Success in Second Annual MSRC Awards Night

July 17, 2004 - More than one hundred and ten people joined in honoring the ten award recipients of 2004 in a wonderful celebration. For the second year, the Massachusetts State Referee Committee hosted the celebration of distinguished individuals in the referee community at the Wyndham Westborough Hotel. In addition to the awards, the MSRC recognized three referees who have been granted life membership by US Soccer and were in attendance at the event.

The slate of 2004 award recipients was top notch and included many familiar faces in the referee community due to their continued service and achievement. The Spirit of the Game Award recipient Ernie Branco embodies the award with his enthusiasm for refereeing and his passion for sharing in the strength of its community. The leadership award recipients each are tremendously active in the areas of assignment, administration, instruction, and assessment, going well beyond the minimum standards to a level of professional service in their domain. The referees recognized stand out amongst peers as individuals of exemplary integrity and preparation.

Instructor and Assessor Ed Rae Jr. served as a emcee for the festivities, opening the night with words of welcome and a definition of camaraderie, a clear theme of the evening. He recognized the several individuals and organizations who supported the event from Mass Youth Soccer, MASS Adult State Soccer, the Middlesex Youth Soccer League, the Boston Area Youth Soccer League, and the South Shore Soccer League. He began the evening by recognizing Angelo Bratsis, Dilvo DiPlacido and Ed Rae, Sr. for their earning of life membership with the US Soccer Federation. Two others, Frank Scarsella and John Medeiros were not able to attend. Rae Jr. was joined at the podium by presenters for the specific awards given out. All recipients received a gift and a personalized certificate of proclamation about their award.

This second annual event was an attempt to build on the inaugural event of 2003. The hope was to offer an event which celebrated the particular individuals in the midst of a backdrop of the familial spirit of the referee community. In listening to the words spoken at the podium, it seems that goals were met. Some of were particularly memorable: Dennis LaVersa spoke of Bill Flannery's unflagging devotion to the notion that nobody is bigger than the game. One of two female recipients and the first of the Flannery Award, Jane Lonergan reflected on how few female referees were "in the tent" when she began refereeing. Former FIFA referee and mentor Angelo Bratsis spoke passionately in his introduction of Ernie Branco about Ernie's character, honor, and commitment to the referee program. Ernie Branco finished off the night with his gracious acceptance of recognition from his "second family."

Please join us in congratulating this year's group of award recipients.

Back: Anthony Ferragamo, Nigel Bright, Milan Robbins, Michael Camberlain, Paul Athanasiadis, Ernie Branco; Front: Dennis LaVersa, Jillian Triplett, Jane Lonergan, Noel Cotterell

Notes about the award recipients:

Spirit of the Game Award - Hernani "Ernie" Branco of Norton

Ernie's warmth and energy bring together referees of all levels and ages. Currently the referee liasison at Gillette Stadium for professional and international games, he is noted by many as the best host of visiting referees due to his attention to detail and humility. A former National referee, Branco had a terrific career which included working as a referee in Foxboro Stadium during the Portugal v. Ireland game prior to the 1994 World Cup. The proclamation presented to him highlights his "indefatigable devotion: To all referee colleagues, To selfless emotional commitment, wearing your soccer heart on your soccer sleeve, To extraordinarily prodigious work on behalf of hundreds and hundreds of players, To splendid extravagance in pursuit of referee support at all levels, and Massachusetts State Referee Committee goals."

Flannery Award - Jane Lonergan of Weston

Jane is refreshing in her approach to refereeing with a glowing smile, positive spirit, and no-nonsense attitude about the task at hand. A leader in female refereeing, Jane has served as referee in competitions of all youth levels since 1987, including State Cup and MTOC. She is active in both high school and college competitions, has served as liaison to the former WUSA Breakers and was a coach of Olympics gymnastics. Noted in her award presentation, Jane is "the very model of the Flannery way total, she represents the affable art, the congenial generation, and the professional yet fun approach to the game."

Flannery Award - Dennis LaVersa of Hanson

Dennis has filled nearly every role there is to fill in support of refereeing, particularly youth refereeing, in the state -- assignor, administrator, instructor, assessor, mentor, etc. As assignor of MTOC for many years and in his other roles, he has touched the careers of literally thousands of referees in Massachusetts in his long tenure and many view him as the key influence in their career. He is one of only six recipients of the national William Schofield Award given "for dedication to the game, return to service, with courage and fortitude after severe physical ailment, and treatment of fellow officials with respect and friendship. Our man epitomizes all those ideals. We here saw them well, then and ongoing," notes his proclamation.

