Krahns are first family of soccer
September 30, 2004
When Vern Krahn began as an official and Colleen Krahn volunteered as a team parent, they never imagined the entire family would step up to the plate and donate much needed time to the Carson City American Youth Soccer Organization.
It’s a touching story filled with community pride, civic duty and family love. It’s All-American family values at their finest.
Vern and Colleen Krahn have been AYSO volunteers for eight years. Their three children, Daniel, 11, Katie, 9 and Christy, 5, all play soccer and donate their spare time to the AYSO program as well. Colleen started the trend as team parent for Daniel’s first soccer team.
“I firmly believe that parents need to be involved in their children’s lives,” Colleen said. “Helping as a team parent gave me the opportunity to be there for not only my kids, but other children and the program as well. I found that i’ts much easier to be involved than it is to sit on the sidelines and complain about things.”
Vern followed suit the next year. Carson City AYSO, as all leagues across the country, is always short of volunteer officials.
“Just like my wife, I want to be involved in my kids’ loves,” Vern said. “This was a great way to get some much needed exercise, have a lot of fun and see my kids in action. And working with referee coordinator Eric Ingbar, I found that AYSO was always in need for people to help.”
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Vern said that his decision to join the officials corps was easy. “I was out there anyway and I really wanted to be a supportive parent,” he said. “And the best part of it all was that I discovered that out on the field, I have the best seat in the house.”
Their roles have expanded over the years. Colleen is now helping coach Christy’s team. Vern not only officiates 25 games each year, he has taken on the role of U-6 and U-8 refereer coordinator.
“Eric and I co-teach the entry level referee classes,” he said. “We’re finding that the parents are more excited about trying refereeing because we are doing a lot more mentoring this year than before.
“And happily, it’s been a banner year for younger division referee volunteers. We need to keep them for the upper divisions, too.”
Ingbar added that while the younger division referees are in abundance, the upper division volunteer level is off this year.
“It’s a battle to keep people involved past the first few years,” he said. “And when we reach the older kids, U-14, U-16 and U-19, we really tail off in the amount of volunteer time. We’re doing all we can to keep games covered, but we could sure use additional help.
“The people who are out there volunteering are truly appreciated. Not only by the Board of Directors, but by the kids, parents and especially the coaches.”
Being an AYSO volunteer referee is not just for adults. Daniel and Katie watched their dad for four years and thought it looked like fun. So the family sat down together and decided that the kids would take the referee course. And now?
“It’s family referee day in the Krahn family on most Saturdays,” Colleen said. Vern assisted in teaching the kids the rules and proper techniques and mentored them on the field.
“Daniel’s doing a great job on the pitch,” Vern said. “he has the perfect temperment to be a referee.
“He’s great with the kids. He has a quiet, strong presence on the field. And the kids really like him. Rather than thanking him for refereeing their game, Christy’s team just dog piles on him at the end of the game.”
Vern is just as proud of Katie’s work as a referee. “She’s come a long way in a short period of time,” he said. “I still shadow her during games, but I let her make the calls and the decisions. She’s got a great head for the game and is really working hard on her comfort level when approaching adults.”
Daniel said that he really likes to volunteer his time as a referee. “I’ve been doing it for two years,” he said. “We get a free lunch for referee and I really like getting to know the little kids.
“I can get a little power hungry and order people around, but I’m getting better. I even sent my mom off the field in a game the other night.”
While Daniel laughed, Colleen didn’t. “It was technically the right call, but he could have let me finish helping a five year old tie her shoes,” said Colleen jokingly.
Daniel not only plays and referees soccer, but also plays Little Baseball and he’s been swimming for four years.
“I’m also a junior lifeguard and got to shadow a lifeguard this summer,” he said. “It was really cool.”
Katie truly enjoys the official’s job. “I like soccer and being with the younger kids. I really like teaching and Mr. Ingbar said that being a referee is like being a teacher at this level.
“I like doing the safety checks and making the calls. No one has yelled at me and the parents are really great.” Katie plays soccer, baseball and softball. She also donates time in the snack bar.
Colleen and Vern are proud of their kids. “There was no grand plan in this,” Vern said. “Colleen and I just wanted to be involved and encourage the kids. They did the rest.
“Volunteering their time has taught them responsibility and how to give back to their community. It’s given them a better appreciation for the game and given them a great sense of satisfaction in a job well done.”
The Krahn’s civic duty expands past the soccer field. Colleen volunteers in the fourth grade and kindergarten classes at Fritch Elemenatry School, as a team parent in Little League and as a coach softball.
Vern has served as a volunteer soccer official for tournaments, umpires Little League Baseball games and served on the Nevada State Board of Landscape Architecture for nine years. They are both actively involved in the Sunday School program at Hilltop Community Church.
As Vern was finishing discussing the family’s other volunteer work, Katie ran up with a big problem. “Dad, we don’t have a referee for our game,” she said.
Vern simply shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said, “I guess the interview’s over. Time to get to work.”
For more information on donating time as a volunteer for AYSO soccer, call Carson City AYSO, 882-AYSO.