I was a volunteer referee for my son’s soccer team and it was the most uncomfortable experience of my life. After the season was over I realized that when you push yourself to get just a little uncomfortable, good things can happen.
When the coach for this recreational league team said that they needed two volunteers from each team to go through referee training I thought, “great, there are at least 12 kids on this team, there will be tons of volunteers.” But no.
A few days before the deadline, the coach sent out another email with the news that there was only one volunteer. Without a second, there might not be home games because each team needed to provide two refs for the home games. So I did what most parents do in this situation. I ignored it and prayed to the parenting gods that another parent with actual soccer experience would step up. But no.
There’s another pleading email. I think that I can do this. So what if I don’t know the first thing about soccer? My kid’s team needs another ref, how hard could it be?
I have to say that the coach, the parents, and the other refs were fantastic. But the training was really hard and being a referee at the games caused me a lot of anxiety. Before the ref training I didn’t know the difference between a corner kick and a goal kick. I had no idea what ‘off-sides’ meant and the angst it can cause the parents watching. Those parents, the kids, the coaches… they watched with very different perspectives.
With the season over I can say the following:
· Good memories: My son and I will remember those days on the field when I was the ‘ref’, not just ‘mom’
· Know your audience: At the recreational level, parents and coaches are way more forgiving than at the competitive level
· Keep learning: Calling “off sides” is a science
And most importantly, what I really learned over those months was that even though I was so uncomfortable, I learned a lot about myself, and my son, and that experience together was worth it.
I also confirmed that my kid is continuing on in his soccer career, but I’m hanging up my neon green ref jersey.
I’m going to apply this to my professional career. Get a little outside my comfort zone. I know it’s common sense, but try something new and unexpected, because good things can happen.