Welcome to our stories page! Every soccer season, stories are created as players and families learn, grow, and experience memorable moments through youth soccer in San Ramon.
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Learn what it's like to be a teenage soccer referee | by Mike McGinley, August, 14, 2018
by Mike McGinley, August 14, 2018, San Ramon, CA
Increased self-confidence. Responsibility. Teamwork. Moreover, a paycheck.
These are a few of the benefits enjoyed by youth soccer referees.
I had the opportunity to interview youth referee, Preston Trager, a teenager who has played soccer for San Ramon FC for years. He is also a hard-working student who will be an 8th grader in middle school in San Ramon this fall.
Preston talked about his experience as a youth referee and we received a parent’s perspective from his mother, Mari Miller, too.
This fall, he will play in our club’s recreational program while also refereeing soccer matches on the weekends.
Getting started as a youth referee
According to Preston, his mom first had the idea for him to try refereeing.
His friend Marcos Perez is also a referee. He signed up online for an entry-level referee course. He completed the training in San Ramon and passed the required test. The referee course involves both classroom and on the field training.
To check for available referee courses in San Ramon, Danville, and other Bay Area cities, please click here: View referee classes in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To work as a referee, you also need to buy the referee uniform, flags, a whistle, and other equipment. Sometimes you can find "referee starter kits" online that include the uniform, flags, and all necessary items. You can also buy items from local stores, like Soccer Pro in Dublin. Soccer Pro also offers a 20% discount to members of San Ramon FC, which you can apply to referee items.
Additionally, referees need to wear a watch with a start/stop timer to keep time.
Tell us about your first match working as a referee
Preston said before the first match he felt “pumped” and after it was over, he felt “great.”
He worked as an assistant referee in his first match, which is typical for new referees, especially youth referees.
Since then, he has worked “a lot of matches, too many to count”; including work as a head referee for matches in the younger age groups.
Being a soccer referee and a soccer player
Soccer referees enjoy a flexible schedule and can choose which matches to work.
In terms of his weekend schedule, Preston can plan his refereeing work around his own team’s game schedule.
Preston’s referee experience helps him as a player on the field too. He can now see the match from the referee’s point of view and knows all the rules of the game.
Preston’s teammates think “it’s cool” that he is a referee. He said some of his soccer friends want to be a youth referee too.
His family thinks his referee job is great and his friends exclaim, “You get paid?”
Likes, dislikes, and a favorite referee moment
For starters, Preston said it surprised him that referee work “isn’t as easy as it looks.”
He likes working together as a team with other assistant referees. In terms of dislikes, he said, “sometimes the coaches.”
He shared this memorable moment with us:
“One of my favorite times [refereeing] was coming off the field hungry at 12 pm after doing 3 games and seeing all these yummy Subway sandwiches for refs. That made my day!”
A parent’s perspective
Preston’s Mom, Mari Miller, shared her thoughts about her son’s referee job.
“The referee job has helped him learn to work with adults, coaches, parents, kids, helped with his self-confidence and maturity, not to mention learning about money, banking, saving, ATM cards, how to purchase stuff online, etc.”
She continued by saying, “Also, [it gives him] the ability to purchase luxury items for himself, like his brand new Apple watch and high-end scooter.”
Will he continue refereeing?
Absolutely! In fact, Preston added more matches to his referee work.
On Mondays, he often referees two indoor matches at the San Ramon East Bay Sports facility. For those matches, he is the lone referee.
His favorite referee work has to be futsal though.
According to Mari, “Preston needed an additional 8-hour course and test to be able to referee futsal, which he took that class after the first season of outdoor, down in San Jose, last year.”
On Saturdays in the winter, he referees indoor futsal matches at San Ramon FC’s indoor futsal facility.
“He likes futsal referee work best, because there are two referees working the same game, one on each line. This makes it is easier than being a solo referee, which of course is more mental work. He prefers to work as a team with other referees,” Mari said.
By all indications, it seems that Preston has found a cool part-time job that works for him.
All jobs have positive and negative aspects to them and refereeing is no exception. For Preston, the positives of referee work outweigh any perceived negatives.
“I think he likes the social aspect and camaraderie of being part of a team of referees. He wants to referee more futsal games,” Mari said.
When we asked Preston if he had any tips or advice he can share with other boys and girls who are interested in being a referee, he had this to say, “Stick with your call. You are always right!”
How is that for increased self-confidence?
As a youth soccer club, we are grateful for referees who work at our outdoor matches and indoor futsal matches. Referees are indispensable and often in short supply.
We implore you: Always treat the referees with respect. Every referee. Every time.
Please remember referees are Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors.
From the perspective of many referees, disgruntled parents, players, and coaches are the biggest negative aspect of the job. You may not agree with every call, but they are doing their best to make the right call at a given moment.
