Referee Spotlight: Interview with Jillian Deblar

Officials maintain integrity, fairness, rules, and safety in sports.

They have an important and difficult role, given that audiences, players, and coaches might not agree with the ruling during a game. Officials are invested in the players and coaches, to provide a fun and competitive experience that allows everyone to learn and improve their technique, strategies, and teamwork.

We caught up with Jillian Deblar, an official from Cal North to learn more about what it’s like to officiate for large events, her experiences, and favorite parts of working in a soccer community.


1) What initiated your interest in soccer officiating? Any previous experience playing soccer?

I was raised near St. Louis, MO and began playing soccer competitively in the fourth grade. I played through college with my first two years at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL and my last two years at McKendree University in Lebanon, IL. I recently moved to Northern California in October of 2016 and currently reside near Lake Shastina close to Mount Shasta. When my son started playing soccer and I was asked if I wanted to referee so I decided to look into it. I took my first course in August 2017 and my first step on the pitch as a referee shortly after. My love and passion for the game was quickly rekindled.

2) How long have you been an official and what other notable events have you officiated at?

Officially, two years in August 2019. I have worked diligently to improve and have been fortunate to have had many mentors educating and guiding me along the way. At the end of my first year I attended the Girls Development Academy Summer Showcase in Oceanside, CA where I met Matt Buckman who later invited me to participate in the Elite Referee Training Program here in Northern California. In addition, I have had the privilege of attending the Far West Regional Championship tournament in Boise, ID, a second Girls Development Academy Summer Showcase, and Presidents Cup National Championship tournament in Murfreesboro, TN which just finished July 14th.

3) What does it mean to represent Cal North?

To represent Cal North is a complete honor. It means you are representing the best of the best. I’m provided high-quality educational material, trainings, and world-class coaching opportunities. Every coach and mentor are motivated to get better together. I believe the quality of referees produced by our program here in Cal North is one of the best in the nation.

4) What advice do you have for up and coming soccer officials and young girls who want to get into officiating?

You learn just as much from the things that go right as you do from the things that go wrong. Learn, grow, and keep going. Never stop trying to get better, and never dwell too long if you’re feeling complacent. Do your homework and know the laws. Don’t just seek out one mentor but seek out many mentors. Find someone who believes in you and is willing to support your goals and be open to feedback. Always give 110% even when no one is watching. Set big goals and then figure out the immediate actions and steps that are going to keep you going in that direction. Take the assignments no one else wants. Have a good attitude. Always treat every game like an audition. And, remember to always be grateful because every experience is an opportunity.

For young girls, know that you are more than capable of managing anyone on the pitch in any match. Have confidence. Believe in yourself. Build your toolbox and find what works for you. Be resilient and persistent. There are amazing opportunities out there as long as you’re willing to work hard.

5) What did you look forward to the most about your trip to Nationals?

What I looked forward to the most about attending Presidents Cup Nationals, besides the privilege to represent Cal North, were the opportunities for growth and development; from the education to the coaching to working alongside some of the best in the nation. The icing on the cake are the relationships I get to create along the way. It’s an unforgettable experience.



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