OLATHE, Kan. — We all know that youth sports can get intense. Passionate parents and spectators sometimes take out their frustrations with the game on umpires and referees.
But after the death of a much-loved youth soccer referee, it has become his family’s mission to encourage all sports fans to think twice before they lose their cool.
At the Kansas state cup soccer tournament at Garmin Olathe, the soccer complex has the story of a man whose life has become a legacy of kindness.
Blaine Hoagland knew the pressure all too well as a youth soccer coach, referee, and field marshal for more than 17 years.
Hoagland was also known on the pitch, and on the sidelines as the master of de-escalation.
“There is no situation I haven’t faced where Blaine was not able to get control and de-escalate and prevents from escalating any situations anymore,” Kansas State Soccer, Director of Referee Development Gordie Wetmore said.
The whole soccer community felt the gut-punch when Blaine Hougland was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago. The community supported the Hougland family during the cancer fight, and Saturday, they honor Hougland with a very special ceremony called the final whistle.
“We called it to whistle to the heavens so that he can hear us from above and know that we loved him but we’ll continue,” Wetmore said.
Go Blue for Blaine is a new campaign of kindness started in Hoagland’s honor. The message is for fans to keep calm during the heat of competition, by taking very specific steps that he modeled every single game.
“He would be proud of his family for keeping his legacy going,” Blaine Hougland’s wife Connie Hougland said. “Especially would be proud of his soccer family and community that keeps leaning in and doing the hard jobs that love so well.”
It’s only been two months since Hougland died. Emotions are still pretty raw, but the family and the Kansas City soccer community are planning other events to promote the go blue for his legacy.
You can learn more or donate to the cause at the go blue for Baine website