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New York ref hits 8,000-game milestone

Syosset, N.Y., referee Randy Vogt officiated his 8,000th game last Saturday when he served as assistant referee for an Arch Capital Challenge Cup U-15 girls quarterfinal (Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association). Vogt took up the whistle back in 1978, shortly after his 16th birthday. He has reffed all levels of soccer, officiated in some of the globe's great soccer stadiums, and has been honored with eight officiating awards in three countries (USA, USSR, Italy).

As a teenager, Vogt had the foresight to write a quick note after every game and he eventually realized that the games started adding up. He officiated his 1,000th game while a college student. Game No. 5,000 was nearly a decade ago. (Vogt's notes reveal, for example, that 36,101 goals were scored on his watch and that he officiated 568 games at the Mitchel Athletic Complex, Uniondale, N.Y.)

“No matter the game, whether it’s Boys Under-12, Division 8 or college teams, I take each game seriously because the players deserve a well-officiated match and a good experience,” said the 48-year-old Vogt. “The quantity of the games is nice but the fact that I gave 100% for every game is even better.”

His most memorable referee experience occurred in August 1991 when he traveled to Moscow along with the ENYYSA ODP and Eastern Pennsylvania ODP teams to officiate at Liberty Cup Moscow. The tournament coincided with the aborted military coup that briefly unseated Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. “I said to myself, ‘Last week I was watching Rocky IV at home on Long Island. Now I am living it.'" Vogt recalls.

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