refereeing has brought me.