In 2016 the Heartland Board of Directors authorized the Referee Development Program to recognize officials that made exceptional contributions to the Heartland ecosystem. The following awards were initiated:
- Iron Man Award: The recipients of this award demonstrate a commitment to Heartland by officiating 100 or more matches. They are there for the players when it is hot, cold, dry or raining. They go above and beyond and are key contributors to both FAIR PLAY and the development of our new officials.
- Assistant Referee Outstanding Performance: Each match is staffed by two Assistant Referees whose successful performance is essential to the match. Being an Assistant Referee requires an understanding of the Laws of the Game, the ability to focus and the fitness to keep up with play. The winners in this category are recognized by the players, coaches and the Referees as “the best”.
- Mentors and Field Marshalls of the Year: Mentors focus on the development of our Referees. Field Marshalls focus on the enjoyment of the Heartland Soccer experience by the fans. Field Marshalls help get people to the fields, manage the schedule, and when necessary intervene for player safety or sideline control. Everyone who serves in these roles delivers essentials to our ecosystem and is thanked. These awards recognize those individuals who performed consistently at the highest levels amongst their peers.
- Rookies of the Year: The candidates for this award are Referees in their first full year of their career. Everyone who becomes a Referee works hard to develop the skills and demeanor that will help them be successful. Again, this award is for those who have distinguished themselves by their performance in the beginning of their career.
- Most Improved: The Heartland players, coaches and fans expect the best performance from their Referees. This category of awards was designed to reward experienced Referees who are doing those extra things to become the best they can be.
- Heartland Referee of the Year: This award recognizes the Referee whose consistent and effective performance exemplifies the best of the Heartland Referee staff.