Katie Nesbitt, the first American woman to referee a World Cup, is living her dream after teaching chemistry:

Team USA kicks off its first appearance world Cup Since 2014 on Mondays. But another American who has qualified for the competition is also making headlines: Katie Nesbitt, the first American woman to compete in the men’s World Cup.

It’s a role she spent a lifetime preparing for — in some unexpected ways.

“I can honestly say I’m living my dream, and it was the biggest dream I’ve had,” Nesbitt told CBS News.

“It’s such an honor that I get to do this and represent a female referee in this way and represent my country,” she said.

The assistant referee, who had already officiated at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and the men’s league championship in the US, was chosen as one of just six women – a first – among more than 100 male officials at the World Cup. are joining.

“Honestly, it felt like something impossible that could never happen, so it was the most unreal feeling,” she said of being selected.

MLS and World Cup referee Katy Nesbitt
Katie Nesbitt (C) walks onto the pitch with fellow referees Timothy Ford (L) and Kevin Locke (R) for warm-ups before the game between Minnesota United FC and LAFC at Allianz Field on September 13, 2022 in St. Paul, Minnesota Huh. ,

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The 34-year-old first got into refereeing by helping out at her brother’s soccer games. It later became something she could make money from. But as a child, he never thought that this could become a career.

“Everyone asks why I … stuck with it, and I’m still not sure sometimes,” she said with a laugh.

Nesbitt stuck with it while still competing as a figure skater, and then trying a different experiment: a career in chemistry.

“I fell in love with chemistry when I was in high school,” she said. “And my high school teacher blew something up and I was like, ‘Okay, this might work for me.’

She earned her PhD studying the brain chemistry of traumatically injured patients and became professor of chemistry at Towson University in Maryland.

“I had two computers set up in my office, one so I could analyze my data, and the other so I could keep up with every World Cup match,” she said.

But with two passions, she said she feels the stress of not being able to put her best foot forward in either one. She began chasing the full-time referee.

Women have blown the whistle in major men’s sports for a while now. Violet Palmer became the first woman to referee an NBA game a quarter century ago, and last year, Sarah Thomas Made history by becoming the first woman to referee a Super Bowl. She was part of a seven-man crew working Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay.

But Nesbitt said she didn’t want to stand out.

She said, “I chose to wear my hair in a bun and not a ponytail because I … wanted … to look like … every other referee.”

However, she admits that this was not always the case, including times when she faced sexism.

“Everything has been done from my looks to the comments,” he added. “Sure it was difficult. Um, but it also fuels your fire a little bit.”

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