For the first time in its history, a Western New York Referee has been added to the international referee panel for the United States.

Amanda with her mother and father at a U17 tournament in Carson, CA; her first assignment as a FIFA in February.

Above are the 3 women who were added to the FIFA panel this year at the USA-China game in San Diego on April 10, Felisha Mariscal, Katja Koroleva and Amanda Ross.

Amanda L. Ross, a member of the WNYSRA since 1998, was appointed as a FIFA Assistant Referee effective January 1, 2014. Amanda becomes one of only four USA women holding a Grade 2 badge, which qualifies them to officiate competitive international matches.

Amanda became a Grade 8 referee in 1998. She was playing soccer at the time, but decided to stop playing so that she could referee more. She graduated from Gates-Chili High School and attended Binghamton University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science. She then entered a graduate program at Syracuse University, earning a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Economics. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics at West Virginia University.

Although she remains a member of the Western New York State Referee Association, Amanda lives in Morgantown, WV and helps mentor young officials in the Morgantown area.

We asked Amanda to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what she has to say.

Q: What are your most exciting on field and off field experiences thus far?
A: On the field that have been so many that it’s hard to choose. But I think it was December 1, 2012. I was assigned as AR2 on my second international friendly, USA vs. Ireland in Phoenix, AZ. It was the first time that I had ever been flown somewhere for just one game, so that was a new experience. As we stood on the field during player introductions and anthems, I realized that I was standing between Kari Seitz (former FIFA Referee with 4 World Cup and 3 Olympic appearances) and Abby Wambach (FIFA Player of the Year and so many other things). It was hard not to become emotional, thinking how much had happened since my first Intertown (now MURSL) games in 1998.

Off the field it was August 7, 2013. I was honored to be sent to Scotland for a tournament by US Soccer, and had just returned home to Rochester. I was in the stands watching a WNY Flash game when Sandra Serafini called to tell me that US Soccer had voted to nominate me to the international panel.

Q: What advice do you have for referees who want to move up through the ranks?
A: You never know who’s watching you. Referees too often concentrate on their on-field performance, then shoot themselves in the foot off the field. No game is beneath you. No clinic or training session is beneath you. You never know who will hear what you said or see what you wrote. Worse yet, you never know what someone else will “say” that you said. Avoid those situations. Be a professional 100% of the time.

Never underestimate the importance of training. Attend every clinic that you can – people notice and you just might learn something new. Physical training has to continue year round and everyone should train – not just when you get older and think you’re starting to lose a step. You won’t be 16 and able to run a 6 minute mile without trying forever. Starting a training routine when you’re young will help extend your career.

Have a support system. That includes mentors who can guide you, referees that are “moving up” with you and can share experiences, and non-referee friends so that you have a chance to get away from it every now and then.

Get your non-referee life in order. Referees start seriously “moving up” in their late teens and early twenties – the same time that they are entering college and/or looking for a job. Education and your full-time job are higher priorities because you won’t be living off of your referee salary. Every female FIFA official in the USA has a full time job outside of soccer. Only nine men in the country are full-time referees. It may be necessary for you to take time off from refereeing – I did it for two years. If you explain that to the people who are working on your development, they understand and accept that. It’s better to be honest and take a break than to try too much and fail at everything.

Be honest with yourself. Humans make mistakes, and your credibility suffers when you are constantly trying to justify every decision that you made. When something bad happens, ask yourself two questions: What did I do that contributed to the bad situation? What can I do differently the next time?

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m continuing to work games in the NWSL and other professional leagues. I’ve been invited to a World Cup qualifying tournament in the Caribbean in June. I work with a strength and conditioning coach twice a week, in addition to my regular training six days a week. My next goal is to earn a spot at a CONCACAF tournament.

We are all very proud of Amanda, and congratulate her on her accomplishments thus far. We hope this serves as an incentive to all of our young referees. You are here at a good time. The appearance of multiple professional teams in Western New York has created the need for local referees qualified to do high level games. Take advantage of the challenges and opportunities that come along, because you just never know how far you might go.