LHSOA State Championship Soccer Officials
An attorney, high school math teacher, police officer, and engineer among those scheduled to referee title games
This week the LHSAA is hosting the All-State Sugar Bowl Soccer State Championships at Strawberry Stadium on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA.
While the event features some of Louisiana’s most successful high school soccer players and top-ranked teams, it also showcases a roster of elite officials the LHSAA selected to referee these championship matches.
Although officiating state championship games is a difficult task, the best referees make it look easy. But there’s more involved than just buying a uniform and whistle. The refs train, take tests, and receive feedback about their officiating performances. Just like student-athletes set goals and strive to reach the title game, LHSOA soccer officials work hard throughout the season to earn their championship assignments.
The referees assigned to work matches this week are regular people with ordinary day jobs: attorney Darrin Browder, high school math teacher and Caddo Parish High School Teacher-of the-Year Courtenay Dean, police officer Tyler Mitcham, and engineer Abdou Ndiaye.
Darin Browder is a lawyer in New Orleans, LA
Why do you officiate? Browder- I became a referee because I wanted to give back to the game that I love. Once I became a referee, I fell in love with the game in its purest sense --I don't care who wins or loses. I care more about the integrity of the game remaining pure. Once I blow the whistle to begin the game, nothing else matters but that game. Dean- I grew up in a large soccer family that spent most weekends at the fields. When I entered high school, I first saw it as a way to earn some extra money. As the years have passed, it has become a place where I have developed life-long friendships and a deeper passion for the game. Mitcham- I became a referee at the age of 12. Something I enjoyed and for a 12-year-old, $50 seemed like a million dollars. Since then, I fell in love with it and it is my hobby/second job. Ndiaye- I have always been passionate about the game of soccer. I played in college and wanted to experience a different perspective of the game. It is a way to stay connected to the game.
Courtenay Dean is a high school math teacher in Shreveport, LA.
Describe what it’s like to work a state championship. Browder- It is very difficult. The teams are often evenly matched and as the match referee, you must be physically and mentally in the game for the entire match. There is no tomorrow for many of the senior players. This will be the end of their soccer career, and this game means everything to them and their family. Many times, the referee has never seen these teams play and it will take a while to figure out team tendencies. While it is a challenge, there is no better feeling when the final whistle blows knowing you have done your best! Dean- It is an honor to be selected to be one of the officials at the soccer state finals. All of the teams have worked extremely hard to be there, and there is always a huge adrenaline rush when the first whistle blows. You always want to give every minute maximum effort and ensure that the game is safe, fair, and most of all fun! Mitcham- There is nothing else to match the thrill of a final assignment. Bigger crowds, best of the best players, good soccer, best of the best referees. Only one game like this a year, and it doesn’t happen every year. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment because you never know if or when you will get a finals assignment again. Ndiaye- It is truly an honor to be selected to officiate in one of the state finals and to experience the energy and passion the players will bring. Tyler Mitcham is a police officer in Lafayette, LA.
Tell us about your profession and how refereeing supports it. Browder- The game of soccer is governed by laws just like in everyday life. In my day job, I teach others how the law governs the criminal justice system and help to ensure the players in the criminal justice system also play by the law. Dean- When I am not on a soccer field, you can find me in my classroom teaching Algebra I. As a referee, I always must stay calm, be fair, maintain order, and have a sense of humor. These are skills that I use daily in my classroom. Mitcham- I have been a police officer for 10+ years. I am currently assigned as a School Resource Officer at a middle school. When I became an officer, my experience as a referee helped me with communication with the people I dealt with at work. Now, my experiences as both a police officer and as a referee help me in the other profession. Ndiaye- I am an engineer and make decisions on a regular basis for the safety of employees and the profitability of the company. In the same way, when refereeing I quickly make decisions on the field to ensure players are safe and enjoy the game.
Our LHSOA officials are passionate about refereeing soccer and supporting their communities. They provide a valuable service to our member schools and play an important role in supporting safe, fun, and fair environments for our student-athletes. We hope to see you in Hammond this weekend!
Interested in becoming an official? Visit lhsoa.com & click Become an Official