What’s it Like Being a Soccer Official in Aroostook County?
We wanted to know what it’s like being a soccer ref in the County, and it was easy to find out. We walked down the hall and sat down with Ryan Guerrette. He’s the Director of Sales here at Townsquare Media and has been officiating soccer for 8 years.
We talked to him about why he does it, how much fun it is, how he deals with the fans and players, and some of the details of being a part of the officiating team.
Staying Connected to High School Sports
“I've been involved in sports for a long time," Ryan said to us in his office. "Either as coaching or as the Athletic Director at Central Aroostook High School. When I finished as Athletic Director, I wanted to still stay connected to high school sports, and decided officiating would be a good way to do that.”
Ryan played soccer at CAHS from 1993-1996, “I played on some very good teams. I was a defender and played in the back.” He is now the Secretary Treasurer of the Northern Maine Board of Approved Soccer Officials.
Officiating is Fun
“I really enjoy it. A lot of the officials I've known for a long time, whether it was through coaching or other Athletic Directors. We have a lot of fun traveling to and from the games - It’s as much fun as officiating. In Aroostook County, we have a great group of people. They’re fun to work with. I can’t say there’s one person I haven't enjoyed working with.”
Soccer officials in the County cover a wide area, as far north as Fort Kent and Madawaska to Danforth and over to Katahdin. “I was in Fort Kent on a Monday. Easton on a Tuesday. Van Buren on a Friday night. Hodgdon on a Saturday. You go wherever you’re sent based on your availability.”
It’s Not about the Money
“Most people do it for either the love of the game or for exercise or for many different reasons. it’s extra spending money. It’s not the reason I do it. I just love to be around the game and enjoy working with the other officials. A lot of them are good friends of mine and have been for a long time. It's a chance for us to enjoy some time together.”
Ryan explained how officiating is a way to give back to high school sports. “High school sports was good to me. It was something I really enjoyed and some of my best memories came from high school sports. For me, it’s making sure kids can do that.”
Getting Assigned to Games
The assigner places each official at each game for all the schools in the County. “They have a lot of responsibility. Bob Stedt has been the assigner for many, many years. He’s a former school administrator and very connected to athletics. He places officials at soccer games each day based on their availability and level of the game.”
The Fans & Refs
When you go to a game, one of the things you might see is some of the fans giving the official a hard time. We asked Ryan about that.
“It’s not as bad as the perception of it is. One of the things I’ve always said is every time you blow the whistle, you’re only 50% right - half the people are not happy with your call and half the people are happy with it. That stuff really doesn’t bother me. Yes, there are bad fans and good fans, there’s no doubt about that. Their involvement in the game is minimal. To me, it’s not really a huge factor.”
Players and Officials
When the game gets a little intense, Ryan said he tries to "diffuse things before they happen, especially on the field. "I talk to the kids and explain something, like if there’s a hard collision. Players aren’t looking to hurt each other. They get a little heated or tangled up - just a few words to calm them down is all you have to do."
Keeping the game under control is the goal, "I was as heated as probably anyone playing. Soccer is a contact sport. There's going to be some pushing and shoving and there’s a legal way and a nonlegal way to do that. it’s just making sure that stuff doesn’t get out of hand and keeping things under control.”
We're There so the Kids can Play
“When I step onto the soccer field, I try to do my best. I want to look the part. Look professional and act professional. I hope that people think that when they see me as an official. We’re out there so the kids can participate more than anything. It doesn’t matter to us which team wins. We’re out there so the kids can play."