By Jonathan Hodgson
Sport Officials Surrendered (S.O.S) is excited to introduce our operations and advisory team.
S.O.S was founded in 2018 by with the mission to foster community among Christian officials at all levels of all sports so that they can encourage one another in their faith journeys in their daily life and in their jobs as officials.
S.O.S has assembled an outstanding operations team to look after daily operations, and has been blessed to be joined by some of the most accomplished officials in their respective sports who comprise the advisory team. The advisory team contributes specialized content from officials for officials to the S.O.S website and social media channels.
Additionally, the headline annual event on the S.O.S calendar is Referees Embracing Faith Conference “REF Conference”. The event brings together sport officials from all levels of all sports, to worship God together and listen to powerful and inspiring faith-rooted messages from the professional officials on the S.O.S advisory team. S.O.S has partnered with REF LIFE (www.reflifegear.com) as the official clothing brand of REF Conference.
REF Conference 2019 will take place on August 17 in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio with keynote speaker Ted Barrett. Further updates regarding REF Conference 2019 including ticket information, will be announced in the near future and periodically leading up to the event.
Dan & Alicia DiFolco, Co-Founders
Dan and Alicia make their home in Ellensburg, WA where Dan is a college basketball official and Alicia is a registered dietitian currently working in a long-term care facility while pursuing her master’s degree in nutrition from Central Washington University (CWU).
Dan, a native of Littleton, CO, is a former college baseball player and a political science graduate of CWU. Alicia previously completed her Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training School in Colorado Springs, CO after graduating from high school in her hometown of Olympia, WA.
Dan and Alicia are in close communication with the operations and advisory teams on projects for S.O.S platforms and preparations for REF Conference 2019.
Jonathan Hodgson, Communications
Jonathan is a communications professional with an extensive background in baseball as a journalist and broadcaster. He currently resides in Victoria, BC and will return to his hometown of Okotoks, Alberta in May where he is the play-by-play broadcaster and communications assistant for the Okotoks Dawgs summer collegiate baseball club. He is also a featured writer for Sports Spectrum where he interviews and writes about the faith stories of Christians in sports.
Jonathan leads S.O.S communications which includes writing website content and overseeing the S.O.S social media platforms. He also communicates closely with the advisory team, generating new ideas for content and interaction from the advisory team.
Nick Donaldson, Social Media
Nick is a native of Clatskanie, OR and currently attends CWU where he is pursuing his degree in business management. He played football and baseball in high school and has previously served in children’s ministry at his local churches in Ellensburg, WA and in Scottsdale, AZ.
Nick assists in the maintenance of the S.O.S social media platforms and collaborates with Hodgson as well as Dan & Alicia DiFolco in the generation and implementation of new outreach ideas for the ministry.
Fraher is in his 18th season as a referee in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has officiated more than 1,000 NBA games and 42 playoff games including multiple playoff assignments and the 2015 NBA All Star Game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
A native of Hastings, MN, Fraher began officiating at 17-years old, and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to being hired by the NBA prior to the 2001-02 season, Fraher officiated in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) for four.
Fraher and fellow S.O.S advisor Darron George co-founded Elevate Officiating Camps in 2010, aimed at expanding upon traditional training for basketball referees.
Fraher spoke at the inaugural REF Conference in Allen, TX in August of 2018, and contributes content to the S.O.S website and social media platforms aimed specifically for sport officials of faith.
Since becoming an NCAA Div. I basketball referee in 2000, George has officiated in eight NCAA Tournaments, twice advancing to the regional rounds. He grew up in southern California and officiated his first high school basketball game in 1993.
George and Fraher were two of the key visionaries behind the establishment of REF Conference. George served as the emcee of REF Conference 2018 at his home church, Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, TX, and contributes content to the S.O.S website and social media platforms.
Barrett joined the full-time Major League Baseball (MLB) umpiring staff in 1999 and umpired four American League (AL) Wild Card Games, eight Division and League Championship Series, and four World Series. Barrett was appointed as a crew chief in 2013 and was crew chief for the 2018 World Series. The native of North Tonawanda, NY is tied for the most no-hitters umpired as a home plate umpire with three, and is the only umpire to ever work home plate for multiple perfect games.
Barrett earned his degree in theological studies from Trinity Theological Seminary. In 2004, Barrett co-founded Calling for Christ, a faith-based fellowship of major league and minor league umpires. He also serves with UMPS CARE Charities, the charitable arm of the MLB Umpires Association.
Barrett will be the keynote speaker at REF Conference 2019 on August 17 in Mason Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.
Koch has been a referee since 2012, officiating at the high school, NCAA and professional levels. A native of Vassar, MI and graduate of Olivet Nazarene University, Koch is a worship leader at Second Chance Church in his hometown of Plainfield, IN, and founded The Present Day Man in 2016 with a heart to educate and mentor men in the biblical meaning of manhood.
Koch led worship at REF Conference 2018 and contributes to S.O.S platforms.
S.O.S co-founder Dan DiFolco:
“I believe that the calibre of the staff that God has blessed us with strongly reiterates and validates God’s calling on sport officials,” DiFolco said. “Thanks to our team, we are able to pour out His love through the overflow of God’s grace to all those we come into contact with, and encourage other officials to do the same, game in and game out. All of us at Team S.O.S have no other desire than to be ‘living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God,’ as I believe has been evident through all we have done so far including REF Conference 2018, and we pray it will continue as we head towards REF Conference 2019,” he said.
S.O.S is available for contact by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. S.O.S offers an email subscription service, which notifies subscribers of content and news updates including updates on REF Conference 2019 before it is made available to the general public.
S.O.S is always excited to partner with other likeminded members of the officiating and faith families, and are openminded to new possibilities. Email us if you are interested or would like to talk to us to learn more!