Palo Alto mom hopes to become NFL referee


Terri Valenti is a mother of five boys and has a master's degree in engineering from Stanford University, but it is her role as a football referee that could make history.

"I'd love to make it to the NFL; if I could get to the top of my profession that would be just awesome," Valenti said.

Valenti is already making strides in that direction. She was head linesman during an October game at AT&T Park for the United Football League. The UFLl gives her rave reviews.

"I think I'm the only football widower in the country right, almost every week during the fall she's at a football game," Valenti's husband Doug said.

Valenti started officiating Pop Warner games in 1999, but she knew if she wanted to succeed at a higher level, she had to train like a pro athlete. She went to officiating training camps, learned the rules, watched film and has worked her way onto bigger fields making tougher calls.

"You have to learn the mind game that's associated with it too and what the situation calls for and might likely do on the field so you're ready for it," Valenti said.

Valenti is one of only 39 officials with the UFL and today got some advice from 49ers head coach Mike Singletary.

"She needs to be tough, I will say that she needs to be tough and really know the rules and understand what the rules are and have the courage to stand by those rules," Singletary said.

Valenti says when she is ready to take her game to the next level; she hopes to convince players and fans alike that being a good referee is not about gender.

"You can't just take any male and put them out there and take any female, you have to have someone with the desire to learn the game, take it seriously and preserve the honor of the game," she said.

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