New Jersey Youth Soccer Salutes Soccer Referees
When New Jersey Youth Soccer hosted its 32nd Annual NJYS Awards Dinner presented by RWJBarnabas Health, there were many players, coaches and members of the soccer community celebrated at the Pines Manor in Edison, N.J.
Two of those honorees were Danielle Cornetta and Justin Saporito, who were selected as the 2019 NJYS Youth Referees of the Year.
“Danielle and Justin are setting the bar for the next generation of referee athletes,” said Dan Paolini, State Youth Referee Administrator. “The NJ State Referee Committee is proud of their accomplishments, and we know that they will continue to serve as exemplars for our entire referee community.”
Alongside her twin sister, Danielle Cornetta began playing soccer at a young age. She continued through high school until she decided to focus on basketball. Not wanting to lose touch with soccer, a friend convinced her to attend a referee class. She then started to referee local travel games and eventually had the opportunity to officiate during NJYS State Cups competitions.
Cornetta feels that refereeing has taught her many life lessons that have allowed her to grow as both a referee and a person. She now plans to continue refereeing during college as she seeks to gain even more knowledge about the sport.
“It means a lot to get recognition for what we do,” said Cornetta. “This award shows not only my hard work but also the hard work of all referees. Our goal is to keep it safe, and it is a gift for us to watch these players compete at such a high level.”
At a young age, Justin Saporito started playing soccer at the recreation level and later joined his local travel team. While he was in middle school, he decided to become further involved with soccer as a referee, earning his first referee badge at the age of 14. He quickly began to enjoy officiating as much as he did playing the game, and he was soon competing in varsity soccer during the week and refereeing on the weekends during high school.
“I love running around and having fun, and I love the game of soccer,” said Saporito. “I strive to give my best performance every time I am out there, so it is very rewarding to receive this recognition.”
Now in college, Saporito continues to referee and has no plans on stopping anytime soon.