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Ikki Soma & Debbie Williamson to speak at REF Conference 2020: At The Monitor


June 8, 2020

Sport Officials Surrendered (S.O.S.) is very pleased to announce pastor Ikki Soma and college basketball referee Debbie Williamson as the lead speakers for Referees Embracing Faith (REF) Conference 2020: At The Monitor.

Ikki Soma is the senior pastor at City of Refuge Church in Houston, TX. Soma was born in Tokyo, Japan before his family relocated to Los Angeles, CA when he was seven months old. He was a track athlete and graduated from Cal Poly before earning his Master of Theology in pastoral ministry from Dallas Seminary in 1999. In addition to serving as an NBA team chaplain, Soma also conducts chapel services for multiple collegiate athletic teams and is a contributor to Sports Spectrum which includes Sports Spectrum Magazine, The Increase, and the Sports Spectrum Podcast.

Ikki and his wife Tara have two daughters and have been married for 20 years.

Soma will deliver the opening sermon centered on the conference theme of going from “Trouble to Trust to Transformation” in your relationship with Jesus.

“I believe the timing of this year’s Referees Embracing Faith Conference is no accident,” Soma said. “Hasn’t 2020 been such a strange and challenging year? I believe REF Conference will help us grow from what we are going through in these times,” he said.

Dan DiFolco, co-founder of Sport Officials Surrendered: "when it comes to communicators God’s Word and illustrators of a message, there is no one more passionate and gifted than than Ikki Soma,” DiFolco said. “As a voice to athletes as a team chaplain, he brings a perspective that can help to unite all sides of the sporting community including officials,” he said.

Debbie Williamson is an accomplished and highly regarded official in women’s college

basketball. As an on-floor official, Williamson worked on the officiating staffs of seven different conferences and worked three regionals at the NCAA Division II level. From 2006-14, Williamson was the NCAA Women’s Basketball Secretary-Rules Editor, while also serving as NCAA Women’s Basketball National Coordinator of Officials from 2011-14. Currently, Williamson is the Coordinator of Women’s Basketball Officiating for nine NCAA Division I conferences, and sits on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Sport Officials.

Prior to officiating, Williamson was a two-sport athlete in basketball and softball at Louisiana Tech University and helped LTU to four Women’s Basketball Final Four appearances, winning the first NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship in 1982, and captaining the 1984 team. Williamson graduated with her Master of Science degree in health and physical education, and embarked on a collegiate coaching career in basketball, volleyball and softball. She has also enjoyed a successful career in education as an instructor for health and kinesiology at North Harris Montgomery County Community College, adjunct instructor of exercise science at Campbell University and finally a teaching assistant professor at NC State.

Williamson has authored numerous publications and research abstracts related to sports management, earned a Doctorate in Education degree from the University of Houston in 2000, and is a contributing author at Referee Magazine.

Williamson on speaking at REF Conference 2020: At The Monitor: "I am looking forward to another opportunity to share what God has done in and through my life in hopes that He can use it in someone else's life,” Williamson said. “I am humbled and grateful for the invitation to participate in Referees Embracing Faith Conference, and to address my teammates in the officiating community. Please pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I prepare to speak and as we walk through these days leading up to August 15,” she said.

DiFolco on Williamson: “Debbie Williamson is an amazing example of true change being enacted by surrendering authority and power to God. She is a great speaker and a phenomenal leader, and we are sincerely grateful to have her be a part of REF Conference 2020: At The Monitor," DiFolco said, adding,“each year when we look at the lineup of speakers that God has sent to speak at REF Conference, we use the word blessed, but truthfully there isn’t a word to properly describe our appreciation and amazement at the speakers that God has sent to REF Conference each year, and that continues with Ikki Soma and Debbie Williamson, who we know will serve officials at REF Conference wonderfully through their encouraging and inspiring messages and testimonies.”

REF Conference 2020: At The Monitor will be live-streamed on the S.O.S. YouTube and Facebook pages on Saturday, August 15. The online format is a one-year adjustment from the usual in-person format due to health considerations and the varying travel restrictions currently affecting the United States and Canada as a result and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viewers across the globe will be able to enjoy all that Referees Embracing Faith Conference has to offer in an action-packed video production in a timely manor from the comforts of their own home, free of charge and without registration or subscription.

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