The Cal South Referee Spotlight is a calsouth.com feature, highlighting elite officials through the Cal South system
When Alex Chilowicz was a boy growing up in New Jersey, he would join his referee dad out for a game he was officiating, or a referee class he would instruct. Whether the elder Chilowicz did it as a form of babysitting or inspiration, little did both know what the future held.
Chilowicz played soccer up until high school, but his referee career would take off way before graduating. After attending around seven to eight referee courses since age four that were taught by his dad, fellow referees encouraged the young Chilowicz to take the test.
“I was 12 when I took the test and I got the second-highest score in the class because I had just been sitting there for all that time,” Chilowicz jokes as he reminisces.
“I continued to play all through high school; if I had a game either on Saturday or Sunday, I would just be a referee the other day, sometimes with kids younger than me,” he added. “Then I went to college to study music, and that’s when I started getting much more serious about officiating.”
While still living and officiating in New Jersey, Chilowicz followed his father’s footsteps and also became a Referee Instructor. With the mentorship from fellow New Jerseyan and two-time FIFA World Cup Referee Mark Geiger’s help, Chilowicz began his journey to PRO, becoming a PRO Fourth Official in 2015. That same year, Chilowicz’s professional career would see him make a move west to California, where he knew he could find additional mentorship for his ever-growing career.
Chilowicz continued officiating with PRO, refereeing in local tournaments, as well as the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup and in United Soccer League (USL) matches, while remaining in close contact with his mentors, many of which were now in his geographical area.
“Because of the referees and the quality of soccer being very high, there’s a lot of talent in the Cal South Referee pool. You have Baldomero Toledo, Kevin Stott, Frank and Ian Anderson; there are a lot of really talented officials and great mentors who have come out of Cal South,” he said. “This industry is such that it’s kind of like a mentorship apprenticeship and it’s very important because you can go sit in a class but at the same time, having those people in your geographic location that can give you the advice having been at the highest level is important.
“There’s an abundance of really high-level referees that help grassroots referees bring up the quality. When you have high quality soccer, because Cal South is a traditionally strong soccer community, players – youth and amateur, it means that you have referees that are able to progress as well,” he added.
Due to his level of experience on the field as a Referee, and in the classroom as an instructor, recently appointed State Referee Administrator Juan Guzman, Jr. asked Chilowicz to join his team of instructors and mentors in an effort to improve the quality of referee education. Chilowicz gladly took on the task, hoping one day, that the entire Southern California soccer community can view referees under a positive light.
“A big part of what I would be able to help with is improving the way that referees are perceived by the rest of the soccer community,” Chilowicz said. “The idea being that we can kind of help to cultivate better and more positive relationships between referees and the rest of the soccer community; to let parents, coaches and players know that we’re not the enemy, we have to get referees into the realization that we can be our best advocates if we can foster better understanding between the soccer community and referees.”
To learn more about the Cal South Referee Program, click here.