Although cheesy, my High School yearbook quote was "It's better to stand alone for the right reasons, than be together for the wrong." Very melodramatic, I know. I've always been someone who wanted to do the right thing, even if it meant alienating me or putting me in a difficult situation.
My dad was an engineering professor and my mother was an art, theater and dance teacher. They were always standing up in front of people, so it just came naturally to me. Whether I was on stage acting in plays, in student government positions, being a smart ass in class or a leader on the field in sports, I was always comfortable standing up and saying what I felt.
Getting into refereeing just seemed natural to me. I'm comfortable being in the middle of contentious situations and I was, and proudly still am a nerd for rules. I was played rugby as soon as I started college. And although I absolutely loved it, after 3 years playing, and taking vicious hits as a 5' 9", 145 lb. Fly Half, I started to get burned and worn out. Luckily, I could stay connected to the team and game by referring scrimmages for my club. I really enjoyed being back on the pitch and I decided to get properly certified.
If you are not familiar with Rugby, you may be thinking that would be an awful sport to ref, but it's not. The respect shown to officials is almost unmatched in any other physical sport in the world. The ref is addressed as "Sir". Only the captains are supposed to address the ref. It showed me that you can officiate a very competitive and physical game, but still have respect for the officials facilitating the match.
After college, life happened. I moved to Atlanta. Got married to my lovely wife of almost 20 years. Had 3 kids, now aged 17, 15 and 13. And have had numerous jobs flying me all over the world. The thought of reffing again never really occurred to me through my first 15 years after college.
Then, when my son was 10 years old (the minimum age is now 13), he decided he wanted to be a soccer referee. We both loved the game. He had been playing since he was 3 and I had coached him most of those years. I figured, if I am going to be driving him to the fields, I might as well get certified too!
What a wonderful decision that was. I have learned so much about the beautiful game, life and what it means to be a leader. It has brought me so much joy and challenged me in so many ways. Refs Need Love Too is an opportunity for me to give back to the community that has given me so much.