Online resources for referees
2nd place finish in prestigious, nationally recognized summer tournament
Dear SRFC Families:
I wanted to use this opportunity to tell you about our 2002 Girls NPL team and their Surf Cup journey in the summer of 2018.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event, Surf Cup is the best tournament in the nation, and it is played in San Diego each year.
In many ways, Surf Cup is an unofficial National Championship, as the best teams from all around the country come to compete for the title. We at SRFC were fortunate enough to have a team qualify for the event.
The girls ended up competing in the Super White bracket, which was full of the very best ECNL teams; all of them ranked in the top 50 in the nation.
SRFC 2002G not only competed against the best teams in the country but ended up making it to the finals!
Here is how it all happened:
In our first game, we played against an ECNL team, Pride FC, the No 1 team in Colorado and 40th in the nation. We won 2:1.
In our second game, we played against an ECNL team, LA Breakers, the No 3 team in Southern California and 22nd in the nation. We tied 1:1.
In our third game, we played against the GPS all-star team, which consisted of the very best players from all of the GPS affiliated clubs in the nation. We won 4:2.
We finished our bracket with 7 points and qualified for the semi-finals. In that semi-final match, we were the 4th seed and played against the 1st seeded team.
The No1 seed team was Leahi SC from Hawaii, the No1 team in Hawaii and one of the top teams in the country. We won 3:1.
In the finals later that afternoon, it so happened that we again played against the same ECNL team we saw in the group stage, the LA Breakers. We lost 1:0.
We should all be extremely proud of the 2002 group and this accomplishment. It is one of the best - if not the best result - in the history of the SRFC girls program.
We are really proud SRFC gained national recognition as an elite club through our performance, and we opened the doors for future generations of teams from our club to attend this amazing event.
We had 50+ college coaches from all over the country attending our matches: Coaches who are now recruiting players for their colleges.
This result for our 2002 Girls team did not come overnight.
The team worked extremely hard to get to this level of play, and their journey started years ago when they were a bronze-level team.
There is a number of players who played on 2nd and 3rd teams for years before they were ready to join the 02G NPL team. Now they are some of our best players.
To achieve this type of a result, it all starts with players/families staying together through the tough times, and recognizing that SRFC is able to provide them with everything they need to be successful.
For all of us at SRFC, this experience should serve as a proof of concept that the ECNL status is not a guarantee of quality and it is certainly not a guarantee of player development.
It also proves that you have everything you need to succeed right here at SRFC.
We have proven our ability to develop players, and our ability to place players in college.
More then anything this result proves that SRFC is on the right track. As an organization, we are reaching new heights every day.
In its core, SRFC is about player development, not player recruitment!
There is a fundamental difference between the two concepts. The first one is about players getting better within the system, and the second one is about recruiting players from outside the system to make the system what it is.
As the Girls Technical Director, I am happy to tell you that we have one of the best coaching staffs in Northern California, and your/our players will be well taken care of.
Four years ago, our 2002 Girls played in the Vegas Showcase and lost to the same Hawaii Leahi team 6:0.
Our team stayed together, worked really hard, believed they could do it and went on to do it!
I hope this experience marks a new era in our club, an era in which SRFC players/families are honored to be a part our club/community, and wear the club's colors with pride!
#StayTogether #TrustTheProcess #BeProudToBeApart #SRFC
Girls Technical Director
An interview with Heather Salisbury, a Soccer Mom x 6 | by Mike McGinley, April 21, 2018
by Mike McGinley, April 21, 2018, San Ramon, CA
When families have multiple children involved in sports or extra-curricular activities, life can get interesting. When you have six children, all playing soccer on six different teams in one season, then life gets really interesting.
For Curt and Heather Salisbury of San Ramon, CA, and their six children, this is exactly what they did last fall.
All six Salisbury children participated in San Ramon FC’s Recreational soccer program.
Hoping to get some insights about their youth soccer experience and advice on how to manage it all, we reached out to Heather Salisbury with our questions.
Heather was kind enough to provide in-depth answers and gave us permission to share them with you.
Heather shares her thoughts on getting organized (Excel spreadsheets, anyone?), what qualities she most appreciates in a youth soccer coach (it is not a soccer IQ), and her advice for newer soccer parents.
Please read below for our questions and her answers.
Can you please confirm the spelling of your names? Also, please fill-in-the-blank, regarding your children’s ages.
Parents: Curt and Heather Salisbury
Children: Nicole (16), Isaac (13), Ryan (11), Heidi (8), Brett (7), and Amber (4)
Do either of you currently coach or serve as a team parent for a team?
We currently do not serve as a team parent or coach. Neither of us could coach because, during the week and especially on game days, we need the flexibility to be running all the kids around.
With any youth soccer parent, Saturdays involve getting their child fed, dressed, and to the field on time for their game. Please give us an idea of what your typical soccer Saturday is like.
Also, we are going to assume you have expertise with doing this. Please feel free to share any tips you have about getting youth players fed/dressed/ready for games.
