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Pitt grad Kathryn Nesbitt assigned as Assistant Referee for Women’s World Cup Final

Photo courtesy / Women's World Cup

And we have yet another Pitt connection to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Actually, this Pitt connection is becoming a regular face in big time international matches, as Kathryn Nesbitt, a Pitt graduate, has been assigned as a referee for the second consecutive World Cup Final, as she will be an assistant referee (AR), for Sunday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Final between England and Spain.

In late 2022, Nesbitt became the first American woman to official the FIFA World Cup Final and in the FIFA World Cup, as she was an alternate for the classic ‘best ever’ men’s final between Argentina and France.

In 2023, Nesbitt was honored by the University of Pittsburgh with an honorary degree and was the commencement speaker this April.

“I started as a kid as a summer job, and that kept me involved in soccer and eventually kept me involved in sports,” Nesbitt told last year.

“It can be competitive in its own sense as well, so to have those opportunities to strive to be the best at something in kind of an athletic form was great for me, so that’s really what pushed me to keep moving forward with it.”

Nesbitt’s rise as an official to the international level has come in recent years.

Initially, she proceeded over multiple RIverhounds and high level U.S. pro matches.

In 2020, Nesbitt became the first woman to referee a championship match in professional men’s sports in North America, taking the field for the MLS Cup between the Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders. That year, she was also named the MLS Assistant Referee of the Year.

But refereeing isn’t the only field where she’s excelled.

“I was a professor of chemistry up until two weeks before the Women’s World Cup in 2019,” she said.

“I spent 10 years doing my own research and starting my own lab at [Towson] University. My background in research is on figuring out better ways to analyze brain chemicals, and our lab focused on developing, improving and optimizing the techniques for sampling brain chemicals and then analyzing them.”

For most of her adult life, Nesbitt juggled her passions of soccer and chemistry, but in 2019, she jumped into officiating full-time.

Her first stop: the Women’s World Cup in France.

For Pitt graduates embarking on firsts, whether the first in their family to complete college or those forging new paths in their discipline, Nesbitt said during her commencement speech at Pitt, that the key is to have confidence in what you know.

“Many times in my career, I realized that I shouldn’t try to be exactly like the male referee that’s gone before me, or I can’t do it exactly how somebody else has done it.” she said ahead of the commencement speech at Pitt.

“I have to do it my way. That’s what’s going to make me perform the best. That’s what’s going to make me happy.”


John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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