Young Male Referee of the Year - Anthony Ferragamo of Easton

Anthony has had a terrific year working well in many competitions including State Cup, MTOC, and the USYSA Region I Championships. It was announced shortly after the MSRC Awards Night that he had been chosen as the 2004 National Young Referee of the Year (see related article). He is entering Boston University in the fall. Noted in the presentation to him, "This young referee is emblematic of grace, under the rubric of heated, high-level competition."

Young Female Referee of the Year - Jillian Triplett of Oxford

Jillian has had many achievements in refereeing while still in her teens. She has upgraded to Grade 7, joined in collegiate refereeing, and been involved in many high-level competitions including ODP and Region I Championships. Off the field she has excelled as a pilot, scuba diver, and student. In the proclamation presented to her it is noted, "Where most females do not go, she shares the public arena games and calls with males and females equally. She not only survives, endures, but also moves on under such a crucible."

Adult Referee of the Year - Noel Cotterell of Roxbury

Noel is a model of professionalism and grace in many aspects of the game of soccer -- playing, coaching, and refereeing. Beginning his refereeing career in 1991 to learn more about the rules of the game, he was drawn in by the camaraderie of refereeing. In the subsequent years he became involved in higher levels of competition including adult play and was selected to officiated at the Veteran's Cup in West Virginia as a representative of Massachusetts in 2002 and the USASA Senior Select in Binghamton, NY in 2004. The proclamation read of him states it well: "When his name is called to take the pitch, it simply means integrity, class and excellence. He is the shining standout for all soccer seasons: among assignors, among peers, among players."

Administrator of the Year - Mike Camberlain of Saugus

Mike is a leader amongst administrators with a focus on referee development through continuous interaction and coordination with assignors, leagues, and referees. A long-time Area Referee Administrator (ARA), he is typically the first to set up entry level courses, recertification clinics, fitness tests, and other events to service the officials in his area of the state. In his role as USSF Assessor, Mike does well in serving youth referees, helping them to grow, particularly in the early stages of their career. As stated in the proclamation presented, "When dealing with this administrator, one feels like one can count on precise planning, early notice and forget-me-not follow up. A model of smooth efficiency."

Assessor of the Year - Milan Robbins of Mendon

One of the hardest working individuals in the last year for the referee community, Milan has taken great steps to improve his knowledge and understanding of the game as well as advance on the ladder of assessment and instruction. All done with an eye towards helping referees develop, Milan's achievements make him a tremendous asset within our state. He has become the "right hand man" of the State Director of Assessment, helping out with assignment of other assessors and coordinating results. He has participated in the Region I Championships as an assessor for multiple seasons. It is noted that, "He has won the confidence and praise of peers, referees and administrators in unison. Indeed, he is a person whose efforts now and in many past seasons, are conviction-full, both convincing and provocative, for the adults and children who referee."

Instructor of the Year - Nigel Bright of Quincy

Always capable and giving to the program, Nigel emerged this year as a leader in the instructional program with his work on in-service training programs and "conversion" from the grade 11 to grade 9 referee program. His professional approach, clever wit, and expansive knowledge are valuable assets in his role, and he has touched many referees in countless courses. The State Director of Instruction states, Nigel "presides with equal exuberance over the Blue Badge adolescents or hirsute amateur officials. He is the quintessential cornucopiae of resources, elegantly enclosed in a gentlemanly wisdom: our gracious gift to behold."

Assignor of the Year - Paul Athanasiadis of Lexington

Paul has served as assignor of many competitions through several years, creating a strong relationship with referees who appreciated his organization, flexibility, and focus on the best interests of all involved. With his recent work in the adult ranks, he offers a bridge between youth and adult games paving the way for a referee's development from one end to another. His efforts have been recognized outside of Massachusetts as he has been tapped to join in the administration of Region I tournaments and leagues. In the proclamation written for him, it is noted, "Indeed, he is a person, whose efforts now and in the many past few seasons, have set a new, and growing, and expanding, and spectacular norm for assigning. He is the professional goodwill advocate of assigning. He always makes dignity and respect his hallmark. Kudos abound."