Officially Fearless: Lizz Bott

Know your sport inside and out? Want to get out on that field for some action but you’re playing days are over? Here’s an idea: How about using those skills to officiate a game?

We know what you are thinking… you’ve read stories, seen the headlines of the craziness that takes place on the sidelines with parents foaming at the mouth, coaches losing control and video of real brawls breaking out… who would want to take on such a task?

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Lizz Bott of Joppa, MD officiating a soccer game.

Say hello to Lizz Bott! G3 got in touch with this young and courageous soccer aficionado turned referee to talk about this juicy role for the next edition of Sports Jobs.

Lizz, a recent graduate from college, is still going at it on the weekends in local soccer circles even though she has started working in her professional career. She can’t help herself.

At four years of age, she fell in love with the game, playing goalie for seventeen years. During high school she was playing five days a week. Then, as she went into college that focus changed dramatically, playing one game a week with only one practice. She missed her playtime!

That’s when it happened. One day “My grandfather mentioned he knew someone in charge of a referee association that needed refs desperately. I was like, ‘Yeah I can do that!’”

Feeling fueled and up for the challenge, Liz continued. “I know the game probably better than some of the referees I experienced while I was playing. Referees get a bad rap and I wanted to help change that with my knowledge of the game.”

That was four years ago, and she’s been happily whistling away most of her weekends ever since.

Lizz’s favorite part of reffing? Connecting with the individual players. She enjoys the game and watching a competitive match, no doubt. According to Lizz, nothing beats that action as much as when she sees a “girl’s face light up when they see a girl just like them” officiating.

She loves being a source of inspiration for young girls. She said that sometimes they will come up to her and thank her after the game saying that they’ve never experienced a female referee before. She can’t help but smile.

“When the players feel a connection to you rather than have a negative outlook on you, it makes the job worthwhile. I am not there to make their game suffer. I am there to make sure everyone plays well, safe, and have fun,” Liz said.

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Lizz also officiates boys and men’s games.

Of course, Lizz has had to deal with an unruly coach and bench before but she managed to keep her cool in the face of a bully (literally, 6’2″ and at least one hundred pounds heavier) and maintain control of the game and her field.

Because that is what it is, her field.

Wearing those stripes has helped her confidence soar even higher and we should all take a note from her playbook:

“Us girls are tough and can handle what is thrown at us.”

Right on!

Lizz admits, “People thought that I would quit after that bad experience, but I learned from it. [I] got advice from senior referees and now I have an arsenal of things to do whenever faced with a bad situation.”

She really keeps it all in perspective. “Every call you make will leave 50 percent [of the sidelines] happy and 50 percent unhappy. You are in charge on the field and you make the final decision.”

Lizz knows that there is always a need for good female officials in all sports and there is money to be made while continuing to feed her passion for the sport. Here she offers up some words of encouragement for others who want to pursue this avenue:

“Go for it! Do not let anyone push you around or influence you. You know the rules and you make the calls. There are always bad apples out there that will try and bully a girl around, I know first hand. But your partner and association will have your back, no matter what.”

Wow, talk about an inspiration? Way to go, Lizz!

Speaking of soccer: the USWNT (#1) will be playing against France (#3) at RFK stadium on March 7 as part of the SheBelieves Cup to open up the season. The USWNT shut out #2 Germany last night, 1-0. For schedule information go here.

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