One of the purposes of this website is to highlight women in soccer, specifically in San Antonio. Thus far the highlights have been on teams and players, but we are expanding that in this article to the third team on the field, the referee crew. In all sports, female officials have been breaking into the highest levels: MLS Cup, Super Bowl, NBA, Bundesliga, etc. This is significant as officiating has been looked at as predominantly a male endeavor and is still a predominantly male-dominated industry. San Antonio has one 19-year-old young woman who is making her own strides as an official, Alexandra Theriot.
Last summer Theriot was part of a select group of up-and-coming referees from South Texas to officiate at the US Youth Soccer Region 3 Championship, where the best clubs outside of DA and ECNL compete. Christina Unkel, FIFA and PRO referee, was her mentor at this tournament. Based on Theriot’s performance at this tournament she was selected with two other referees to officiate at US Youth National Championship in Frisco, Texas. This is an exclusive honor extended to the best–many have moved on from this tournament to officiate at the professional level.
Theriot was invited in an Assistant Referee (AR) capacity to Youth Nationals. As individuals move up, the positions become more specialized, allowing for specific training and mentoring. A summer day in Texas heat requires toughness to referee high level matches. Afternoon games are sweltering, focus has to be unwavering. As an AR there is a lot of sprinting and sidestepping, and Theriot reported that after a while her groin hurt, but every game matters and she stayed sharp. Her hard work was rewarded. At Nationals she was part of a crew to referee the 16U girls final as AR2.
The journey to this point wasn’t quick. Since 2016 she has been getting recognized as a top AR at regional tournaments. She started officiating her first game at age seven when she helped her dad referee a 16U youth rec match. She grew up taking crayons to games her dad was reffing. Her father, Marcel Theriot, was a grade 3; for comparison entry level is 8/9 and FIFA is 1. You might even say it’s a family affair. Theriot’s older and younger sisters and a cousin also referee. It’s not uncommon to see her family comprise a full crew at a youth match.
This year Theriot obtained her state badge. She had to submit a game log with a minimum of 50 games as a referee and 25 games as AR, complete a state referee course, pass a Laws of the Game test, pass a fitness test with sprints and 2.5 miles of timed interval running, pass 2 referee assessments, and pass 1 AR assessment. Theriot talked about feeling “accomplished, powerful, and confident” through the process of completing the requirements and moving up a grade. She had seen other people being assigned games that she wanted to officiate. She is now able to do them. Putting on that state badge as she walks out to the field now, she knows she has a bit of swagger in her step. She talks about how it’s a unique situation for a 19-year-old to walk into a youth match, and now adult matches, and be a force to be reckoned with. As the referee, her decision is final.
It’s being a referee that made her want to be an attorney. She is in her freshman year at Texas A&M. Refereeing has a law book, and it’s all about how the rules are applied. Her government class at Clark High school helped foster that desire. Theriot was a 4-year letterman at Clark for soccer. She played club soccer for Classic Elite.
Theriot enjoys the people she referees with most. She loves the friendships that come out of it. “There is no stronger bond than when you and your closest buddies are doing awesome on a match. They know your life. It’s a lot bigger than a weekend.” Theriot has made referee friends from different states and with different styles that she learns and shares with.
Theriot hopes to make it back to Regionals and Nationals this summer. She wants to keep growing and in turn mentor others. She wants to enjoy this ride and see how far it takes her. Theriot hashad the taste of accomplishing her goals. She will continue to take the next steps to officiate higher and better matches as the summer progresses. Who knows–maybe she will follow in Unkel’s footsteps to be a FIFA referee and an attorney. She is an excellent representation of San Antonio and the mark our city is making in the soccer community.