Soccer officiating a family affair for mom, daughters
LITHIA - For Tiffany Kreinbrink, weekends at the FishHawk Soccer Club have become a perpetual Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Except in Kreinbrink's case, her two daughters — Bailey, 13 and Madison, 12 — are also her colleagues. The trio work as referees with the FishHawk Soccer Club, primarily officiating matches between Fridays and Sundays. "I am really proud of the commitment that both Bailey and Maddie have shown to go through the training, studying and certification process," Tiffany said. "Being a referee is a tremendous confidence boost for them."Tiffany, a native of upstate New York who has lived in Lithia's Fish Hawk Trails for the past 15 years, has worked as a volunteer soccer coach over the past 20 years and is presently a board member with the FishHawk Soccer Club. Kreinbrink has a day job as a business consultant and has been married to her husband, Jim, for 22 years. "He is a huge supporter of the girls and I," Tiffany said. She didn't become a certified referee until September of last year after Bailey expressed an interest in becoming an official. "I just enjoy listening and watching other people play soccer," said Bailey, who has also been a player at the FishHawk Soccer Club for the last six years. "I also think it's helped me with my own game." Tiffany and Bailey went through the United States Soccer Federation's program for Grade 8 certification, an 18-hour course for entry-level referees that consists of six hours of online training and 12 hours of classroom instruction. "I volunteered thinking that it would be a good experience to go through the program myself to enhance my soccer coaching knowledge," Tiffany said. Bailey has officiated more than 20 matches since becoming certified last fall. Meanwhile, Madison eagerly waited to reach the minimum age and become a referee, which she did in September. In fact, Madison was joined by Tiffany and Bailey for her first match, an under-16 contest. "It's actually been a little easier than I thought," Madison said of her refereeing career so far. "And I like the money a lot." The girls typically make between $14 and $25 per match, according to Tiffany. Bailey and Madison — who attend Randall Middle School — are allowed to work solo in contests featuring players younger than they are. They also regularly assist their mother as assistant referees during other matches. Tiffany believes the referee gig provides her daughters with valuable work and life skills. "Since this is their first 'job,' they are learning that they have to dress professionally and arrive early," Tiffany said. "They are learning the importance of organization, how to communicate effectively and how to handle conflicts." Despite all that, Tiffany's favorite job perk is getting to spend some quality time with her girls. "For me, the greatest benefit is doing something meaningful together with my daughters," she said. "I love walking on a field together as a united team, which can sometimes be a challenge off the field with teenager daughters as they establish their own independence."
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