COMMUNITY: World Cup referee helps patients battle COVID-19

2020 - Katja

The Quakes and Wells Fargo are humbled and inspired by the amazing work of our frontline communities and neighbors in this time of crisis. Each week, we’ll be featuring and highlighting the work of one fantastic neighborhood hero, showcasing the great work they are doing and the organizations our community can rally around.

Additionally, a donation will be made to an organization or community project on behalf of each week’s hero. This week we will be donating to Human Connexus Foundation.

Performing well under pressure is one of the many things Katja Koroleva has been trained to do. As a professional international soccer referee and an emergency physician’s assistant at Regional Medical Center, Katja is no stranger to making quick decisions in high pressure, critical moments. 

For this San Jose native, her work uniform fluctuates between a jersey and a lab coat. For the past six years she has suited up as an international referee as well as being suited up in a lab coat to attend to ER patients with non-life threatening cases.

She reached a notable time in her referee career last summer, by being given the opportunity to officiate a few Women’s World Cup games in France. This year, Katja has now reached a notable point in her medical career by fighting against COVID-19, a deadly virus with many unknowns. 

“Medicine makes a difference in people’s lives, but in the soccer world, I get to be a part of a professional environment with elite and world-class athletes,” says Katja. 

Although the soccer field and the medical field might not seem to have any overlap, Katja has been able to draw similarities between the two. Katja knows how easily her decisions can have a massive impact on others. 

“Both usually involve a fast-paced environment with frequent decision making skills relating to people,” she says. Katja has noticed some of the most important skills both jobs require include communication, leadership and a compassionate guidance of people. 

Her career as a professional referee has allowed her to still be involved in a sport she loves, while bringing fairness and transparency to a fast-paced, competitive environment. 

Similarly, her compassion for patients is seen in her lengthy 12-hour shifts at the hospital. Katja’s typical pre-COVID tasks included conducting X-rays, exams and lab tests. Now she has been challenged with confronting COVID-19 cases on a regular basis. 

For Katja, the Coronavirus has shown the impressive adaptability of nurses, doctors and medical professionals. Katja commends her fellow medical community locally and globally for coming together on behalf of a greater cause. She says that the medical community has been learning and growing, and has come a long way since discovering the virus only five months ago. 

“It’s been a learning opportunity, and everyone is learning from one another,” says Katja. “The medical field is always evolving and we’ve seen a lot of evolution at this time.”

Despite the unknowns in the sports world and the medical world, Katja encourages everyone to look for a silver lining. Katja says everyone has a big responsibility in helping to stop the spread of the virus. “Wearing masks is important for protecting the vulnerable population and it’s important for protecting life,” she says. 

While much of the global sports world remains uncertain, Katja encourages everyone to do their part now so life can return to how it was before. “If we unite together now, we can get life back to normal sooner.”