Our Referee of the Year

         District-7 Recreation“Referee of the Year”  Shelby Baird

Shelby's Komments: 

It is All for the Kids and the Love of the Game.”  

Part of the problem with the youth games that I’ve worked and been exposed to is the lack of understanding between the coaches, parents, spectators and the referees. It always seems like everyone expects all referees to be robots. To make all the right calls, do all the right things. 

The reality is we are human too; we make mistakes just like everyone else does. We try to make the right calls and do a good job but we aren’t always going to be correct. However, I must stress that the referee is always right, whether we are actually correct with our call or not. Even as a player I knew not to argue a call with the referee. Once they made the call and decided that was the end of it, whether I agreed with it or not.

So I find myself wondering why I have been yelled at literally dozens of times. I have been yelled at by not only the coaches but also the parents. Sometimes I would provide a simple explanation and the problem was taken care of. Other times the yelling and complaining would continue. I think we all just have to remember that we are all there for the kids and the game should be fun for them. The game shouldn’t become a screaming match. 

Being a referee isn’t all bad though. I have had many good experiences. I get to watch kids play the game I love, the game I played at some of the same places I referee. I get to travel and see new places. I really enjoy my job and take pride in what I do.

Many people have come up to me and told me I am crazy to referee and they don’t see how I do it, but I love it. Through all the yelling and problems I’ve had to deal with the good outweighs the bad to me. 

If you’re a referee you know that you will have to deal with certain problems but that’s just part of the job. Overall I think if parents and coaches could have a better understanding sometimes it would be helpful. 

I would encourage all coaches, parents and spectators to look up information about the rules of the game and league rules. Whether it is a league handbook, coach’s handbook or the USSF Referee handbook. The more information you know the better. Being properly informed of certain rules about the game and rules of where you are at would be beneficial to all and would hopefully bring understanding to some of the calls the referees have to make. In closing I just would like to remind everyone that, ‘It is All for the Kids and the Love of the Game.”

Article by State Recreation Coach of the Year


As coaches, the overall priority for what we teach our youth needs to be core technical development and training, despite the age group, gender, or skill level we are working with.   The essentials of technical development are found in Koach Karl’s “Five (5) Consecutive R’s” of Attacking and Defending

Attacking R’s:

  • Read the Game
  • Run to Attack 
  • Receive the ball
  • Retain the ball  
  • Release the ball 

Defending R’s:

  • Read the Game
  • Run to Defend 
  • Ready Stance
  • Reject Advancement
  • Regain ball Possession

Too many players do not receive a strong enough emphasis on these fundamentals in their early years of youth soccer and later on find themselves overcome by the need to be super-aggressive and win the match at all costs. 

For a young player, this can lead to frustration, a diminishment of what is supposed to be fun, and potentially a premature end to their soccer days.  I have seen this happen to too many of my teammates during the late-elementary to junior high school years.  With the proper investment in core technical development and training, the scores and victories are guaranteed to take care of themselves.

MICHAEL CALVILLO, District 7 Recreation Coach of the Year (2015). State CYSA-North Recreation Coach of the Year (2015)

Editor’s Note:  Look for more detailed articles on this subject from OUR State Recreation ‘Coach of the Year’ in future Komments..!

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Exciting NEWS!

VPR - Golden Mike Award Winner 

“Valley Public Radio has picked up Three (3) Golden Mike Awards from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California,” wrote Rick Bentley in his Fresno Bee column ‘TV & Radio’ on Thursday, February 19, 2015.  “They were winners at the 65th annual awards ceremony, held in late January in the ‘Best Investigative Reporting,’ ‘Best Light Feature Reporting’’ and ‘Best Business and Consumer Reporting’ categories.” 

You can learn a lot more about VPR on their website at:   http://kvpr.org/  

Coaching Corner

Core Values for Your Team

By Sal M. Blanco

I am a firm believer that every team should have a set of core values. Yes, even with younger age groups and even if you will just have the players for a limited time.

The idea is not an original idea, but comes to me from many coaches (i.e., Anson Dorrance, John Wooden, John McKay etc.). A list of core values I believe can help your players be successful in soccer and in life. It sets some basic concepts that our players many times do not learn at home.

Coach Dorrance for example asks his players to grade themselves and their teammates, each year, on the extent to which they embody the core values.  He also requires them to memorize the core value quotations and he tests them in front of the team and in every player conference (obviously these concepts are for older players, but you may modify the format for younger players). 

Coach Dorrance challenges his players to commit to accomplishing something great—for the team and for themselves—and following a set of common values has helped to create a winning culture both as a soccer team and more importantly-in life. Here are his set of core values. My recommendation is that you adopt them for your own team:

Let's begin with this, we don't whine. This individual can handle any situation and never complain about anything on or off the field.

We work hard.  This individual embodies the "indefatigable human spirit" and never stops pushing herself. She is absolutely relentless in training and in the match.

The truly extraordinary do something every day.  This individual has remarkable self-discipline, does the summer workout sheets from beginning to end without omission or substitution, and every day has a plan to do something to get better.

