In a smaller southwestern town, Avery Ngo is not the prototypical face one would think of as an athlete and now a multi-sport referee in New Mexico. Ngo played multiple sports growing up and holds a special connection with sports as an adult currently attending New Mexico Tech. El Defensor Chieftain sat down with him about his journey from being on the field to blowing the whistle on the sidelines.
Q: What brought you to Socorro or were you born and raised here?
A: Technically I was born in Albuquerque but yep I’m a Socorro native. My father is from Vietnam and came to the country to attend New Mexico Tech years ago and he met my mom while living here in Socorro where she has also spent a large portion of her life.
Q: Did you participate in any sports growing up here in Socorro?
A: I did and miss it so much. I played basketball, soccer, ran track and swam all throughout high school. Soccer was my favorite. I was better at it but for some reason the way the game flows always made me feel the most comfortable. I can’t explain it.
Q: Other than your part time duties as a referee, what else do you do outside of the court or field.
A: Fortunately I’m not too worried about having to pay the bills too much yet which gives me the opportunity to do this. I am currently a student at Tech and focused most on going to school and earning my degree in whatever way or path I have to take. A few years back I was trying too hard to control my future which you can’t. So now it’s one thing at a time. Keep it simple.
Q: What type of benefits do you get out of being a referee?
A: I enjoy seeing the kids come up in the same way that I came up and enjoying the sport that they love, whatever that may be. The extra cardio workout running up and down the field is also an added bonus. It does not matter what level, sports will always be so exciting to me.
Q: Is there anything you would change about the local school system as far as high school athletics are concerned?
A: It’s tough for the coaches and administrators. As a small school you don’t get to pick and choose players like other places. My big thing would be finding ways to get the kids we have, and they’re great kids, more involved. I’m not in the locker room so I’m just speculating but when I was coming up there seemed to be a lot more passion. I do not want the kids to lose that. So from an outsider’s perspective I don’t see that same passion with some of these players. And that’s not all on the players. It starts with the youth programs somewhat declining. They don’t have the same volume of willing coaches I had to keep a team together. A lot of times it is some willing parent on the sidelines. It’s great to see those individuals volunteer time out of their lives to support the kids and I commend them for that 100 percent. But it’s not the way you develop athletes from a young age. It’s one of those just go out and play mentality things instead of kids being taught proper techniques that will carry through in the later years.
Q: What has been the best part in your mind about growing up and living in Socorro?
A: The easy answer to that is the simplicity of it. There is never a big traffic jam, there is not a ton of crime going on at a high volume and you get to know some great people that you can grow up with. I’m a simple guy and for me the easy going nature of Socorro has been very beneficial in my life up to this point. Being happy gets lost in the mess of life. I’m happy here and so is this community in my estimation.
Ngo can be seen calling games in the midfield of Socorro soccer, running up and down the floor on the hardwood, keeping youth players motivated on weekends, making sure coaches do not get out of hand and calling games in neighboring Magdalena. He is also on the sidelines with a friendly handshake to fans supporting his hometown teams when not tasked with officiating.