The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is proud to announce the 2021 NPSL Referees of
the Season. The honorees include Ashley Cedro (East Region), Connor Dunn (Midwest Region), Travis Haight (South Region), and Michael Zapata (West Region).
“I am very pleased with the selection of referees who won the award this season,” NPSL Director of Officials Paul Scott said. “There are over a hundred referees in the four regions and these officials have risen above the others. Each working hard to earn this achievement. They represent the future of refereeing in U.S. Soccer. I would like to thank the National Assignors and team owners who recognized those officials who deserved nomination. Too often referees are an afterthought. Also, a thank you to the selection committee who took the time sifting through all of the worthy nominations.”
Cedro has been involved in soccer most of her life. She played throughout her childhood in Buffalo, NY and continued through college where she was a member of the 2004 NJCAA National Championship team. She has been officiating soccer since 1997, and has officiated several youth US National Championship events as well as several NCAA playoff games and finals. Officiating is a large piece of her life as she regularly works games for her local leagues including the Buffalo District Soccer League (BDSL) and the Buffalo Junior League.
As well as working to be the best referee she can be, she has worked as a personal trainer since 2007 creating a life as a wife and mother of two young children. She is the co-owner of Southtowns Training Studio, inc. a private personal training studio in Orchard Park, NY.
“It is an honor to be selected as my region’s NPSL Referee of the Season for 2021,” Cedro said. “It has been a while since I could regularly work games at this level and I am overjoyed to see my work has paid off via my assignments this year. I see the award as validation of my hard work and ongoing commitment to officiating and the entire soccer community.”
Dunn started refereeing when he was 13 years old in 2009 working mostly local games and later high school games while he was still in high school. After graduating high school, he started traveling to US Youth Regionals, Developmental Academy events, the US Youth Soccer National Championships, and NPSL games, along with officiating college soccer. In addition to his active refereeing, he also serves as the SYRA, mentoring and instructing new referees and referees at regional events. Outside of officiating, he’s a middle school math teacher and private tutor.
“It’s an honor to be selected for the Midwest Region Referee of the Season, and I’m incredibly grateful for the people I have in my life both in and out of the referee world that have supported me in countless ways during my development in officiating and as a person,” Dunn said. “All of the backing and opportunities I have received wouldn’t have made this award or my referee career and development possible. Thank you to the Minnesota referee family, from the referee coaches and assignors to state administrators to fellow referees. I look forward to continuing to referee in the NPSL and following wherever my referee career path takes me.”
Haight works for Red Bull North America as a Regional Account Manager based in Dallas, TX, calling on U.S. military bases. Additionally, he has officiated at all levels, including youth regionals, national tournaments, international friendlies, U.S. Open Cup, MLS Next, USL, USL 2, and NPSL. He currently owns Grade 5 certification and is striving for his national badge.
“First, I want to congratulate my colleagues from the other regions whom I have the privilege of sharing this award with,” Haight said. “I am extremely humbled and grateful to receive this recognition. I’d like to thank my wife Katelyn and my two sons Talan and Maddox for being my biggest supporters as I travel across the country doing matches. I also want to thank all those who have been and continue to be instrumental in my development as a referee. Starting with all my Oklahoma friends that provided me a roadmap as I was just starting my referee career, then onto New Mexico, and now the NTX Team for the last seven years. The entire NTX Texas team has always had my back in my endeavors. Thank you to the mentors and coaches for their valuable feedback which has been essential in my growth, and the assignors who believed in me and offered challenging assignments to grow my career.”
Zapata is a high school physics teacher from Fresno, California. This is his 20th year as a soccer official. As a young teen, he wanted to make money doing a job he knew would be fun. What started as a weekend, seasonal gig turned into a year-round profession, made possible by the dozens of influential referee figures who invested and believed in him along the way.
“To be selected to represent my region with this honor means a lot,” Zapata said. “The friends and peers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working make the time worth it, and I am but one of many capable and equally-dedicated referees in my region. The leadership in California North paves the way in providing its referees with quality education and learning experiences. I am thankful to be a product of this region, and for the many refereeing opportunities that I am lucky enough to have been afforded. If I can lead by example, it is with hard work and the dedication to continue to learn and improve with every opportunity.”