We choose to be positive.  Nothing can depress or upset this powerful and positive life force -- no mood swings, not even negative circumstances can affect this "rock".

When we don't play as much as we would like we are noble and still support the team and its mission.  This remarkably noble, self-sacrificing, generous human being always places the team before herself.

We don't freak out over ridiculous issues or live in fragile states of emotional catharsis or create crises where none should exist. The best example is the even-keeled stoic that is forever unflappable. The worst example is the "over-bred dog," that high maintenance, overly sensitive "flower" that becomes unstable or volatile over nothing significant.

We are well led.  This is the verbal leader on the field that is less concerned about her popularity and more concerned about holding everyone to their highest standards and driving her teammates to their potential. This person competes all the time and demands that everyone else do as well!

We care about each other as teammates and as human beings.  This is that non-judgmental, inclusive friend that never says a negative thing about anyone and embraces everyone because of their humanity, with no elitist separation by academic class, social class, race, religious preference, or sexual orientation.

We play for each other.

This is the kind of player that works herself to death covering for all of her teammates in the toughest games. Her effort and care (her verbal encouragement) make her a pleasure to play with and her selflessness helps everyone around her to be a better player.

We want our lives (and not just in soccer) to be never ending ascensions - but for that to happen properly our fundamental attitude about life and our appreciation for it is critical.

This is that humble, gracious high-achiever that is thankful for everything that she has been given in life, and has a contagious generosity and optimism that lights up a room just by walking into it.

And we want these four years of college to be rich, valuable and deep.

This is that focused individual that is here for the "right reason" to get an education. She leads her life here with the proper balance and an orientation towards her intellectual growth, and against the highest public standards and most noble universal ideals, she makes good choices to best represent herself, her team, and her university.

The last one on the list can easily be adapted to high school or any other age group. Moreover, you do not need all of the components of the list. Take what you need and add as you deem appropriate for your team and to suit your own personality.

Sal Blanco

Cal-N D7 Coaching Director, USSF “C”, NSCAA National Diploma, NSCAA Advance GK Diploma

Referee Corner

Referees Face a Tough Road By Pat Ferre 

Parents and spectators should realize that “new” officials on the fields are in training.  Whether they are working their first game or have been around for a few seasons, these officials still have a lot to learn when it comes to making split second decisions dealing with the activities of players on the field and the different personalities of coaches and spectators along the sidelines. 

Most people will understand that players need, even before their first match, much repeated coaching, lots of practice, positive feedback and a nurturing environment in order to stay interested in the activity, improve and grow. 

Where, but during actual games, do new officials have the opportunity to practice what they were taught in the classroom and learn to deal with real game experiences? 

Unfortunately, new officials are seldom provided those valuable learning opportunities until they are assigned to an actual game.  Beyond the initial basic instruction provided in a classroom situation, the new officials must rely mostly on their on-the-job experiences and any feedback they receive from fellow officials and assessors in order to mature and grow. 

Players are generally forgiven for making mistakes, even the most costly ones, yet officials are often openly and ruthlessly belittled, degraded and embarrassed for even the most insignificant decision be it for a call or a non call made. 

Should those same critics not be treating the referees who make mistakes in the same way as they treat the players?  Players have scheduled practices lead by coaches and yet mistakes are made on game days.  Referees like players will make mistakes which, like the players’ mistakes, should be looked at as a learning experience and a fact of life. 

In the early years of their avocation, many officials have been known to stop refereeing before being given a chance to mature and learn.  The repeated criticism, complaints, put downs, negative comments and in some cases threats are the leading causes of an official’s decision to quit. 

The next time you are at a game, think of the numerous duties and  responsibilities of the referees and before being too quick to criticize, question or embarrass, what would you say if it was your player or your child in that position? 

Pat Ferre, USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus,USSF Referee Instructor,USSF Referee Assessor,USSF Referee Assignor,District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)



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District News

“Free” Coaching Courses

Hosting League: Visalia Youth Soccer Association

Date:  Sunday, March 8, 2015

Time:  9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Team #1 (U16+):  9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Team #2 (U16+):  10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Location:  Riverway Sportspark, Field 6,  3611 N. Dinuba Hwy., Visalia 93292.  

Topic: Defense--working the ball through the middle (shift and cover with the back four).  


Hosting League: Clovis Junior Soccer League

Date:  Sunday, April 19, 2015

Time:  9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Team #1 (U16+):  9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Team #2 (U16+):  10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Location:  Valley Oak Elementary, 465 East Champlain Drive, Fresno, CA 93730

Topic:  Offense---Changing the Point of Attack 

Questions?  Contact Sal Blanco, D-7 Coaching Admin. At: sblanco@wctlaw.com

Did You Know???

Did You Know?             

In Search of Youth Soccer…

The purest form of youth soccer -- maybe it is really the only form -- is street soccer. With its own rules, invented by the boys, without coaches or referees, anarchic but functional, plenty of appalling language but not (as I recall) much rough play, chaotic but with its sudden surprising moments of joyful teamwork.

