Kevin Terry, Jr., is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the ranks of father-son duos that have chosen the same career path. Unlike sons who follow their father into a sport as a player, however, Terry is following his father's path as the man in the middle, working his way through the referee ranks in the hopes of one day becoming a professional referee and earning his FIFA badge.
While working in Milwaukee at Development Academy Finals Week, Terry took time to speak with ussoccer.com about his choice to become a referee and working closely with his dad to reach his goals.
How did you get started in refereeing?
Kevin Terry, Jr.: “I got started in refereeing at a young age. I probably started around age 13 in the local youth leagues in Carrollton, Texas. It helped that my Mom was a local assignor for the youth leagues. I started around that age and moved my way up through high school. It was fun.”
What made you decide at 13 that you wanted to become a referee?
KTJ: “It was a fun thing. I always watched my dad. He was a referee in Major League Soccer at the time, and I just thought that I could incorporate that and I was good at it. People told me I could do it someday, just like him.”
So you really did want to follow in your dad’s footsteps?
KTJ: “I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps. It’s great to have him as my mentor. He’s always on the phone with me when I’m on the road, talking to me about my games. He comes to my games when he has the chance, and he’s an extra assessor on the side of the field.”
There are a lot of fathers who coach their sons at the youth level, and you had your father coaching you as a referee.
KTJ: “My dad also coached me playing all the way until my club days and now he’s a referee coach for me refereeing. Also, he’s a referee coach in MLS. It’s great to have that experience to help me out.”
What was it like watching your dad referee in some of the highest level games?
KTJ: “Sometimes it was very hard to watch my dad referee games. Some games he had a great game and some games could be bad. But it was very good to come home and talk to him about the experiences on the road, the local games watching the Dallas Burn, now FC Dallas, and going to those types of games. It was a very good experience.”
It must be hard to watch a game when you dad is refereeing and everyone around you is giving a hard time to the referee.
KTJ: “It’s very hard to listen to the people next to you that might not know as much about the game as me or definitely as my dad. You have to kind of tune those people out and go about just watching the game and enjoy the game.”
Do you ever remember watching a game that your Dad is doing and thinking, ‘I don’t think he got that call right’?
KTJ: “A couple times I’ve seen my Dad referee and we talked about some situations that he might have gotten wrong but I’m never negative towards my dad. He’s older and wiser.”
What would you say is the best advice your father has ever given you?
KTJ: “The best advice that my dad has given me is to keep pushing yourself to the limit, don’t just take any game for granted. Do the best you can each game and be ready for the unexpected. You just never know what’s going to happen next.”
What type of personality do you try to bring to games?
KTJ: “I try to bring the personality that my Dad brought to the game. I can’t do the exact same thing that my Dad did but I’m a very personable type of person. I talk to the players, quiet words here and there. I try and laugh as much as I can to show that I’m having a good time and hopefully that relays onto the players.”
Ultimately, what would you like to do with your referee career?
KTJ: “My ultimate goal of refereeing is to be where he is, to be a FIFA referee. And I would love to be in MLS in the next couple years. That’s my ultimate goal. I hope it happens someday.”
There can’t be many instances of father and son referees reaching that level.
KTJ: “It will be interesting to see if I can get to that level while he’s still working in the league. It would be interesting to be in the league and he could be my referee coach, possibly. It’s very exciting.”