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September 2, 2022

Employee Profile – Jervis Atagana, Transportation Engineer and National Soccer Referee

Horner & Shifrin’s flexible work schedules allow Employee-Owners to pursue passions outside the office

For Jervis Atagana, like many, the love of sports came very early.  He was drawn to the soccer pitch, but unlike those scrimmaging on the field, Jervis was content to watch keenly from the sidelines, not as a mere spectator, but as a referee.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Atagana has been refereeing soccer matches since age 12.  Jervis began his referee journey in youth soccer, a part of the US Soccer Federation (USSF) under the Grassroots pathway umbrella.  Over the past 18 years, he has worked his way to the level of National Referee, a position from which he is able to officiate games at the professional adult level.  Additionally, Jervis refs Division One college games in conferences such as the SEC and the Big 12.

“My favorite part is getting it right,” Atagana says.  “It can be a split-second decision that makes all the difference in a game.  It’s all about being in the right frame of mind, making sure you are in the right position, making sure you are communicating with your team.  It’s just all about the challenge of being there and getting it right.”

Jervis is currently working as a referee for the United Soccer League (USL) while in a development group for the PRO Pathway.  “My goal is to make it to the MLS, and even potentially make it all the way to becoming a FIFA referee one day.”  Despite the narrow odds of making it to the FIFA level, Jervis has the numbers on his side; he is one of only two National Level Referees in Missouri.  “It is nice to have made it this far, period.  Even if my refereeing ended tomorrow, I’ve enjoyed the ride.  I get to travel twice a week and have gone across the country.”

With a season that starts in March and runs through October, Jervis typically referees one or two games per week, between the professional leagues and college conferences.  And with games taking place at any time during the week, and spanning a large geographic area, the packed calendar and constant travel can be intense.  “I’ve traveled as far west as Los Angeles, east to New York, and as far south as El Paso.  I could not do this without the support of my wife and family, and my adaptable work schedule,” says Jervis.  During his eight-year tenure at H&S, he has made use of the flexible schedule option, to balance his professional roadway engineering work with his passion for refereeing.

At Horner & Shifrin, employees can opt into flexible schedules, including the shifting of start/end times during the day, making up time off within a given week, and compressed schedules to allow for one Friday off per two-week period.  Atagana has leveraged this policy to do both his engineering work at H&S and travel for games.

“This year, I’ve had several games that are scheduled on Wednesdays.  Typically, I’ll travel out the night before, the game is in the evening, and then travel back the following day.  What’s great about my managers is that I’ll tell them when I will be out, and they adjust my workload.  Most of the time, because of our flexible schedules, I don’t even have to use PTO, since I can make up my hours.” 

Jervis has advanced in his career at Horner & Shifrin, rising to the level of Project Engineer and even earning his Professional Engineering license, all while following his dream of being a professional soccer referee.

Jervis acknowledges that the encouragement of his team’s leadership has allowed him to pursue this passion.

“I have very supportive managers.  Jarrett (Jasper) and Ramin (Ashrafzadeh) will watch my games if they happen to be on tv.  One day, I was flying home from a game in New York, and Ramin happened to be on the plane with me.  He sat and listened to every detail about refereeing, and he was really intrigued by it.  It was really cool.”

You can catch Jervis Atagana refereeing on ESPN+!

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