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SOTN News from the SRA

Welcome to the The Soccer Officials of Tennessee (SOT) website!

  The SOTN is now entering its 7th year since inception.  As we enter the new year 2015, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on 2014’s accomplishments as well as what 2015 will bring for us.

    The 2014 Southern Region III Championships in Baton Rouge, LA. showcased many of our young, a few seasoned, referees from all across Tennessee.  The SOTN were represented by fourteen referees and two assessors as well as HOD, Brady Robinson (ASRA), who attended the week long tournament.  Our entire referee/assessor delegation did very well with two referees, Brooke Mayo (State 6,) being selected to represent Region III as referee to attend US National Championships in Germantown, MD. along with Walt Heatherly (grade 7 at the time) as assistant referee. Rhiannon Harrison (State 5 at the time) and BJ Brillard (State 6) were selected to represent Region III at President’s Cup, Greenville, SC.

   Each year Region III selects it’s male/female “Young Referee of Year”.  I was filled with great pride when USSF notified me that the 2014 Region III Young Referee of Year (male) was awarded to  Walt Heatherly. There are 12 referee programs representing Region III and it is truly a great honor that for two years in a row, 2013 (Donovan Eubank both Region III and National) and 2014, that a SOTN referee has been chosen for this prestigious award out of all 11 states in Region III!

   The 2014 SOTN Advanced Referee Clinic was a tremendous success with over 120 referees/assessors meeting at Father Ryan HS, Nashville, TN. in late July.  Many thanks to all the those who worked to make this clinic a success including instructors, Susan Williamson, Andy Moss, Steve Kovac, Don Eubank as well as behind the scene facilitators, Gina & Rick Foster (food/drink), Brady Robinson (technical) and of course SDI, Greg Gruzalski, along with Peggy Gruzalski and Tabitha Eubank assisting. An extra thanks to Andy Moss for facilitating the usage of Father Ryan HS as the venue and we hope to be allowed usage of this fine facility in 2015.

   2014 also ushered in the new USSF referee classification system. All referee grades were impacted, in particular the grade 7 and State 5 referee.  Based on input from a meeting with executive members of the SOTN SRC along with current and past National Referees from Tennessee, the new referee classification/guidelines were formalized for Tennessee.  Change inevitably brings confusion, primarily with the new grade 7 class as well as the mandatory physical fitness test to “whistle” amateur (adult) and State League D-I matches in Tennessee.  To mitigate hardship for referee assignors, as well as the amateur adult leagues, I will be allowing a transition/grace period, for the spring 2015 season, on the new requirements which will be strictly applied fall 2015.

   For clarity, concerning the assigning of amateur (adult) and State League D-I matches in Tennessee for 2015, below are guidelines referee assignors will be applying when assigning these matches to other than State 6/5 or National referees:

Referee grade 7, including Emeritus, can “whistle” any amateur or SL match during spring 2015.

Referee grade 8 is not to be assigned the “whistle” in any amateur or SL match but can be assigned as AR.

Fall 2015, all grade 7 and Emeritus referees must complete a modified USSF fitness test (not the State Referee fitness test) to be assigned “whistle” in amateur and SL D-I matches.

Fall 2015, all grade 7 and Emeritus referees who do not complete a modified fitness test, can be assigned only AR’s for amateur adult and SL D-I matches.

   The 2015 Southern Region III Championships will be played in Little Rock, AR. this June.  If you are referee grade 7 or higher and would like to be considered a candidate for this tournament, please notify your DRA of your interest as we will again be sending 12-14 referees and two assessors. Also, those of you ages 14-20 who are interested in attending referee ODP camp this July in Alabama, please make your DRA aware of your interest.

   Lastly, the SOTN is “YOUR” referee program and cannot effectively function without our volunteers. FYI, all SOTN SRC members are unpaid volunteers … you and I owe a great deal of gratitude to all of them for the many hours they dedicate to administering their respective divisions/districts. Next time you speak or e-mail them, I’d appreciate you offering a simple “thank you” for their dedication and sacrifice. Each of you have an open invitation to volunteer your expertise or time to our referee program and feel free to drop me an e-mail or call if you desire to do so.

May each of you have a fantastic start to 2015!


Mike Candebat
State Referee Administrator, Tennessee

How do special-cases officials register for 2015?


Special cases are officials who will not recertify by taking a run-of-the-mill recert clinic. Special cases typically include officials who satisfy any of the following:

  • referees grade 6, 7, 15 & 16,
  • referees who attended the advanced clinic (plus those who were excused from attending it),
  • referees who are expecting in-service-training credit for attending an SOT University,
  • instructors, and/or
  • assessors.

Please go to the following URL for more information and/or to register for 2015 (that is, to pay your registration fee(s), to complete your 'paperwork,' and to take the appropriate refresher exam).


Note: If you are a referee who will be upgrading (instead of recertifying) for 2015, do not follow the special-cases instructions for your referee registration. Instead, follow the instructions you have or will have received from Brady regarding how to register as a referee for 2015. On the other hand, if you are planning a mid-year upgrade sometime in 2015, follow the special-cases instructions given at the above URL.


Walt Heatherly

Walt Heatherly has been selected as the Region III Youth Referee of the YEAR!

  • The Youngest Referee grade 7 in TN History
  • The Youngest Referee grade 6 in TN History
  • The Youngest ever from TN to attend Region III tournament - 14 Years Old
  • Selected to attend Region III tournament 4 Years in a row
  • Selected by Region III to represent Region III at the National Tournament as one of the Best Referees in Region III
  • Selected as Tennessee Youth Referee of the Year

Walt has become a staple in TN Soccer, he represents the State of Tennessee, his parents and himself with dignity.  He is the first referee on an assignors list when they have difficult games to assign.  His maturity on the pitch belie his true age - great work Walt! 

Upcoming Events

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Who Must take the FIFA Sprint and Interval test (Test will be offered at the advanced clinic on July 26, 2014).

  • All Grade 6 Referees who wish to recertify for 2015 at current or higher grade.

Grade 7 referees' (Or grade 8's in the upgrade program) who wish to receive priority assignments in adult matches will have a new fitness test available in multiple locations this fall.

What will happen to Grade 5 Referees on Jan 2015?

  • SOT will recertify all grade 5's as State Referee Grade 6 on Jan 1, 2015
  • Any Grade 5's entering the USSF program for Nationals will be also processed by USSF and upgraded back to a grade 5 in USSF system.