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The Referee, the Comic, the Legend- Bill Collins

If you know soccer, you know Bill Collins. In addition to Bill Collins’ many incredible accomplishments in his life so far in theater and raising his children, Bill has been deeply involved in the Redding soccer community. Bill first started his soccer experience in 1980, coaching for his sons, and continued coaching for them all the way through high school. He has four sons, two daughters, 8 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild! He became a referee in 1999 in Petaluma, California and has been one ever since, although at 82 he is ready to retire. That is 20 years of coaching and over 20 years of being a referee! One of Bill’s main playing experiences was his participation in an adult tournament in France. Not only was Bill a referee but also a State Referee Instructor. Beginning in 2004, he has taught and trained roughly one thousand referees, some of which have gone on to become professional referees. Alek Pinnell (pictured alongside Bill) was one of his greatest referees and will potentially be filling some of Bill’s roles in future seasons.

There is no doubt that Bill still has it in him to continue with soccer, but he has been enjoying his time at home working on his autobiography, house projects, and yard work with his wife. Bill said he still had some big oak trees laying in his yard that were knocked down from the snowstorms we had a couple winters ago, so he has been working tirelessly to get them cleaned up along with other shrubbery around his house. His primary focus, however, has been writing his autobiography, in which he is including some of his fun life experiences and major accomplishments. Bill was a part of the Keyhole Mystery/Comedy Dinner Theater, in which he would perform at restaurants. He also, for over 10 years, sang jingles for various companies that donated to Win-River Casino. He even mentioned his time at recording studios in San Francisco and the time in his career when he sang jingles for an assortment of commercials. Being an outstanding coach and referee are only two of Bill’s many amazing talents. You can read more about his life in theater in the article by Jon Lewis from Enjoy Magazine of Northern California, entitled “The many Talents of Bill Collins.”

I asked Mr. Collins what his favorite memories were out of all his soccer experiences and he shared two heart-warming stories with me. The memory that has always seemed to stick with him from his time coaching happened when he was a coach for a U8 team that his youngest son was on. There was one little boy on the team who couldn’t run very fast because of a physical disability. He happened to be standing all the way across the field, by the goal, when the ball got kicked right in front of him, he quickly turned and kicked it in the goal. The boy turned towards Bill with wide eyes and a priceless expression on his face, as he yelled “Coach Collins, Coach Collins! I scored a goal!” His most memorable moment as a referee occurred when he was sitting out in the parking lot after officiating a game. One of the teams from that game had come all the way from Sacramento and had lost. As the losing team walked to their cars the coach walked up to Bill who was sitting in his car and complimented him on his officiating skills and for doing a great job during that game. Bill said it really spoke volumes to hear that he had done such a great job from the losing team. It truly does show just how fairly he ran his games. One thing Bill said he always tried to get across to his players and trainees was that the game is not about winning and losing, it is about playing the game “honestly and honorably” and focusing on the “joy of the game.”

As a referee of over 20 years, Bill was the perfect person to ask how the California Soccer Park field replacement will benefit its users in the future. Bill says that, for years, he has dealt with shaking the hot rubber infill out of his shoes between games and during halves and the roasting field surfaces. Switching to Geo Plus natural infill by Hellas Construction will decrease the fields’ surface temperatures by up to 40 degrees. Not only will they be cooler than rubber fields, but players and referees will not have to deal with getting hot rubber stuck in their shoes! We can’t wait to have players, coaches, and referees back out here on the new fields!

Thank you, Bill, for all your years of giving back!

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