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Lundberg refs his way to U.S. Bank

Isaiah Lundberg, US Bank Stadium, all star, football
NRHEG alumni Isaiah Lundberg stands on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium ahead of officiating the 2023 Minnesota High School Football All-Star game last week. Lundberg began his officiating games six years ago and said he could have never imagined the job taking him to a venue as impressive as U.S. Bank Stadium. Submitted photo
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

When NRHEG alumni Isaiah Lundberg began refereeing high school football games six years ago, he had no idea where the job would take him.

Last weekend, the 2002 Panthers graduate donned his stripes at the Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as a member of a crew of officials for the 2023 Minnesota High School Football All-Star game.

“It’s a little bit different in a stadium like that. I was like, ‘Holy cow.’ It’s a lot bigger when you’re down there than looking at the field from the stands. It’s extremely impressive,” said Lundberg.

Lundberg’s career as a referee began when he was invited to help officiate football games for Blooming Prairie’s lower-level teams after a spot opened up on the crew.

As he progressed in his career as an official, Lundberg began taking on varsity assignments and now officiates everywhere from Steele County to the Twin Cities.

What began as an interest and a fun part-time gig became much more for Lundberg.

The major football fan said he loves officiating not only to stay close to the game, but also for the camaraderie that comes from being a part of a crew.

“Me and my team always try to go out for pizza or dinner after games. Refereeing has brought me so many friends. It’s a lot of fun,” said Lundberg.

Lundberg’s 2023 season included officiating regular season games and even Owatonna’s section championship game against Northfield.

“It was pretty cool to be out there for a game like that. I mean, Class AAAAA football is no joke, it’s pretty big. This season was by far the most games I’ve officiated in my career,” said Lundberg.

Adding to his career season was a trip to U.S. Bank after receiving a call from a member of his referee association asking him to step in to officiate the all-star game.

“I never could have guessed that I would be going to U.S. Bank when I first started. It’s kind of crazy to think I’ve been able to be on that field. I’ve never even been inside the stadium until the day of the game,” said Lundberg.

Adding to the experience was a first-hand glimpse at what some of his favorite players get to see before games.

“I’m actually a Bears fan, but the team was there last week for the Monday Night Football game, so I got to see the visitors’ locker room where they were during the game. There was a fancy program left behind, so I took it as a small souvenir to remember the experience,” said Lundberg with a laugh.

According to Lundberg, the experience was just one reason why he loves being a referee and why he advises football fans who love the game to potentially try their hand at becoming an official.

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