First, we go over the calendar the night before, checking if there are discrepancies between what we entered on the calendar and what the team email reminders say.
Second, we make a plan of how to divide kids up depending on game times and locations, and, which parent is taking which group of kids. In the case of the one Saturday each season when there are games AND pictures, a spreadsheet is required with times blocked out for pictures and games and uniform colors etc.
I also make a list (write up or type) that the kids can see in the morning showing their game time and the color of uniform they need to wear.
Having the kids responsible for getting their own things together is huge.
We have a small bin in the garage for each kid where they keep their ball, shin guards, socks, shoes and uniform. We also marked each kids’ initials on their uniform tags, and shin guards so the kid who did not put his things away cannot take something from the kid who did.
No more “discussions” about whose shorts are whose. This year I decided that next year we are going to get water bottles ready the night before too.
You have children of different ages playing soccer, so you have a unique point of view. You can observe first-hand the similarities and differences with how children play soccer as they grow up.
Can you talk about any similarities/differences you see between your younger and older children playing soccer?
Similarities: They all look forward to the season and have fun while they are playing. They all like it when they have someone they know or a friend on the team. They all love to score.
Differences: My younger kids are more concerned about their snacks than whether they won or lost or how they played. As the kids get older they start caring more about how they played, details of specific plays that happened during the game and the outcome of the game.
Do you see any differences, generally speaking, between boys and girls, in terms of attitude, interest level, expectations, etc.?
I would say there are more differences just between different children and their personalities than between genders, as far as attitude and interest level. On the younger teams, definitely, the girls’ teams are a bit less aggressive on the field, but they learn.
Do you have any advice for new(er) soccer parents?
My advice for new soccer parents . . . do not push the kids too much. They have plenty of time to find a sport they like.
Being force fed something they do not want to do is not going to make them like it.
Let them try many different things. Get their input on what they would like to try.
For all parents, and I remind myself this all the time too, let the kids know you enjoy watching them play.
You have two older children who are playing. Studies show many kids drop out of organized youth sports by age 13.Our club offers teams and leagues for children through age 18.
What have you done to encourage your kids to keep playing, as they get older?
Not much. I think they genuinely enjoy being active and playing. I think, generally speaking, if you start letting them try many things when they are young, they will find something they enjoy and being active becomes part of everyday life.
Our older kids do not have iPhones and electronics are pretty minimal in our home.
While children may want to play, often the parents first introduce them to a sport. Did either parent play youth sports and/or youth soccer in their childhood? Do you, Curt and Heather, try to stay active as adults through running, yoga, adult soccer, or other activities?
We both played many sports starting from kindergarten on, high school teams included. We both played youth soccer, baseball, and basketball through middle school. My husband moved his freshman year of high school and that played a role in his sports participation. I played volleyball, basketball, and softball and track in high school.
After high school, I had a roommate who got me into long distance running, so I have continued to do that. It is something fairly simple to do with kids and I have been pushing little ones in a running stroller forever!
Prior to moving here a few years ago, I have always played on a city-league softball team as well. Adult soccer? Where? Sign us up.
With six games in one day, it can be logistically hard for two parents to see them all. If you “divide and conquer”, so to speak, between the two of you, how often are you able to attend six games? If it is not possible, do you try to rotate your attendance evenly? Alternatively, do you have other friends or family who can attend to support your child?
That is one thing I wish were different. I really would love to watch every game of every child, but it is not possible. We do not have family nearby.
Between the two of us, we try to make sure that we each get to see several of each child’s games throughout the season.
During a few seasons, we have had a friend on the team and we have been able to carpool to one of the kids’ games, but not every season. Occasionally, we will be at the same fields as someone we know and there are times when we can help each other out with rides home or something.
With multiple kids playing youth soccer for several seasons, you have experienced a variety of personalities and styles when it comes to coaches.
Without naming names, what qualities or characteristics do you like best in a youth soccer coach?
Positivity without a doubt.
There is always a way to give instruction in a positive way, even when a mistake has been made.
Kids respond much better, want to improve/change try harder when you let them know they are a valued team member, coaches are respectful to them, AND when coaches expect respect in return.
I was also extremely impressed by a coach this year that was not even my child’s coach but the two teams practiced at the same time and location and often scrimmaged.
This coach knew my child’s name from the scrimmages, would give praise when it was deserved to all, made an effort after practice to point out the strong points of the child’s game, and even filled in for my child’s team when their coach was unexpectedly absent.
Another year one of our kids had a parent coach who did not know much about soccer, had not even ever played. My child still had a great year because of how supportive and encouraging this coach was.
As a parent, and when I played as a child, I really like it when the coaches are active and play with kids too. I think it’s good for the kids to see adults enjoying the game, being active and also doing whatever the requirements are (running , showing them how to execute a drill etc.)
Thank you to Heather, Curt, and their children for participating in this interview and providing us with their photo. We are grateful to their family and all of the families in San Ramon who have chosen our club as their home for soccer.
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