Lisa Sansregret has seen stars shine on the soccer field.
But the East Kildonan resident was ready to be in the spotlight on March 15 as she was receiving the Manitoba Soccer Association’s outstanding official award at its annual awards banquet.
"It is a great honour to even be considered for this award," Sansregret said. "A lot of the big guys have received this award, so to even be on the same page as them is quite exceptional."
Sansregret has refereed upwards of 1,000 games over 19 seasons and is the MSA’s longest-serving female official. She said one of her most special memories is of seeing Desiree Scott – who won a bronze medal at the Summer Olympic Games in London in 2012 – play for the first time at an indoor tournament.
"She would have been 12, maybe 13 at the time. She wasn’t involved with (FC) Northwest. She wasn’t even playing premier (level) yet," Sansregret recalled. "I watched this kid go and I thought ‘Oh my God, I’ve never seen anyone put the shoulder down (to get past an opponent) like that.’"
Sansregret also recalls having to give Scott a yellow card for making a slide tackle "annihilating" another player, as slide tackling isn’t allowed in the indoor game. Since the surface was green, she said Scott instinctually thought of the outdoor grass, a mistake Sansregret admitted also making as a player, and the two laughed off the incident.
Sansregret also recalls comforting a fellow goalie of a team that lost 1-0 in a title matchup.
"A forward went up to the goalie and yelled at her, and the kid started to cry," she said. "She said ‘It’s all my fault we lost’, and I said ‘Did your team score?’
"Sometimes it’s just helping those kids, that’s what it’s about."
Sansregret said she considered quitting five years into her officiating career, but was talked out of it by her fellow referees, whom she thanked for encouraging her to stick with it.
Sansregret first started playing soccer in 1990 with CCC United, and got involved in refereeing when her son, Reuel, began playing soccer through the East Kildonan YMCA. She started as an MSA official in 1995, receiving assignments to work provincial finals, but is disappointed she got involved too late to make it to a larger stage.
"I was 33 already, so unfortunately, there was no hope for me to be a national referee. I started too late in life," she said. "Those doors weren’t open for me at all."
Sansregret boosted her commitment to the organization three years ago when she added the roles of assessor and educator to her docket.
"I forgot how well I work with children and how much kids like me," said Sansregret, who volunteered as a leader for Boy Scouts for a decade.
Sansregret also owns and runs the Gateway Celtic club in the Winnipeg Women’s Soccer League, a team she will play for if it needs a spare, while she plays for the Wasps of that league’s Masters 1 division. As well, she serves as the secretary for the Manitoba Soccer Referees' Association.