Up Close with J.C. Cummings

Up Close with J.C. Cummings

  1. How did you first become involved with DC Stoddert Soccer?

I started officiating in 1998.  I still played on Sundays back then, so I needed a Saturday league.  My good friend Andy Zirpoli introduced me to the Referee Coordinator and I’ve been officiating Saturday matches for Stoddert for 16 years.


  1. Describe your role and responsibilities as a Referee. How do you prepare for a day on the pitch? Are there certain routines you go through before you begin the day?

My primary responsibility is to keep the game safe; after that I want to fit my officiating to the skill level and experience of the players so they play as free and as hard as they want.

My pre-game routine includes stretching and warming up, similar to when I was a player.  As I go to the field, I usually practice the communication I will need if I have a partner or colleague referees.


  1. What’s the most challenging aspect to your service as a referee?

I love the game, so I don’t feel a lot of “challenges” in officiating, but one comes to mind:  if a player has to be cautioned, I need to keep that players’ number and face in mind; I don’t want to be like the poor British referee who had to caution a player three times before he was sent off (the player, not the referee, but maybe they both needed a break)!

  1. What do you like most about officiating youth soccer games?

One of the benefits of Sport is having a chance to develop teamwork and leadership.  If the managers allow the players to run their own game, it’s very cool to see kids guide and support each other.  I’m watching the future take shape; I’m hopeful!


  1. Where did you grow up? Was soccer a sport that you or other members of your family played?

I was born in DC.  When I started playing, the sport was so unfamiliar in America that my family had no idea what I was doing.  It was perfect: I played, they watched; that’s all.


  1. Describe your memories as a child/teenager playing the game. Did you play for a high-profile club or youth national team? Were you able to travel overseas to compete?

When I played as a kid, we needed to leave one or two kids on the sidelines as look-outs in case the dinosaurs came to eat us!  There may have been national teams somewhere, but I had no idea they existed.  No way would I have been good enough.  I played because I loved the game.

  1. What brought you to the Washington, DC metropolitan area?

  2. What do you do for a living? How long have you been in this profession?

I’m an Architect.  I have had my own business since 1991.  When recommending me to be hired, my first client told my second client that I was only working to support my football (soccer) habit.  By then, I was involved in club play and traveled a lot to play in friendly tournaments.  I volunteered for the host committee of several tournaments, including the World Cup in 1994, the Olympics in 1996, and the IGLFA host committees in 1997 and 2009.  My passion for architecture and design is nearly equal to my passion for football; I won’t tell you which is greater.


  1. When not on the soccer pitch, what kinds of things do you enjoy/look forward to doing?

I’m a pretty dedicated movie hound.  I see most films in the cinema.  I spend the rest of my free time trying to keep up with school friends, football buddies, and any of my gigantic family I can catch.


  1. Pick three adjectives that best describe you and your personality.

Wow.  Ok: out-going, interested (in people and things around me), hoping (to leave things a little better than how I find them).


  1. What advice would you give young referees who are just starting their careers? Have you helped mentor junior referees that are involved with DC Stoddert Soccer?

Take all games seriously; do your best; call the game you see; and make your position correct so no one on the side line can ever have a justifiable reason to complain.  I have learned a lot from the referees I have admired, so I try to emulate their courtesy when it makes sense.


  1. Who do you think will win this summer’s World Cup in Brazil?

The USA, of course; or someone else; but it will be the best loss of productive work time in four years!


  1. Which professional players would you choose in your starting XI? Why?

I’m from a time in history (seriously: before color television) when it was not possible to watch high level football.  I just never got the habit.

This is a true story: I used to play pick-up football on Sundays with Gillian Barnes; she was an excellent player and a lot of fun to be around.  One Sunday, her brother John visited DC and he joined us.  He was a great guy and very good player.  It turns out he is John Barnes, MBE (former Liverpool great; seriously great) and I had no idea whom he was!  What a life I’ve had; blind enough to be a ref!