Marissa Paolini and Caleb Firl Honored as the 2021 NJYS Youth Referees of the Year
Khya Robinson, NJ Youth Soccer
New Jersey Youth Soccer kicked off its virtual celebration of the 34th Annual NJYS Awards Presented by RWJBarnabas Health today, officially announcing Marissa Paolini and Caleb Firl as the 2021 Youth Referees of the Year. As part of their acknowledgement, Paolini and Firl participated in an exclusive interview with Gotham FC defender Estelle Johnson.
Each year, NJ Youth Soccer works with the NJ State Referee Committee to select and honor the NJYS Youth Referees of the Year for their outstanding overall officiating performance, strong individual work ethic and dedication to the promotion of fair play and good sportsmanship by players, coaches and fans.
Marissa Paolini comes from a soccer family, with both her dad and brother also being referees. She played soccer throughout high school and has since been playing in an adult soccer league. During the pandemic, Paolini wanted to find work that would be a good fit, and she discovered that refereeing combined well with her love of soccer. Refereeing has become a rewarding experience that is now shared between Paolini and her family.
The impact of refereeing has continued to be influential for Paolini, and she feels that it helped her grow as an individual as well. She has learned incredible lessons from refereeing such as confidence, collaboration among colleagues and communication skills.
“I appreciate this honor, knowing how many good referees there are in New Jersey,” stated Paolini. “I enjoy youth soccer and contributing to its success. I look forward to continuing my participation and growing as a referee.”
Since the age of seven, Caleb Firl has maintained a passion for soccer. He played for many years and began refereeing at the age of 13. Refereeing started as a suggestion from his mother because she felt that he spent too much time complaining to the referees while he was playing. She told him that ‘if you think refereeing is that easy, then try it out yourself.’ He took her up on that challenge and instantly fell further in love with the sport through refereeing.
Firl now strives to one day become a FIFA referee. He credits NJ Youth Soccer in his pursuit of this goal after the state association provided him with a great foundation through mentors and educational opportunities. His dedication to the sport and his community shines through in his refereeing, and he hopes to eventually extend that work onto the international stage.
“I am incredibly grateful to be named NJYS Male Youth Referee of the Year,” said Firl. “Thank you to the New Jersey Referee Committee and everyone I have worked with this past year for supporting me and allowing me to become the recipient of this award. Most importantly, I would like to thank Barry Towbin, Kenneth Henriques, Magda Zwski, Dan Paolini and my father, David Firl. Without them, this would not be possible. Thank you!”
The virtual celebration of the NJYS Awards Presented by RWJBarnabas Health will continue over the coming weeks, with award winners being announced and featured in special video interviews. To find out more information about New Jersey Youth Soccer or to contact us directly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also make sure to follow us on social media: @NJYouthSoccer