Ed. Note: Today we welcome guest blogger Matt Jackson to In The Opinion Of The Referee. Matt will be writing about his experiences as he worked toward his Grade 6 (State Referee) badge.
My name is Matt Jackson, and I am a R6 referee from Newnan, Georgia. I am an elementary school teacher in real life.
I started refereeing in 2008. My wife and I were driving my oldest son to referee soccer tournaments all around the metro Atlanta area. We quickly noticed his pocket full of cash and our empty gas tank. She and I both decided to get certified. We both spent one season with our R9 blue badges before upgrading to our R8 black badges. We spent several years working youth games and tournaments as a family, adding our other son and our oldest daughter to the refereeing ranks along the way. I upgraded to a R7 and started refereeing high school soccer in 2010. I started refereeing college soccer in 2011 and completed both my R6 upgrade and associate instructor course in 2012. I have worked NASL preseason, W-League, NPSL, WPSL, NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, US Soccer Developmental Academy, ECNL, R3PL, NFHS, and various youth level matches, as well as being named to the Georgia delegation for the 2012 Region 3 Championships. I also help coordinate the Olimpo City South referee training program. Two of my children still referee, and one is quickly climbing the ranks despite his young age.
So, referee upgrade, piece of cake, right? Take a look at these numbers and let them sink in for a minute:
By The Numbers: Matt’s Route to R-6
Quite a year, huh? These are the staggering numbers that I compiled during 2012 in search of my R-6 State Referee badge.
When In The Opinion Of The Referee asked if I would share my upgrade experience, I had no idea these numbers were indeed what I had put into a calendar year. No wonder I was tired all the time! Thank goodness that I did not know these totals while I was going through the process…
I guess that is the point of any upgrade cycle. It is truly a process. R-8s are not automatically going to be R-7s. R-7s and are not just going to get to a R-6. R-6s don’t just become R-5s or beyond. There is a transforming process for each step of the upgrade ladder. I thought I was good as a R-9 referee, for crying out loud! I naively thought I would get my R-6 upgrade assessments done quickly, easily, and early in the year. Boy, could that have been further from the way it actually happened.
Now that I am on this side of the process, though, I am amazed at the growth that I have gone through over the course of this and previous years. In fact, I was talking to a recently upgraded R-7 referee friend about this growth. He and I both remarked about how cool it has been to see our ability to read the game improve by such a noticeable degree through each of our upgrades. He and I also are looking forward to where that continued development will take each of us. We are not necessarily doing our respective upgrades for any kind of status, but we definitely want to see how far we both can develop our refereeing skills. That is the amazing part of future upgrades for me – how much better will I be then than I am right now.
Ahead in Part 2: Be Sure About Your Motivation