In a matter of weeks, 16-year-old Gilroy resident Allegra
Blea-Marinovich went from the classroom-type setting of
(six classes at three hours a pop with a 100-question test at
the course’s conclusion) to the main official of her first youth
In a matter of weeks, 16-year-old Gilroy resident Allegra Blea-Marinovich went from the classroom-type setting of “referee school” (six classes at three hours a pop with a 100-question test at the course’s conclusion) to the main official of her first youth soccer game.
When the assigned center referee for an under-8 game didn’t show up, Allegra was asked to fill in – she did not say no.
“I was nervous at first but then I just totally forgot about what I was doing and just did the game,” Allegra said. “I know the game so well, so I was kind of relaxed.”
From her timid beginnings sprang a successful weekend job that landed her Novice Referee of the Year honors in the Orchard Valley Youth Soccer League.
Allegra was recognized at an annual event organized by the San Jose Soccer Referee Association last month.
“I just love the game,” Allegra said. “I stopped playing, but refereeing is more fun.”
Referees who are starting out are usually first delegated to assistant referee duty to gain some on-the-field experience rather than being thrust into the center of the field right away.
Allegra’s quick adaptation to the job and proper interpretation of the rule book, were just two of the factors leading to her award.
“We have certain criteria that we use in selecting referees for nomination,” league president Tony Rodrigues said. “They have to wear the proper uniform, and how they present it is one. Their demeanor and how they act toward coaches and players is another”
With teams in both Gilroy and Morgan Hill, the OVYSL, which is one of 18 leagues in District 2, uses 80 to 85 working referees on a regular basis per season, Rodrigues said.
Each of the 18 leagues nominates one referee for each of the six categories that are up for grabs.
Allegra’s consistency throughout the fall season is what stood, Rodrigues said.
Although she made it through her first season, doing three or four games per weekend, it wasn’t always a stroll in the park for the rookie ref.
“There was an incident about a penalty kick,” Allegra said. “The coach was OK after a while, after I explained to him what happened. You have to try and do your best for the players during the game.”
Despite some of the stresses associated with wearing the stripes, Allegra said she has made a number of friends with some of the same interests, which makes the job even more enjoyable.
“I could do this my whole life,” she said.