Once upon a time, I refereed soccer matches because I both loved the game, and I loved being in charge. No. We don’t do it for the money. While reffing soccer matches brings in plenty of spare change, it isn’t a living here in the United States, yet. After one learns and grows, one learns to really appreciate the beauty of the game. Matches really are all about the players. Referees are merely caretakers of the Laws of the Game, and spectators are the reward.
Officially, my mileage for last week was not all that impressive. I skipped a day and only banged out three runs for a total of 11 miles. I woke up Saturday morning at 5:40 AM to get ready for my matches. Georgia State Soccer Park is on the southwest side of Atlanta, a fair distance from my house. Thanks to the interstate system, it’s really not that much further time wise then most of the other venues. I arrived a little early to see frost laden fields and young people bundled up and running. I stayed in my car for fifteen minutes before hitting up the port-a-potties.
Have you ever tried to use a port-o-potty when its sub-freezing out?
My first center of the morning was at 8 AM. It was a game I had “picked up” just in the last day or two. Six games in a tournament is a lot, but not unheard of. Seven is starting to push it. The 14/15 year old boys playing the match were not from the Atlanta area. At half time, one of the boy’s fathers came over to tell the crew how good he thought the officiating was, and how it was “refreshing”. We all chuckled at that and told him that we still had half a game left to turn it around.
It was a good start to the day, and that’s pretty much how the tournament went. After the sun came up, the gloves came off and it warmed up a bit. Not warm enough to ditch the long sleeves, but warm enough to lose the hat and the gloves.
I wrapped up my last game around five and headed straight home to shower, grab Dee Dee and head out to Alpharetta to meet up with Ryan the White Hot. Ryan brought his daughter Teegan down from North Carolina to visit the All American Girl’s store at North Point Mall. Is he a great dad or what? We enjoyed some fine cuisine and beers at Taco Mac before calling it a night. Teegan made it perfectly clear that she could only handle so much adult conversation :-)
After getting back home at a decent hour, it was back up at 5:40 AM to rinse and repeat. It was few degrees warmer out, but unlike Saturday, I had three games in a row, wrapping up right after lunch. My final game of the day was between two U-15 Elite girls teams, and they came to play. They were fast, skilled, and very well behaved. One team was just a little more skilled than the other, and the match ended with the best team winning.
This was one of those tournaments where not a discouraging word was heard. All of the parents, players, coaches and other spectators were on their best behavior, and it made for a fantastic weekend. This is the kind of experience that keeps me coming back.
And that whole thing about running? If my legs are any indication, the soreness says that I put at least twenty miles on them over the weekend. Yea, I’ll be hobbling a couple of more days, and I’ll try to speed up the healing process with a short recovery run tomorrow. Next weekend should be even better, weather wise, and I’m looking forward to hitting the pitch again, hard.