Desoto County Sports

Karen Swanner named NISL Director of Officials

Credit: National Indoor Soccer League news release

The National Indoor Soccer League (NISL) announced the addition of Karen Swanner as its first Director of Officials.

A veteran soccer official, Swanner has previously officiated professional indoor soccer in the Eastern Indoor Soccer League (EISL), Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) and MASL2 and for the International Dawn to Dusk events beginning in 1994. She served as the Director of Officials for the PASL and has worked several PASL Finals and was a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Referee for 18 years, officiating 17 Final Fours at all levels. Additionally, she has worked several professional matches and international friendlies for US soccer, including serving as an assistant referee for USA versus France, United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues (USISL), Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

NISL Commissioner Gary Tufford stated, “Karen brings a high level of expertise and knowledge to the league. She is an integral part of our plan to improve and escalate the quality of NISL soccer on all fronts. We welcome her and look forward to the 2024 season”.

Swanner has extensive experience in the professional indoor soccer world from the team level as well. She played an integral role in the development and management of the former Buffalo Blizzard of the NPSL, working as the franchise’s General Manager with an ownership group including franchise partners: Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bisons and Rich Products. Together with professional indoor legend Jamie Swanner, she owned the St. Louis Illusion professional indoor team of the PASL for 3 years. The pair also worked together to develop community-based programming through CORE Soccer Training.

Swanner is also a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) licensed soccer agent, instructor, assessor, and mental performance coach, working with both collegiate teams, individuals, and officials from all sports through her company, The Official’s Mind. A writer for Referee Magazine, she is currently working with the publication and the National Association of Sports Officials developing mental performance training materials for officials from all sports.

Swanner holds master’s degrees in journalism, marketing, and kinesiology, specializing in sports psychology. She also owns a spa in Edwardsville, Illinois and is the mother of professional indoor player Kyle Swanner of the St. Louis Ambush.

When asked about her appointment, Swanner said, “I am looking forward to this opportunity to be part of the development and expansion of the NISL. I believe my diverse and extensive background in both the officiating and management of professional indoor soccer, as well as my passion for the game, can bring a creative, consistent, enthusiastic and hands on approach to the officiating aspect of the league. This will help the officials grow and develop as the NISL continues to expand. My goal in serving as the Director of Officials includes improving and maintaining consistency in performance, professionalism, and superior game management. I intend to accomplish this with extensive training and a solid infrastructure, including the mental performance aspect of the game.”

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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