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Q&A with 2018 FIFA Panel member Jennifer Garner

Referee Region

Happy New Year NTX Referees,

We hope you are all off to a great start to 2018.

North Texas Soccer would like to introduce you to one of the 2018 FIFA Panel members – Jennifer Garner from Prosper, Texas.

Jennifer’s love of the game, whether as a player or coach, led her to the path of becoming a soccer referee.  Jennifer played in the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League for years and received a scholarship to play at Texas A&M Commerce. After college she continued to play in the NTX Women’s Premier League Division

It was wanting to stay involved in the game at a high level that led to her signing up for an entry level referee clinic.  Her natural athletic talents and knowledge of the game made for a natural transition to refereeing

Jennifer began refereeing in Arlington in 2004 as a GR9. She quickly took a GR8 clinic based on the suggestions of her fellow referees and assignors. 

Within the first two years of becoming a referee, Jennifer knew that she wanted to earn the highest badge of all – the FIFA badge. The first step was to attend the State Advancement Clinic. Following the clinic she came up with a plan – a plan that she could measure her success by and set attainable goals. She scheduled and passed her three formal assessments. The rest of that year, she had at least one informal assessment per month. This way she continued to receive feedback on what she could work on to improve for the next game. By following her plan, she earned her state badge within the year.

This same hard work and commitment to being coachable led her to obtaining her National Badge. A goal she set as a National Referee was to draw out a timeline for events to attend outside of North Texas. She looked at the next two years, made a plan and knew ahead of time what events she could attend in order to continue to grow and improve as a referee and where she could get her assessments. To attain her goal Jennifer knew that, “in order to get to the next level, you sometimes have to give up a vacation or turn your vacation into a referee tournament.” A lot of planning and determination goes into reaching the next level.

By the time you see this article, Jennifer will have worked her first match as a FIFA AR. Her current goals are to continue to referee every game to the best of her ability and to train hard outside of soccer. She maintains the drive, determination and highest level work ethic she can give to each game.

We asked Jennifer some questions that will help all of our referees that have a goal to get the next level.

So often, many referees exit the program because they get yelled at, how do you view getting yelled at?

JG – "I think being a coach for 15 years and a player for most of my life helped me realize the difference between a passionate outburst and when a coach personally attacks an official. It is okay for coaches to be passionate, but not to attack an official in public, provocative or personal manner. Sometimes I would analyze my performance after the game based on a coach's comment that seemed valid.   Self-evaluation after every game is important to becoming a better referee." 

Who have been the greatest influences on your path to FIFA?

JG – "There are literally too many to name. I would like to recognize Adam Garner (my husband), Kevin and Susan Terry, Jim Mills, Manny Ortiz, and Bobby Morrison. All were and are an integral part of my success. They have mentored me, helped and coached me from the very beginning. I am very grateful for their wisdom and support."

What are three of the most important things a referee should be doing if he/she wants to get to the next level?

JG – "You must be coachable and accept constructive feedback.  Challenge yourself by working different leagues. Mix it up. Set up informal assessments, find a mentor that will help you, invest in you, and learn from them. Give every game your absolute best. This is something you can control – your work ethic and attitude."

Jennifer no longer plays or coaches soccer, but she has the best view of many high level games all over the country and sometimes outside of the USA.

We wish Jennifer continued success as she fulfills her goal of wearing a FIFA badge.

- State Referee Committee