A True Pittsburgh Story

Mike McMullen’s story is a true Pittsburgh story: equal part grit and guts, defined by hard work and personal sacrifice, driven by pride, and fueled by love of family.  

The Early Years

Mike was born in the blue collar area of the Alle-Kiski-Valley of Allegheny County in Natrona Heights in 1970. He grew up in West Deer Township and graduated from Deer Lakes High   School in 1988.  His parents raised 2 sons:Michael and Shawn in a loving blue collar family. Cathy and Jim McMullen were high school sweet hearts from West Deer Township. Jim was a stationery electrictrical engineer at the former Westin William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. He belonged to the local union. His mom was a stay at mom and worked part time as a beautician. He was taught at an early age the value of hard work. The family came from very modest means. His great, great grand parents were Irish immigrants that came over from Belfast, North Ireland. Irish roots run deep and wide in the McMullen family. Mike’s 1st job came at the age of 11 where he got up at 530am every morning to take care of horses in West Deer Township on a local farm. He was a busboy, cook, waiter, photographer and video photographer while he was in high school at Deer Lakes. He excelled in high school soccer and track where he was a letterman at Deer Lakes. Tragedy struck the McMullen family where he lost his dad at 38 years old of a heart attack. His mom had to raise to teenagers Shawn and Michael by herself. This taught the family that love of family is paramount through tough times. His brother Shawn lives in the North Hills and is a Iron worker. His mom lives in the North Hills and she works at UPMC Passavant in the billing department.  

The College Years & the Start in Local Politics

Mike was the 1st family member to ever attend college. He put himself through college. He entered the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville his freshman year in the fall of 1988. He is a true Pitt graduate; he transferred from UPT to Pitt-Johnstown after his freshman year and was there until his senior year. He finished his last semester at the Oakland campus where he graduated with a degree in political science and double minor in history and education in 1992. Mike was very active in college while at UPJ he was a Resident Assistant and was the women’s basketball manager. He worked his way through college refereeing high school and college soccer matches all 4 ½ years.   He voted for Congressman Tom Ridge back in the fall of 1988 and he was hooked on GOP politics ever since. He was very active with the Young Republicans of Allegheny County back in the early 90’s and helped get Rick Santorum and Melissa Hart get elected as a young college student. In the summer of 1991 he crossed the isle and did an internship for a conservative Democrat from Beaver County, the former Congressman Joe Kolter. He handled constuent case work and services for the Congressman. Mike got the opportunity of a lifetime when he interned for GOP National Committeewoman Elise Hillman in 1992 during the Bush/Qualye campaign. This made him passionate about public service and serving the people. Mike has severed on the Hampton Republican Committee and Republican State Committee in prior years. He has attended 4 Republican National Conventions in 1996, 2008, 2012 and 2016.  

Making the Tough Calls, A Referee in the Making

Mike has been a soccer player ever since his early childhood years on the fields of Deer Lakes and SWPA. But a career ending injury his senior year sidelined him from ever playing at the next level. He would have played in college but a broken leg cost him a college scholarship. But, as one door closes another one opens. Mike took up refereeing at 1st just to make some extra paying the bills while in college. But, he then realized that he would become one of the top soccer referees in the Commonwealth  of PA and the United States. He started refereeing high school in the fall of 1989. He moved up the ranks in SWPA and was the youngest soccer referee ever to referee a WPIAL final at the age of 21. He started with the United States Soccer Federation in 1994 and rose through the ranks and become a National Referee in 2001. He refereed professional, international and youth soccer around the country. He went emeritus after a 7 year career at that level. His still referees college soccer through the country in the fall. He is a current National NISOA Referee since 1991. He is a National NISOA Assessor and National NISOA Referee Emeritis of 18 years. He currently works/has worked in many Division 1 Conferences over the years: ACC, AAU, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Atlantic-10, Conference-USA, Northeast Conference, Horizon League and the Mid-American. In addition, he referees all over Ohio, West Virginia and the Commonwealth of PA for local Division 2 and 3 institutions. Mike is use to making tough calls and in a moments notice. In addition, Mike refereed professional indoor soccer when the old CISL indoor soccer league was in Pittsburgh in 1994 and 1995. He can be found refereeing indoor soccer throughout Western PA as well in the winter months at various indoor arenas in SWPA. He also coaches in his spare time as well.


Mike is in sales and self-employed as a consultant. He makes his home in the North Hills of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County.


Collaborative acknowledgement and appreciation to the entire team
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