The sport belongs to the city, my city, to its grubby streets, to the houses with their vulnerable windows, to the dusk as the sun drops slowly -- over there, behind the gas works -- and the streetlights take over, and mothers’ raised voices let you know it’s supper time.

I don’t recall that we banned adults, but their absence seemed to be tacitly accepted as the natural state of things. I can’t recall adults ever being around. Street soccer belonged to the boys.

Why shouldn’t boys be left to organize and play their own soccer, just for those few magical years? Why ever not -- after all this is nothing important, this is just a game, something you play at. It is also serves the rebellion of youth, the strong desire to be troublesome, to give adults the finger and not do what they command.

But ‘sivilization’ is at work. The adultification of children and their soccer proceeds apace. It gathers speed because playing pro soccer can now be a massively money-making career. Hence the youth-development industry. With all the money to be made from training and discovering young players, it makes no sense to leave things to chance, to just let boys be boys. They must be not only adultified, but academized and curriculummed and computerized too.

One wonders: How much room does all that organization and instruction leave for the boy-life spirit that is recognized as the heart and soul of street soccer? Virtually none, I’d say. But surely street soccer, a vanishing activity thanks to the rampaging automobile, still has a sturdy spirit to pass on to modern-day youth soccer? You would think so. But it turns out that the modern youth-development movement is not interested. The life-blood of street soccer, that it was strictly a boy-life game, is rejected immediately.

Youth development is now a serious business. It has to be well programmed, so adults are needed. And here they come, armies of them, all with impressive coaching badges and specialized knowledge that they pump into young teenagers at an age when the boys should be simply enjoying their soccer, should not be pestered with arcane formulae for better performance.

That process -- the one that turns boy-life into adult-life before the boys are ready for the switch -- is what youth development is now all about. It cares nothing for this vague, romanticized item called youth soccer. Did it ever exist, anyway?

I am quite certain that no youth team will ever come out of any academy, anywhere. The boys are being taught, younger and younger, to behave and play like mini-pros. There is no time now for anything that can be truly be called youth soccer. It is all falling under the control of the ever-clever adults.

Well, so what? If this youth-development binge produces the players, then who cares? Of course the academies and so on are producing players, plenty of them. But something is certainly missing. Where are the exceptional players? Considering the millions of dollars -- it may even be billions by now -- that circulate in the youth development industry, surely there ought to have been a noticeable increase in the number of exceptional young players.

I have failed to notice any increase, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Not long ago a gathering of top UEFA coaches pinpointed the virtual disappearance of street soccer as a setback to the production of skilled players. UEFA, in fact, has an “Introduction to Street Soccer” section on its website.

There have been plenty of efforts by coaches to recreate the world of street soccer. None successful, as far as I know. Hardly surprising when coaches involve themselves in an activity that never had any use for them.

This is the major fault-line that bedevils youth development. On the one hand, it is an industry that works towards eliminating genuine youth soccer as a natural stage in the development of young players. But on the other, it can hardly be unaware that the street soccer it is helping to kill off was a crude but very efficient way of producing outstanding players. Perhaps more efficient than all the sophisticated techniques of the modern youth developers.

A nice contradiction, and one that will not be resolved until the experts admit that they don’t really know very much about what it takes to produce exceptional players. It is evidently a delicate and intricate and very personal process, not one that lends itself easily to the money-making values of an industry, nor to the strict disciplines of a curriculum.

A youth development program that pays attention to intrinsic but unruly youth values, and ceases trying to replace them, far too early, with more amenable adult attitudes -- that sounds like an idea worth trying. It also sounds like a request to development coaches to weaken their control over their young charges, which probably makes it an impractical, if not ludicrous, suggestion.

Rinus Michels said, or is alleged to have said, that the best way to coach young boys is not to coach them. Another non-starter for the development industry. But they might want to consider the ramifications, some of them outlined above, of another Michels comment on the nurturing of young players: “Street soccer is the most natural educational system that can be found.”

Note:  (Read In Search of Youth Soccer Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE)

Smiles - just for Laughs

A Very Special Player 

A youth coach decided his team would be better and more fun if it had a pet on it.

So he went to the sports equipment store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet to be on his team. 

After some discussion, he finally bought a talking centipede, (100-legged bug), which came in a little white box to use for his house.

He took the box back home, found a good spot for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to the soccer field with him. So he asked the centipede in the box, "Would you like to go to the soccer field with me today? We will have a good time." 

But there was no answer from his new pet. 

This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked again, "How about going to the soccer field with me and meet some of your team mates?  

But again, there was no answer from his new pet and potential player. So he waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation. 

The coach decided to invite the centipede one last time. 

This time he put his face up against the centipede's house and shouted, "Hey, in there! Would you like to go to the soccer field with me and learn some dribbling tricks?".....YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS ....... 

This time, a little voice came out of the box, "I heard you the first time! Yes, I want to go with you –but- I'm putting my shoes on!"