Breaking News
More () »

Veteran finds purpose in program that trains him to be football referee

Robby Grooms is a Navy veteran who found himself through the program Battlefields 2 Ballfields

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Battlefields 2 Ballfields is a program that trains veterans for jobs as sports officials in their local community. It is completely free for the veteran and participants can choose to train for a variety of sports.

Navy veteran, Robby Grooms, used to be stationed in Jacksonville and found a new life passion after signing up for Battlefields 2 Ballfields.

"Once you put on that uniform your life is more about just yourself," recalls Grooms about his time in the Navy.

For nearly a decade Robby Grooms proudly served his country in the United States Navy. Stationed for periods of time at both Mayport and NAS Jax, Grooms was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. He finished his service as an E-5 Petty Officer Second Class, but outside of the military he couldn't find that organization and comradery that he was accustomed to having in the Navy.

"I was missing that part of my life that was the foundation for 8 years once I got out of the military," said Grooms, "it was kind of my identity was having that structure."

Eventually he met Tom Hill, a field judge in the NFL. 

Hill introduced Grooms to a program called Battlefields 2 Ballfields, which was started by NFL on FOX Rules Analyst Mike Pereira.  

B2B is a free program for veterans and active duty military members that trains service members to be sports officials in their local community.

"Once I started officiating and being able to structure things again, my life started to come back together," said Grooms.

After 3 years in the program Grooms is refereeing college football games with the hope of turning football officiating into a full-time career. B2B tries to pair a veteran with a mentor; Grooms views Hill as that, and so much more.

"Not only do I get to ask coach football stuff anytime I like, but I get to see everything he puts into football," said Grooms, "after 22 years in the NFL the guy still works harder than any rookie I've seen coming into the league."

From an uncertain future after his military service, Grooms has a new-found passion that could become a career.

"I would not be down this path if it wasn't for B2B," said Grooms before officiating the Edward Waters University spring football game, "I owe a lot to B2B, even being here where I am today and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be working out here on this field and I owe it all to B2B and coach Hill."

If you are a veteran or know of a veteran who would be interested in this program, click here for information on how to signup.

RELATED: New sport for Wounded Warriors in Jacksonville

RELATED: NFL referee Maia Chaka makes history

Before You Leave, Check This Out