MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines can often be seen moonlighting at facilities on station and in town to supplement their incomes. All the civilian jobs Marines take on require particular skills, but one Marine has found a job that allows him to use Marine skills, apply Marine Corps knowledge and be close to the game he loves so much.
Brian Stelly, network technician, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, applies knowledge he has gained through past experiences before and during his enlistment to refereeing football games on station and in town.
“I work flag football on base, Pop Warner out at the Yuma Scorpions complex on weekends, and freshman through varsity games for various High Schools out in town for the Arizona Inter-athletic Association,” he explained.
Stelly was told about the opportunity by a Roy Mendoza, two-year referee and civilian coworker of Stelly’s, and decided to take it for various reasons.
“He knows I like football, so he offered me the opportunity,” Stelly said. “I decided to take advantage of the opportunity because I love football, and at the moment I am unable to really play. I figured officiating football is as close to playing as I can get right now. Also, it's extra money in the pocket just for being around the sport that I love.”
“He’s always showed interest in the game and has asked me questions in the past about my refereeing,” said Mendoza. “I knew he’d be good for the job because he had good judgment at work and that usually carries over into all things.”
Stelly, a Chicago native, played football for eight years prior to joining the Marine Corps and has refereed in the past. He said although nothing compares to playing football, but refereeing is extremely close to it.
“I have played football since I was in fifth grade and officiated a little bit for fifth through eighth grade games while I was in high school,” he said. “It doesn't quite give you the same adrenaline rush as playing but it is just as fun. Being down on the field and being that close to the game again is a rush in itself.”
Refereeing is a job that requires Stelly to use many of the Marine Corps leadership traits to be effective, including judgment, justice, decisiveness and integrity.
“A lot of traits that we possess as Marines help in officiating,” he said. “For instance, being early for everything, making quick and fair decisions and always doing the right thing are qualities that crossover from the Marine Corps to refereeing. You have to make the right call regardless of which team you prefer.”
Stelly said he takes the job very seriously and has a newly found respect for it.
“There were a few games in my playing days that we thought ref's made bad calls for, but now I know how hard it is to see,” he explained. “I also understand how the ref's probably felt after many of our games with the sidelines and other players complaining about bad calls.”
“It can be tough to see everything that’s happening on the field, especially since we don’t have instant replay capabilities,” said Mendoza. “Stelly works hard and is catching on very quickly. He’s a good ref.”
Stelly said he’s glad he has this opportunity while in Yuma and will continue to take advantage of it.
“I plan on officiating football for the rest of the time I am stationed here, and I plan on officiating for the sport of wrestling too,” he said.