UVM student earns flag football officiating award

One UVM junior was recently nationally recognized for his work as a flag football referee.

That student is Elvis Lizardo and he was named one of 10 All-American flag football referees in the nation.

Growing up, Lizardo, who lived in both the Dominican Republic and New York City, was not heavily involved in football.

However, he said he has always been a fan of sports in general.

He didn’t get involved with officiating until an opportunity presented itself that began as “pure luck,” Lizardo said.

“As an incoming first-year, I got an email from Campus Recreation about open positions as an intramural official,” he said.

“So I applied, a couple of weeks later I had a phone interview and the rest is history.”

“Honestly, I don’t like watching football,” Lizardo admitted.

However he went on to say that, “After getting a taste of officiating flag football, and seeing the challenge that it was, I gained interest in going to regional tournaments to get better.”

After three years of honing his skills, Lizardo has steadily climbed the officiating ladder till recently reaching the top rung of “All-American.”

Lizardo said his favorite part of being an official is “being challenged during every game,” but he also recognizes that the role comes with an array of difficulties as well.

“A lot of people think it’s easy to officiate, and that really discredits what we do as officials because it is not easy,” he said.

“I understand that people have their fandoms, but it is never okay to dehumanize someone based on their occupation.”

Alex Start previously worked alongside Lizardo and now works as UVM’s intramural sports coordinator.

“Elvis is a very positive person,” Start said.

“He brings good energy wherever he goes,” he said.

“On the field, Elvis takes charge of the games he officiates and aims to provide the best experience possible for the participants,” Start said.

Lizardo is on track to graduate in 2017, and said there’s “no doubt” that he will continue officiating after graduation.

He also plans to start officiating high school football.

UVM offers a seven-on-seven flag football league during the fall semester and will be trying out a new four-on-four league this spring, according to Campus Recreation.

Lizardo said he would love to see the game grow at UVM and encourages those who are hesitant to join.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to be called soft because they think flag football isn’t a real sport,” he said. “It would be nice to grow our flag football program in terms of teams and officials.”