Lee Suckle Biography

What American little kid in the early 80’s didn’t play recreational soccer when they were 4 or 5 years old? I did and continued to play, all the way through high school at different levels in the country and overseas while my father served in the Air Force. In 1994 I was a junior in high school and refereeing seemed like a good way to pay for car insurance and gas money rather than working at a McDonald’s. I ran lines in the Northern California Ethnic Amateur leagues with my dad and it opened my eyes to a whole new game of soccer, fast and physical play. Moving to the St. Louis area, my senior year of high school, I continued refereeing and started blowing the whistle in youth games. ’96 was the first year I was invited to officiate in the Illinois State Cup and was able to upgrade to a State Referee. I was introduced to, at the time, State Referee Kari Seitz and worked with FIFA Referee Richard Grady. That same year I was invited to the Region II Youth Regionals tournament. This was the turning point in my career. I concluded the tournament with the u14 boy’s final, Vardar of Michigan vs Scott Gallagher of St. Louis. This match was watched by numerous future FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees (Seitz, Vaughn, Kermit, and Gansner). To this day Seitz still remembers the match and I have kept the game card in my referee wallet for every game I do since.

Over the next three years, I traveled the region and country to different tournaments and camps (ODP, USA Cup, Dallas Cup, WAGS, Warrior Classic, Capital Cup, etc.) gaining experiences, working with, talking with, and watching games with other referees and assessors. Some of that advice has stuck with me to this day and I pass it along as well. In 1998 I was one of four referees chosen for the Youth National Finals from Region II. The following summer I decided to move closer to my family and came to NY.

Here in ENY I quickly found where I wanted to go, Amateur matches. Eager to move up and join the others on the horizon that I knew from Region II and around the country. Granted, it was hard work to find my niche since the assignors and administrators did not know who I was. I worked line after line for our veteran officials, Boris, Wolfe, Visone, Dequila, and Heller just to name a few. After some time, I was given the opportunity to work D2, D3 and Reserve matches. Before I knew it, I was doing the first division matches in every single league we had. I represented ENY at the Region I Youth Regionals from ’00-’02. Again I was chosen in ’02 to attend the Youth National Finals. In ’03 as a National Candidate, I attended a number of amateur tournaments and events (Regionals, Nationals, and Donnelly Cup) as well as involved in International club friendly matches and the USL.

2004 was my 1st National Referee Camp and I received one of the biggest accomplishments of my career, a National Referee Badge. That year I attended two different academies where, at the Nike Friendlies, I was told to prepare for the MLS the following year. 2005 was the year I experienced a whole new world of Professional Soccer. My first 4th official, at Giants Stadium, the fans were so loud and screaming at us in the tunnel and I remember turning to the assessors behind us mouthing “Wow” in such awe.

My first whistle in Columbus, with my family in the crowd, was an amazing experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I had one more MLS middle that year with a childhood hero on the field with me, Kobi Jones. In my first year in the MLS, I did a number of 4th officials and middles in the Reserve Div and USL 1st Division. I whistle the USL 2nd Division Final West Mass Pioneers vs Richmond Kickers, with an all ENY crew that year.

Over the course of my National Referee career I would spend time working as a 4th official in the MLS and Center Referee in the MLS Reserve and USL in the US, P.R., Bermuda, and Canada, while also getting an opportunity to attend various Academies (Dallas Cup, Nike Friendly, MLS combine) and blowing the whistle and running lines in International and International Club Friendly matches (clubs from: Guatemala, Hondurus, Brazil, Jamaica, El Salvador, Mexico  countries: Canada, New Zealand, USA, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador).

In 2009 I was able to whistle the Club America v Chicago Fire staring Blanco in Soldier Field, 4th official Super Liga with a FIFA Jamaican crew, and blow the whistle for the quarter final US Open Cup match. After many experiences and memories, at the end of 2010, I decided to retire as a National Professional Referee.

Off the field I have been an instructor since 1999 and currently am a State Instructor doing classes and clinics all over the state and more recently for other State Associations. I became a National Assessor in 2012. Currently I assess matches at all levels other than MLS. How the world turns, I was given the opportunity to Assess FIFA Referee Kari Seitz this past June, NWSL match, just before she retires from the FIFA list this year. I have recently been appointed to the LAC position here in ENY and have been involved with helping develop the referees in the ENY Elite Referee Program since March of 2012.

This has been an overview of some of my career accomplishments. We all have them and we all have the low lights, which I have as well. The most important thing that has come from all of this, as I look back through all the memories, stories, and accomplishments, is the friendships that have developed on and off the field. I could not have made it to where I did without help from fellow referees such as Gonzalez, Sanchez, Ambrus, Archuletta, Prus, Mitchell, Leiter, and Butler just to name a few. Assessors such as Gino (Pops), Kleinstauber, Esse, Gomez, Bratsis, and McKee, just to name a few. Administrators like Turchi, Horna, Huber, Tambo, Vargas, Lucisic, and Motta. Allow me to thank all who have helped me to achieve what I have. It has been a fantastic journey, that continues and that could not have been done without you. 

Lee Suckle
National Referee Emeritus Grade 13
National Assessor Grade 3
State Instructor Grade 5
ENY Elite Referee Program Director  2012-2013