Hopefully after today, I can hang up my official uniforms, flags, knee high socks and electronic whistles until the spring of 2021. I wasn’t really looking forward to working any games in 2020 once the lock down began, but realized that outdoor soccer on a big field was relatively safe as long as social distancing and mask wearing were followed. I took into account a number of at-risk officials for Covid-19 that were taking the whole season off and thought of ways to make doing games safer. Enter training with a mask for fitness. Remove a whistle that needs to be blown from the mouth. Add hand sanitizer to the back pocket. Record cards and goals on my Apple Watch with a soccer referee app. Since high school games in PA require all officials to blow whistles, I chose to use the electronic whistle. When it came to talking to players, coaches or cautions some traditional procedures were modified. Cards were issued more verbally and from around 10 yards away. Pregames were pre-recorded on YouTube or given on email to minimize any massless contact with my officiating teams. Conditioning this summer was all indoor doing intervals on the Peloton bike. The first night of the season was interesting as the difference from interval spinning to interval soccer woke up certain muscles that hadn’t been used in six months. While the cardio training from Jess King and Emma Lovewell was pretty good, the explosive muscles and pounding on the turf definitely gave my body a nice surprise that first night on Nate Ferraco Field.
Add in yoga, massage, foam rolling, massage gun, recovery rides on the bike, active recovery days in the gym and actual off days to physically make it through the condensed season. As of now my last game was on the turf at Highmark Stadium. Simple, sunny, slower turf, with a view of Downtown Pittsburgh and helicopters finding celebrations on Grant Street.
The other big thing of soccer season– the golf clubs were put away and the paddle board sessions limited. The little neck/lat injury helped put those away early as well as taking time to call Kentucky in a losing effort.