A Lincoln-Way North High School student athlete has been named the 2011 Illinois Young Soccer Female Referee of the Year by Illinois Youth Soccer.
Michelle Balcerzak, a senior at Lincoln-Way North, was notified recently that she had been selected for her extraordinary accomplishments on and off the field, including her moral and ethical behavior, her promotion of the game, leadership skills and involvement in the community.
She will be honored at the Illinois Youth Soccer Awards Banquet on March 9.
“Michelle has been a great contributor to the feeling of family we enjoy at Lincoln-Way North,” stated Dr. Michael Gardner, principal of Lincoln-Way North. “Michelle gives her best effort no matter what the task or circumstance. She is an example of what young America should be about–hard work and contributing to society. I am not surprised Michelle has had such a great career or is earning such lofty accolades. She is a special person.”
Lincoln-Way North High School physics teacher and head soccer coach Michael Murphy praised Michelle for her hard work on the field as well as in the classroom in a letter of recommendation to the Illinois Youth Soccer program.
“Michelle ranks in the top 10 percent of her class,” he wrote, explaining how the high school senior is enthusiastic about her studies and always gives 110 percent effort.
“Her written work (is) of the highest quality,” he continued. “Michelle also shows tremendous promise in her ability to develop a line of inquiry. Her questions (in physics class) were always of second and third order. They were questions that prove Michelle’s ability to be imaginable and insightful.”
The coach and teacher also praised Michelle for her leadership skills and participation in extracurricular activities, including Key Club, Snowball, Pi Sigma Pi, Psychology Club and National Honor Society.
“Michelle’s commitment to involvement does not start and end in the classroom,” he wrote.
She has been a varsity starter on the school’s girls soccer team since her freshman year and has earned numerous accolades. Last year, she was named SWSC All Conference and IHSSCA All Sectional. She also has been recognized as an All-Area player in many local newspapers.
“Michelle has done an excellent job at balancing both academics and athletics,” said Murphy.
The student athlete began refereeing in 2008 and quickly worked her way up from recreational games to high-level competitive games to become a Grade 8 ref. According to Illinois Youth Soccer, she has shown the tremendous ability to make calls based on the action of the match and not because of yelling players, coaches or players. She also makes an extra effort to instruct the younger players so they can better understand the calls and further develop their game.
With her win as Illinois Young Female Referee of the Year, Michelle has also earned a nomination for the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Young Female Referee of the Year.