The Long and Winding Road to 10,000 Soccer Games
Youth Soccer News: Ref Randy Vogt has donated $10,000 to the U.S. Soccer Foundation in honor of his upcoming 10,000th game – this is a man who makes a difference, every day.
It has been said that a referee never has a home game. But this is negative thinking and I have officiated thousands of soccer games so, on fields that I have officiated a good deal, I could be more familiar with them and the surroundings than the home team. Plus I often see a friendly face on the field or on the touchline so, for me, more and more games seem like home games.
THIS IS SPECIAL – A DONATION OF $10,000 for 10,000 GAMES
I officiated at a field that I had never been to only four times in 2016 and five times so far this year.
When I started refereeing as a teen in 1978, I did two things that eventually became significant. First, I wrote a short note about each game. The games really added up and I officiated my 1,000th game while a senior in college at Parsons School of Design.
Second, when I checked the team passes, partly since I would know the players’ names, I introduced myself as Randy so they would know my name too. Even though Randy is a name for both males and females (generally spelled Randi or Randee for girls), it’s an uncommon name so it’s memorable as chances are, I’m one of the few Randy’s that the players, coaches and my referee colleagues knew. And it’s so much easier than Vogt as people do not know how to say it (like “Vote”) or how to spell it as the “gt” combination is unusual in English without an “h” following it or in-between the “g” and “t.”
Related Soccer News: THE 10,000 GAMES I HAVE OFFICIATED
So the extensive game count gave validity decades later to writing articles on officiating plus many people made a personal connection to me simply by knowing my name.
I advanced through the ranks in the 1980s when there were not nearly as many soccer games being played or as many refs.
Eventually, I made it to the pros but if you blinked while you were watching pro games, you probably missed me.
Teams and leagues went out of business and I was owed hundreds of dollars, which would be worth much more today, at a time when I was in my twenties and working to become financially independent of my parents. So I instead officiated youth, adult and college games, and eventually high school too, while concentrating on my Manhattan ad agency position at the time and never had to worry about getting compensated during my ad career. Going to work every day and doing well became my own personal World Cup and it still is in many ways.
In 1989, I saw that wonderful movie, “Field of Dreams,” and thought of some parallels between one of the characters, Archie “Moonlight” Graham, and myself. He played at the end of a June 29, 1905, game for the New York Giants baseball team but never came to bat and never had the ball hit in his direction in the right field. He was sent down to the minor leagues, never made it back to the majors and eventually found his calling as the beloved pediatrician for the Chisholm schools in Minnesota.
Working with colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, he published a study that changed the world’s understanding of pediatric blood pressure. While my contribution has not been as significant, I too found my calling but it was officiating the other levels of play.
Although my crazy dream of one day officiating in the World Cup or Olympics would never be fulfilled, I was pretty much okay with that but heard of an essay contest nominating people to become Olympic torchbearers for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. I really wanted to do it and marketed myself by working with a friend, who completed and signed the essay. I was thrilled when the US Olympic Committee selected me and my 15 minutes of flame carrying the Olympic torch down Main Street in New Rochelle, New York became one of the highlights of my life.
Two decades later, my game count is now over 9,950 and if I continue my current pace, barring a tragedy or serious injury, I would break 10,000 games in the next couple of months.
I thought about what I should do for this milestone game. Should I invite rock band 10,000 Maniacs to sing the national anthem? Should the game be played in Minnesota, a state where I have never officiated but known by its slogan of the Land of 10,000 Lakes?
No, I decided that this milestone game would simply be whatever I am assigned and I would treat this game like any other and not do anything special.
With one exception as in commemoration of this milestone game, I have donated $10,000 to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, a dollar for every game that I have officiated. This is by far the most I have ever donated to any nonprofit and, knowing that my 10,000th game would arrive one-day God-willing, I was saving up money for years, particularly regarding money I give to non-profits, so I could make this donation.
For those soccer fans not familiar with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, since its founding in the World Cup year of 1994, this non-profit organization has supported programs and field-building projects that provide youth in underserved communities with soccer programs that promote education, healthy lifestyles, and leadership. Through its programs, the Foundation helps children succeed both on and off the field.
The Foundation’s cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive by using soccer as a vehicle for social change. By increasing access to quality soccer programs and safe playing spaces to all kids, the Foundation is growing the game across the country.
It’s not believed that any current U.S. National Team players grew up playing on a field funded by the U.S. Soccer Foundation but chances are this will change in the future.
While my $10,000 donation to the U.S. Soccer Foundation is nice, I see this wonderful organization receiving much more than this amount for my milestone game.
Just as a person running a 5K or 10K race is looking for sponsors, I’m looking for soccer fans to help out, and see this more as a team effort. After all, my 10K was nearly four decades in the making and it’s a 10K for soccer fans.
Since I will have run tens of thousands of miles and travelled hundreds of thousands of miles in officiating what will soon be 10,000 games, I’m asking soccer fans to donate too and asking you to consider sending a tax-deductible donation made out to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, sending to U.S. Soccer Foundation, 1211 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036, Re: Ref Randy 10K. Please put Ref Randy 10K in the memo section of the check so it can be tracked.
Your donation would help grow the game in the United States while serving as an invaluable weapon against gangs, drugs, and obesity.
For those who donate $50 or more to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, I will gladly send a free, autographed copy of my book, Preventive Officiating, to your address. I’ll take your word for the donation as you need not send me proof and you can contact me about your donation by clicking here.
Randy Vogt, the author of Preventive Officiating and Public Relations Director of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association, has officiated over 9,950 games with his milestone 10,000th game coming up. He has donated $10,000––a dollar for every game––to the U.S. Soccer Foundation and he is asking soccer fans to consider making a contribution as well.