2012 NYSWYSA Young Referees of the Year

One of Michael Boltri's recommendation letters stated “If Michael is half the referee on the field as he is a young man of character, good will and integrity that he is known to be by me and the St. Joe’s community, then he is certainly deserving of this wonderful recognition.”

Be assured that indeed, he is. It started early. When he was about 6 years old, his grandfather (a state referee) sent him a box full of referee equipment including a whistle, red and yellow cards, and The Laws of the Game Made Easy. Michael would watch games on television with his cards handy, pretending he was the match official. Just imagine him sitting by the television with his red card and send off the family pet for misconduct during the match. By the age of 12 he decided to get serious and became a Recreational Youth Referee and will, in 2013, be entering his 7th year as a referee having upgraded twice to a Grade 7 match official. His honors as a referee include two years at State Cup, the Region 1 Presidents Cup and the Region 1 Championships where he was honored with a semi-final center on a boys under 14 match in his first trip there. This is due to the fact that he has always made himself available to go to tournaments and do matches where he can be assessed and takes the advice he is given to heart. He attended the ODP Girls Camp in Rhode Island where he was mentored by Don Wilbur who is a national inspector for the federation and one of a handful of people who identify referees for advancement. He did not know beforehand that this tournament would be assessed at that level but he took the time from his schedule to attend and learn.

His life is not only about soccer however, and merely counting his accomplishments as a referee would give a very one-dimensional look at this young man. He has a great passion for music and his religion. He is a member of his school’s Swing Choir, of which he was elected Business President, a volunteer position where he is responsible for setting the goals for the organization. In addition, Michael has served as the stage manager for the fall drama at his school and has had roles in two of his school’s musicals and has also been traveled as a cast member of a community theater musical titled Spirit: The Musical which has performed in a number of cities to help educate candidates for Confirmation. Michael is highly involved in the spiritual aspect of his faith. He was one of only six juniors to be asked to attend a life-changing retreat called Kairos and has now been asked to be one of the leaders of the same retreat this coming year. Also, throughout his junior year, Michael served as a core team member for his church’s middle school youth ministry program, a role that involved leading small group discussion, being a role model for young teens, and presenting short talks to the group. Additionally, Michael has served as a lector at mass and has sung in various church choirs and has participated in various fundraising events such as church 5K runs and the Ride for Roswell to raise money for cancer research, and has consistently offered his time to church and school fund raisers. And of course, he is academically strong being named to both the National Honor Society and has been selected for high honors every year at his school.

In perusing
Ellena Holl’s resume, you would note that this young lady had a perfect score on the NYS Regents English Exam. Now I am not too certain what that has to do with being a referee, most of us seldom find a need to use words that had more than one syllable on the field. But it points to something very important in her character. Most of us would announce such an achievement from the rooftops! Not Elenna thought. She has mastered a kind of quiet confidence that cannot be taught which she puts to good use in everything she does.

She started playing soccer at the age of four, and became a recreational youth referee at the age of 12 doing matches in the Cortland County Youth Soccer Association. Now beginning her 7th year as a referee, she has done State Cup 3 times and gets better each year. She is a marvelous player with great field vision. When she was assessed last year, she was told that just because she was a referee, she should not forget that she is also a player and should use her playing skills to anticipate what is going to happen on the field as a referee. She took that advice and transformed into the best female referee at a young age in this year’s tournament. The assessors noticed because they were watching her. It is doubtful that any of the coaches or players were all that aware she was there though... which is the highest compliment one can pay any referee. She controls the match with confidence without taking over the match. Soccer is not the only sport she officiates. She is also a little league baseball umpire.

Perhaps the most important part of her personality is her compassion for other people. She has travelled to many other countries as an ambassador for People to People. Since 2008, Ellena has been around the world learning about new cultures and working with groups such as refugees in India and the hungry in Brazil. She has also been to Figi, Australia and New Zealand and China where we hear she was well fed. She once earned the coveted Inspirational Ambassador Award for that organization. Ellena earned all the money necessary for these trips through her own fund raising and hard work. She has learned tremendous amounts about the cultures and customs of people living in other countries which make her empathetic of the troubled lives people around the world are forced to live on a daily basis. Ellena takes nothing for granted and gives back to people in need. She has taken an active role in the Marathon Youth Group helping to raise funds for a student group to travel to an Indian reservation in the west to work on building a school. She has also helped raise money for the Ronald McDonald Foundation and has volunteered for Toys for Tots. Even though she needs funds for her programs, she puts others’ interests ahead of her own and is a true inspiration for others. One of her close friends was diagnosed with bone cancer, and in her spare time, Ellena single-handedly organized a fund raising event for her, as well as made a warm quilt to help her through chemotherapy treatments. In school she devotes her study halls to volunteer in the Family Resource Center working with young children... is a member of the National Honor Society, takes Advanced Placement College Courses at Tompkins Cortland Community College and takes part in many extracurricular activities such as Young Marines, Students Against Drunk Driving, Treasurer of the Future Business Leaders of America, Vice President of her Student Council and President of her class for the last 3 years. She plays Trumpet and french horn in the school Jazz Band, Marching Band and Concert Band... a group she is also serves as the treasurer. She was nominated as the MVP for her varsity soccer, basketball and softball teams and was named the school’s Athlete of the Year. You might think that this has made it difficult to maintain a high grade average at school but she has maintained better than 95% average in all of her classes.

You wouldn’t know any of this by talking to Ellena. As stated before. She is quiet and confident.