Mass. Young Refs of the Year named

Joanna Cloutier of Charlton and Brendan Orino of Rutland have been named the 2005 Young Referees of the Year for Massachusetts.

Joanna Cloutier

J_cloutier.jpg - 17754 BytesJoanna Cloutier was driving home from track practice one day this Spring when she received a cell phone call from John Utter. Due to poor reception, the conversation was disjointed, but by the time she returned home and was able to get a more secure line, Joanna found out from Utter that she had been named Young Female Referee of the Year. “The back roads of Dudley and Clinton aren’t the best to be on a cell phone,” she said.

The Shepherd Hill Regional High School senior, who will be attending Stonehill College in the fall, began playing soccer at the age of five, and although she continued with soccer into high school, she has focused her athletic attention on field hockey in recent years. That has not prevented her from roaming soccer fields and sidelines as a referee.

“I did a referee course in high school (in 2002),” Cloutier said. “My mom said, ‘sign up, it’s something you can do on the weekends, make a couple of dollars here and there and you’ll buy a new outfit.’ I just kind of stuck with it.” She has stuck with it enough to be headed to State Cup, MTOC and Regionals in the coming months before entering Stonehill.

“I learn something new pretty much every game I ref,” she said, noting that one particular eye-opening experience was handing out her first red card, in a Boys U16 Division 1 game this season. “I was traumatized by it.”

Cloutier, whose younger brother Cory recently became certified as a referee, plans to ref intramural soccer games at Stonehill and she also hopes to play collegiate field hockey as well. The treasurer for her school’s National Honor Society, Cloutier expects to major in history and math with a concentration in secondary education. “Joanna’s game count (over 200 for a teenager!) and her numerous activities off the field (all star field hockey player, all star track athlete, numerous charitable activities) make Joanna a fantastic choice,” Utter said.

Brendan Orino

b_orino.jpg - 18436 BytesBrendan Orino had his mind made up even before high school that he would frequently find his way onto the soccer field not just as a player, but also as a referee. “I started in sixth grade with a start-up program for kids to do U8 and U10 games,” Brendan said. “I found people saying I was doing a real good job. I just decided as soon as I felt I was old enough I’d try to get certified, so I did that in seventh grade.”

The St. John’s (Shrewsbury) senior began playing soccer in the Wachusett Area Youth Soccer league and has played for several clubs as well, in addition to the varsity team at St. John’s the last two years. That is, when he hasn’t been assigned as a referee for local fall and spring games near his hometown as well as MAPLE games around the state.

“I like games that are rough, where you really have to think about the calls you’re making and the effect they’ll have on the game,” he said. He said that his nomination for the Young Referee of the Year award was unexpected, but after going through the selection process, he received the welcome phone call from Utter.

“I was really surprised,” said Brendan, whose two younger brothers, Spencer and Conlan, have also begun to ref soccer games. “I hadn’t had a lot of contact with other young referees so I wasn’t sure what I was competing against.”

“Brendan rose quickly through the ranks of MAYS and MAPLE play, and was recognized by Rich Filippetti (MAPLE assignor) as a good candidate for State Cup a couple of years ago,” Utter said. “Brendan not only worked, but earned a spot in the finals. Having worked the last two years in the State Cup finals, along with his superior academic record, was key.”

Orino is off to Brown University this fall, where he plans to major in international relations. And, he noted, “I definitely would like to push and see how far I can go” with being a referee. Both Joanna and Brendan are eligible for Regional Referee of the Year consideration (to be announced next month) as well as National Referee of the Year honors, which will come later this summer.

In choosing the Young Referees of the Year, the Massachusetts State Referee Committee solicits nominations from assignors, league presidents and area referee administrators. This year, there were 10 female and 22 male nominees, each of whom submitted an application, detailing on-field and off-field accomplishments, as well as a list of references. The State Referee Committee then pares down the list to three finalists before reaching a final choice for each gender.