Over 700 games will be organized/hosted at Steel City FC sites this year. 

Along with the hours the players spend on and off the pitch developing their skills, the time coaches devote to planning, training, and working with each player, and the parents’ efforts in organizing all logistics to get their young stars where they need to be, all season long, comes another pivotal group in the beautiful game—the referees. 

In partnership with Lawrenceville Vision Care, we’re bringing you a closer look at those seeing the game and making the calls on the field, as well as the decision to take their love of the game and ensure our players can compete.

Name: Taylor Bombalski, CMP

Hometown: Freeport, PA

@ USYS South Region Event

What is your full-time job outside of refereeing? 

Meetings & Events Specialist II at Thermo Fisher Scientific and Immediate Past President of Meeting Professionals International Pittsburgh Chapter

How long have you been officiating? 16 years

What got you into the game and officiating? 

I started playing soccer at Freeport Area Soccer Association when I was five and played club at Northern Steel. I developed a love for the game at an early age, and my brother played, so it was a family sport. I got into officiating to make extra money but found that I was pretty good at it and kept with it! 

What role do officials play in teaching the game? 

If I officiate a younger game, I talk more to the players – almost as a second coach. This involves me talking to them each time two players compete for a ball. 

For example, I would say “good” or “find the ball.” This is a small reminder to the younger players that:

1.) I am here to support the players 

2.) Confirmation if they are playing correctly, and 

3.) to avoid any serious injury by a player who isn’t familiar with the game yet. 

I find that the more you talk to newer, younger players, the smoother your game will be.

Pitt vs VCU 2019

What benefit do you find from being a referee? 

The officiating role has taught me so much because I used to be very shy. So, when I started officiating, I really struggled in the center of the field. I did not have confidence, and I got a good amount of abuse. I left a handful of games crying when I was in High School, but I had referee mentors who explained that no one is perfect and that if I keep working, that confidence will come with time, and I will excel as a referee. 

That is exactly what I did. I was very blessed to become a Regional Referee who has attended the U.S. Youth Nationals three times and the U.S. Youth Development Academy (DA) three times.

What’s one thing you wish spectators would know about your role in officiating the game?

We are not perfect, we will make mistakes because we are human beings. If you are unhappy with the referee in your game, find a local referee course and become a part of the solution.

Interested in learning more on becoming an official?

check out the local training/certification courses here: https://www.pawest-soccer.org/events/refcoursesched/