I have given my heart to the game, and it is time to retire. With a heavy heart, I announce my retirement as the State Youth Referee Administrator and State Referee Administrator. Most of you know this position in Indiana as the Director of Officials.
I have been the State Youth Referee Administrator and State Referee Administrator in Indiana for over 22 years. I believe it is time to allow new blood to lead the charge of the referee administration and development.
I have always wondered why people at the top of their careers stay just a little too long. I am retiring on top of my game with proven success and achievements in the referee program and specifically helping the advanced referees achieve their desired goals.
Our results over the years highlight how the Indiana referee program has grown to become recognized as one of the best in the country. Here’s a few things I’m especially proud of our group for accomplishing in just 2022 alone:
- Indiana now has two Assistant Referees working professionally in the MLS
- Indiana now has three referees working the professional USL Championship
- Indiana now has 22 referees working in the professional USL Second Division
- Indiana has close to 45 referees working MLS Next and MLS Next Pro games
- Indiana now has two National Referees, with two more invited to the 2023 National Camp. The groundwork has been finalized, and Indiana will have four National Referees by the end of the National Camp in December.
- 11 Indiana Referees were selected and invited to President's Cup National and the National Cup Series where we had referees in semifinal and final positions.
- Indiana had the 1st ever adult woman referee a professional game
- Indiana had the 1st ever 16-year-old girl work as an Assistant Referee in a professional game.
- We currently have 2,845 registered referees, with an additional 87 referees in the process of finalizing their SafeSports or the Concussion Awareness training to be officially ready to referee in Indiana
- After Governor Pence signed SB153 on April 13, 2013, we had a historic accomplishment in lowering the age requirement to referee in Indiana, allowing more accessibility for our youth to become referees and gain valuable life skills. Thanks to Matthew Burkart's efforts to help convince legislators that 12-year-old kids deserve an equal opportunity to earn money and gain valuable leadership skills in the process.
These are just a few of the successes over the years. The referee development program went from paper registration, overhead slides projections, and manual grading referee tests to automation and using the latest technology in training, mentoring, and referee coaching.
With that said, our accomplishments as an organization over the years is something I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of. In the past few months, Dave Guthrie and I have been talking about a five-year plan for me to retire. I have spoken with potential people on my staff or mentors to step into my role.
Well, God always has better plans than ours. This Summer and Fall, some things have changed in my life, so it became apparent that I would need to move up the timeline. Here are a few of the reasons that I have moved it up my retirement:
- At the Midwest Regionals National Championship Series hosted by Indiana, I collapsed while my team and I set up the referee tent. Joleen found me between the tables after an extended time on the ground. I spend a few days in ICU (Tony Crush, thank you for visiting me and spending some time with me). Because I love the game and we are hosting the Midwest Regional event, I found some strength and was able to come back and watch some of the Indiana Referees on Semi and Final games. I was very proud of the Indiana Referees selected to work Semi and Finals.
- At the U. S. Futsal Nationals in California at the end of July, I felt pain in my chest while helping prepare the courts for the games. I hid my pain and managed to stroll for the 4-day event and returned to Chicago to go to the Adult Region II Tournament of Champions. I was a couple of days early, so I stayed with my son Tyler, who lives there.
- The pain in my chest continued, so my son took me to the ER in Chicago
- I had a Quadruple Bypass, Open-Heart surgery that was successful, and now I am recovering.
- There were a few complications, and I went to Riverview Hospital. The Cardiologist strongly recommended that I scale back
The volunteer job I am retiring from as the State Referee Administrator and State Youth Referee Administrator is not easy. It requires 100% attention to the administration of the referee program.
One would say that I have literally given my heart to this volunteer job and the game of soccer. But, due to my health, I feel my energy and passion may have diminished, and the job requires more than what I can provide.
I would like to thank the many who helped me make the referee program in Indians successful. I have cultivated many friends throughout 22 years. They say it's best not to mention names because you will forget someone, and they may not appreciate it. However, I will thank a few by names because they
have helped me and improve the referee development program in Indiana:
- Joleen Yasa, Clinic Coordinator and Office Administrator
- Tyler Yasa, I may have missed some of his events because I was too involved in my duties as the State Referee Administrator and traveled due to soccer
- Bob Gibson, Registrar, and Treasurer. One of the original icons on the SRC
- David Friend, Secretary and Risk Management Officer (Was also the State Director of Mentoring)
- Thom Parks, State Director of Assignors
- Eric Hench, Director of Referee Development (was also State Director of Instruction, replacing Rick Balak
- Abiodun (Abby) Okulaja, Director of The Elite Referee Academy and National Assignor
- Eric Cox, former State Director of Instruction (was also State Director of Mentoring)
- Rick Balak, former State Director of Assessment (was also the State Director of Instruction and the Chairman of the Referee Committee)
- Mark Gordon, Assistant Registrar
- Tim Gies, former State Director of Assessment and Director of the Referee Academy
- Danial Nava, former State Referee Administrator
- Bob Abbott, former Registrar
- Ann Cline, former Secretary, and Treasure
District Referee Administrators – Thank you:
- Jan Cox, former District 1 Administrator
- Ismail Attallah, District 1 Administrator
- Mark Gordon, District 2 Administrator
- Jeanie Wilt, District 3 Administrator
- Thom Parks, District 4 and 6 Administrator
- Dilip Voya and Brian LaVelle, District 5 and 10 Administrator
- Bruce Carlsdete, Districts 7 and 12 Administrator
- Matt Hirsch, District 8 Administrator
- John Catt, former District 8 Administrator
- Teresa Knear, District 9 Administrator
- Ali Banane, District 11 Administrator
- Steve Chalko, District 13 Administrator
From Indiana Soccer, thanks to:
- Dave Guthrie, former President and current Executive Director
- Gus Chikamba, Digital Communications Manager
- Beth Matters, Accounting Manager, and Administrative Assistant
- Murray Clark, former President
- Don Rawson, former Executive Director
- Sarah Cantwell, Members' Relation Manager
From U.S. Soccer, thank you to:
- Rick Eddy, Director of Referee Development, was a great help as we navigated through some challenging times with the changes.
- Esfandiar "Esse" Baharmast, former FIFA Referee and World Cup referee. Esse was also the former
Director of Referee Development.
- Alfred Kleinaitis, former U.S. Soccer National Director of Instruction and FIFA Referee Region II Youth – Thank you, Bob Hart, Francisco (Chico) Villarruel, Tony Crush, and the Region II advisory committee. Their support during the regional and national events was outstanding. The Indiana Referee Program became successful because of your help and contribution to the mentoring program at the events. Thank you all for your support and for recognizing the significant improvements in the Indiana Referee Program, and for giving the Indiana Referees the opportunities at Regional and National events.
Official Sports International – Julie Tobin. Your support of the referee program in Indiana and the State Referee Committee has elevated the professional look of the referees.
This is a retirement announcement, not a thank you letter; however, I can't just leave the game without saying thank you to the many that contributed to my success and the success of the Indiana Referee Program.
Now, it is time for me to retire and focus on my health, maybe write a book about some part of soccer that many don't see much of or know much about.
My last day as the State Referee Administrator and the State Youth Referee Administrator is September 30, 2022. It has been an honor and privilege to serve Indiana and the game that I love so much. Here’s to new adventures.