On a beautiful Saturday in November we visited Heritage Park, where Larry Smith was mentoring and training new referees. Larry mentioned that he wasn’t feeling good and lacked some energy. Basically, he said that his “get up and go” kind of got up and left. But being Larry, he proceeded to work for the remainder of the day because Larry loves to be at the fields and help referees.
And now, it is February 14. After 7 blood transfusions (9 units) and 6 hospital stays, Larry has been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Larry said this morning that MDS is a form of cancer where the bone marrow cannot produce red blood cells. His treatment plan is to have more blood transfusions (as long as he is able) to keep replacing his red blood cells. He is applying to become part of a Clinical Study experimenting with new drug in order to help manage MDS.
Many of you -- Coaches, Fellow Referees, Assignors, & Administrators -- have grown to know Larry over the years, and he would love to hear from you. But first, Larry has an amazing story of life, and of soccer, to share with you in order to make the soccer fields a better place. How the tables have turned!
“In 1999, as a father of a youth soccer player, I was loud on the sidelines on game days. Even though my son was only 8 years old at the time, I yelled at the referees. I was loud and obnoxious enough that I received a personal telephone call from my son’s soccer coach asking me to take the club referee class so I could referee my son’s home soccer games. I figured that he must have heard me, or received a complaint about my yelling. I agreed to help, attended the referee class and volunteered as a referee for my son’s games and all games each Saturday at Marcy Park for three years for REAL Colorado’s recreational program. Thanks, Jack Lima for encouraging me to become a Referee -- and a better person at the soccer fields.
Soon, I realized that I loved running up and down the fields, being outside, interacting with players and coaches. In 2002, I became a certified US Soccer Referee. Here it is, 16 years later, and I can’t get enough of soccer. I love it! It is my passion, I still love to referee, and I am a Mentor too. Now, I help protect the referees from the person that “I used to be” on game day.
Over the years, I have been privileged to referee many CSA youth games and tournaments -- for Colorado Storm and for REAL Colorado. They were the home fields for my son. I was eager to advance and referee as much as possible. I joined CHSAA where I could referee high school games in the evenings after work. On weekends, I would referee CSA Youth games, amateur games, ECNL, DA, NPL, DPL, State Cup, and Presidents Cup. When Colorado hosted National and Regional Events, I would volunteer as a referee, golf cart driver, or provide transportation from the hotel to the soccer fields for our visiting officials. Most recently, I served as treasurer for the Colorado Referee Committee. It was a wonderful learning experience, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
In a conversation I had with my son David this week, we talked about managing my MDS, and how eager I am to return to the pitch. In jest, we laughed about how much I have changed -- going from a loud mouth, know-it-all parent to being a staple in the referee community and setting an example on the fields.”
For those of you know Larry, you will agree that he is a man of his word, maintains a high sense of integrity, and is full of good will. As a former United States Army Sargent, Larry has high standards, is honest, is committed to “doing things right,” and giving 100%! Larry’s hearty laugh is infectious. He is a joy to work with, and is an asset to Colorado’s Referee and Soccer Community. Larry is the proud father of three adult children and two wonderful grandchildren.
Larry would love to hear from you. Your words of encouragement, positive thoughts, love and prayers are needed. In addition, to assist Larry, and his wonderful wife Cindy, with medical expenses a GoFundMe account has been established.
Donations can be made at:
Social Media Hashtag #Love4Larry