Kyle Trimble - 100
Not even a negative incident or two could deter a teenage Kyle Trimble from pursuing something that turned into a passion -- officiating soccer games.
When he was a 16-years-old linesman Trimble remembered when he and the referee were chased off the field of a youth game in Wisconsin.
"Parents started chasing the center ref and I ran out there," he said. "I jumped in the middle of it and got him in his car somehow. The parents helped me keeping him in the car after that, so he finished the game. That was kind of a fun experience at 16. So, I think from that point on, I was ready to accept to whatever happened in any game. Now, getting yelled at the pro level, I'm used to it. its common and it’s too bad in a sense, too.
"It's pretty easy to have a thick skin after all those years of refing."
Trimble, who is in his 10th Major Arena Soccer League season as a referee, will work the floor of his 100th game when the Milwaukee Wave hosts the St. Louis Ambush on Sunday at 2:07 ET.
The 37-year-old referee was pleasantly surprised when he was told of his upcoming milestone.
"Yeah, it's pretty cool, actually," he said. "I didn't realize I was in the league longer than I thought. It's kind of cool."
Trimble, who lives in Milwaukee with his wife and three children, is one of about 15 referees who have reached the century mark, according to MASL head of officials Ryan Cigich.
"You're not going to survive as an official in any league if you're not pretty good at what you do and can adapt to the changing dynamics and communicate with the players, coaches, have a good understanding of the game from the both the practical and technical aspect," Cigich said. "The technical side of the rules. Soccer is probably a lot like hockey where there's a lot of judgment. It's not all black and white like football can be or baseball. There's a lot more judgment there with a foul, what's not a foul. Stuff like that."
Which Trimble has accomplished quite well. Being a former player certainly has helped.
"He has a pretty good sense, a feel for the game a practical sense to him," Cigich said. "He always stays very calm and doesn't get rattled very often, which is very important, too."
It certainly hasn't hurt that Trimble started to officiate soccer games when he was around 12.
"As a kid it was a good way to make some money," he said. "I just enjoyed soccer, so I wanted to stay involved. I moved up the ranks in college in the reffing area and I kind of stuck with it."
While attending St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Trimble tended goal for three seasons, recording 25 shutouts. He eventually signed with the Wave and was with the team for six months, but never played. Trimble wanted to remain close to the game, so he became an official. His first responsibilities were off-field duties, before receiving an opportunity to work the floor a decade ago.
"When I first stepped out onto the field as a ref it was so much faster," he said. "It was amazing. Maybe it was because I wasn't used to it or ready, but playing it was slow, but reffing it was fast. But after that, it kind of slowed down. It was definitely a different experience."
Trimble became accustomed to the speed of the game in time and wound up working the floor of the 2015 and 2017 finals.
"It was pretty awesome," he said of the 2017 final between the Baltimore Blast and Monterrey Flash. "It was fun to be selected for that game. It was a great experience."
Before each game, Trimble does his homework, making sure he knows the teams, players, fans and arenas he will be working in.
"I watch most of the games online or on the Youtube channel, so I know the fans and know the players," he said. "If it's a newer team that I haven't seen that much, like Mesquite maybe, I'll get a little more background on it before I get there."
When he arrives at the arena, Trimble checks out the venue and meets with the local game officials.
Through the years, Trimble learned that "it's huge to know the players."
"The ones that I know on a first name basis know my name," he said. "They still get mad at me but at least they know who I am when I am being fair, where the new players or new teams always takes a game or two to have them recognize my face and understand how I call the game. Once you know them it helps definitely in this league."
Trimble said the most difficult call in arena soccer was a blue card, in infraction that will send off a player off for two minutes and put the opposing team on a power play "just because it can cause a goal pretty quickly a man down."
"You've got to be spot on or 100 percent right on blue cards," he said. "If you're not, that's when the games get interesting because ... even if you're right on a blue card teams are upset. When both teams know you're wrong, it can get a little interesting. That's the toughest call in indoors for me."
Trimble has felt blessed he can work in the game he loves so much. He is a referee assignor in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, making sure youth, adult and state cup games have game officials. It can range anywhere between 500-700 games a week. He also works in a bank.
"Mainly the soccer stuff pays the bills," he said. "It becomes a little crazy during the season, but it's nice to stay involved in soccer.”
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
"It's great,” he said. “It's something that I love to do and it's kind of fun to stay involved and do something I like to do."
Michael Lewis, the editor of FrontRowSoccer.com, writes a weekly column about the MASL. You can follow him on Twitter at @SoccerWriter