Randy reffing at TV Summers in 1978.
That summer, just after my 16th birthday, I volunteered as a coach for an intramural summer league, SYAC (Syosset Youth Athletic Council) Soccer. I coached a team, along with Mike Ritz, that wore yellow shirts, so we named them the Goal Rush. Our squad finished with a 1-4-1 record that summer.
It turns out that this was a relatively informal league and the coaches had to ref one half. I took over the ref duties for our team and quickly discovered that I was a much better ref than I was a coach.
Although I coached one more summer in SYAC Soccer (with the squad finishing 4-2-1) before the league folded a couple of years later, I was having fun as the ref and was pretty good at it too. So, I phoned Gordon and became an intramural ref in the Syosset Soccer Club.
My first games with the club were at the TV Summers School in the fall of 1978 with 10- and 11-year-old girls who played 11 vs. 11 back then. The field was a converted football field, 120 yards by 55 yards, with a soccer goal and a football goalposts on top. I refereed at TV Summers until June 1, 1980 and the school was demolished shortly thereafter so new homes could be built.
It's very interesting to me that the first league that I officiated in, SYAC Soccer, folded shortly thereafter and the main field I refereed at in my early days, TV Summers, was soon demolished. Yet I still keep on whistlin' four decades later.
My story is not unique, however, as I have heard all sorts of stories on how people become refs and many are accidental refs such as myself.
The story is usually how the ref did not show up and that person volunteered. Sometimes, it's the start of a lengthy officiating career. Sometimes, the novice ref is overwhelmed and decides officiating is not for him or her. But a lesson is learned and that person never complains about the officiating in the future.
So my questions for Soccer Americans who have become refs, how and why did you start?