Mission Moments

  1. Evelyn Anderson
    Evelyn Anderson
    For Official Love Member Evelyn Anderson, officiating was just the next logical step. A former basketball player herself, she became an official to better learn the rules of the sport. “I know how to play the game, but the calls are much different,” she explained. Evelyn enjoys working with children, which additionally convinced her to start officiating. She appreciates the opportunity to communicate with young athletes and help them improve their performance on the next play. Besides allowing her to see sports from a referee’s point of view, officiating has bolstered Evelyn’s self-confidence. “I learned that I could do anything that I could put my mind to. I thought it was something hard to do,” she explained. Evelyn says officiating has been a good learning experience, but takes time and dedication. “If you feel that you want to do it, then do it because it may seem hard, but once you put your mind to it, it’s something that anyone can do,” she said. For others interested in becoming an official, Evelyn recommends the Official Love program where there’s strong leadership under Kristopher Loving, who she personally looks up to. She says Kristopher is always willing to help and has everything “lined up and laid out” for people to begin their officiating careers.
  2. Dawn Johnson
    Dawn Johnson
    Official Love Member Dawn Johnson initially began her officiating career to stay involved with sports. She enjoyed the flexibility offered by officiating, where she could work one day a week if she wanted, and liked ensuring that the laws of the game were followed. Dawn began by officiating soccer, a sport she had previously played, and eventually expanded to officiate both lacrosse and football. Officiating allows her to spend time outdoors and to connect with other officials. She thinks officiating is a valuable experience for young people starting out in their careers because it teaches responsibility, punctuality, and the rules of the game. Officiating is a lot like owning your own business, Dawn explained, which is one of the aspects she enjoys the most. Dawn originally met Official Love Founder Kristopher Loving while officiating lacrosse. She appreciated his organization’s mission to get young people involved in officiating and to assist them in developing additional life skills. The upfront costs of becoming an official can be quite high, Dawn explained. Official Love helps to lower these expenses and reduce barriers to becoming a sports official. Drawn to this vision, Dawn joined the organization as both an official and a Board Member. She especially enjoys the mentorship provided by Official Love. This help was useful for her to begin officiating football, a sport she had never played. Officiating is helping Dawn gain confidence, be more assertive, and refine her communication skills. For players, parents, and coaches, she explains that officials are human and make mistakes, but ultimately deserve respect. “We’re just out here, trying to help the game. Without officials, the game would be intramurals. It would be just play,” she said. In addition, she would like to see more women becoming officials. “I think it’s something that women could try, because it helps with self-confidence, being assertive, and then some life skills as well,” Dawn explained.
  3. Dom Layfield
    Dom Layfield
    Sports have been a part of Official Love Member Dominique (Dom) Layfield’s life for over a decade. As a child, he played football through the Rochester Youth Football Association (RYFA), where he learned several life lessons. Dom began officiating sports in high school, at first to make some extra money. But after seeing sports from the official’s point-of-view, he saw officiating as a way to give back to his community. Dom met Official Love Founder Kristopher Loving through RYFA, where the pair bonded. “We just had a real good connection, just on a personal level. He felt like an older brother to me,” Dom explained. Kristopher eventually explained the concept of Official Love to Dom, sharing his vision and goals for the organization. “I do know where Kris’s heart is,” Dom affirms, which encouraged him to join Official Love and follow the entrepreneurial vision. Officiating is difficult work, Dom explains, and is not always a popular job. You have to learn all the rules and manage parents and players. Now, he views officiating as a leadership role for himself and wants to learn sports from the official’s end of the game. Official Love is making him more assertive and helping him make decisions faster. “Our motto is you make a call, you have to make it one hundred percent. Don’t go fifty,” Dom explained. He says you have to do your homework to make accurate calls- and be able to stick to them- in sometimes hostile situations. Official Love, for Dom, is much more than just an officiating opportunity. It’s teaching him personal skills, people skills, and networking. “I think it’s an opportunity for you to grow and to challenge yourself and to give back to the community,” he explained.
  4. Marcus London
    Marcus London
    Marcus London began his officiating career about four years ago as a youth basketball referee. “I really liked it and I really enjoyed staying around the game even though I didn’t play anymore,” he explained. Marcus first officiated basketball, and recently began refereeing football. He started with youth games and is now working his way up the ladder. Marcus first met Official Love Founder Kristopher Loving at an officiating clinic at the University of Minnesota. After learning about the organization, he thought the mission and the impact that Official Love was having in the community was “a wonderful thing.” It was quite difficult to launch an officiating career by himself, Marcus explained. He says the help, mentorship, and even hand-me-down uniforms offered by Official Love would have been extremely useful in the early stages of his own career. “That’s why I wanted to be a part of [Official Love], because I know it was hard for me to start out. So, if I can help the next guy, that’s awesome,” he explained. Marcus especially enjoys the teaching aspect of officiating, where he can work with young players, help them improve their game, and open their eyes to the official’s perspective. He views officiating as a real “way to give back to the game,” something that has provided himself, and many other officials, so much value. Although officiating requires a time commitment, Marcus says it’s a way to give to the next person and return the same opportunity that he had as a child to learn from adults. Marcus says working with Official Love has helped him well beyond officiating. “It brings value. Kris really cares about young people and what officiating will do for them not only in the game, but also in life,” he explained. Marcus says that Official Love has taught him patience, morals, and tools to block out unnecessary sources that “screw up your head and keep you from achieving your goals.”