Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 90 - Bengay and the Matriarch

Less than .05% of officials are female.  So my theory is that since there are only a handful of us that we should help each other.  Mentor each other.  I always did the right thing and mentored not only females but males I saw something in and all of them made it to the college rank and all the females made it to Division 1.  This should tell you something then right, if I knew how to train others on how to get there, I knew what I was doing in the first place?  I always waited for someone to see the talent in me and mentor myself. I waited and waited.  I was told I was too old, too fat, wrong color, wrong sexual-orientation, and once was accused of "name dropping."  If you are telling a true story, how is it that you are name dropping?  Is it that people didn't believe I really knew every single official that I saw on TV and can name them?  Truth is, I did know everyone at the time I started officiating.  I had met them at camp. I talked about times I had engaged in conversation with them about lessons they had taught me.

I thought that was a good thing.  I was simply trying to pass on a lesson that had been taught to me and giving credit to the great mind who passed it to me.  I feel that sometimes we are so insecure with ourselves that we just "look" for something in another person to "pick" at so that we can make ourselves feel better.  I have had two other female officials that fit into this category.  One was the "matriarch" of the association and once when I was officiating a high school game with her, I tried to go to her and give her information about a rule that she was 'kicking.'  Kicking is what we call when we get it wrong, we kicked it.  She had tossed the ball as the Referee and the ball went out of bounds on white.  Red was to get the ball out of bounds and maintain the arrow.  The rule was since the white player had committed a violation, they lost the possession arrow too.  So Red got the ball and the arrow.  She was handing the Red player the ball and had instructed the table to put the arrow toward white for the next possession arrow.  I went to her and told her that wasn't the rule and that we needed to keep the arrow on red.  She looked at me and said, "I don't care what the rule is we are not doing that today."  I was dismayed and tried to do the right thing and said, "But Margaret it's not the rule, we can't do that."  She said to me like a mother scolding a two year old, "Go to your position, we are not doing that today."

I totally lost respect for her then.  She was picking and choosing which rules to implement.  Is it fair, is it just?  No and we just lost all creditability as a  crew.  Or maybe she was trying to show the coaches who knew her for sixteen years or more that I was just a young official who didn't know as much as she did.  Truth is, I knew more. The younger officials actually read the rulebooks and it is the older officials that just "know" the old rules and only read the new rules every year.  (They have since changed that rule because "nobody was implementing it the right way" which is another story all together.)

Another time, the "matriarch" welcomed another older female official back into the association and bragged about her.  The returning female official and I worked a game in which she was standing in Trail position near a coach while I administered a base line throw-in from Lead under the bucket to the opposing team.  The Throw-in player bounced the ball out of bounds before releasing it for a pass.  The coach asked my partner if that was a violation.  At half-time she told me this story and told me what she had told the coach, "Coach, yes it is a violation.  I'll talk to her about it at half-time."  I was not happy that she had sold me out to a coach and that she was WRONG!  I looked it up in the casebook, read her the rule and the interpretation of the rule.  This was an older official trying to come back into the game without reading the rules that had changed while she was gone.  I looked her in the eye and said, "Please, don't EVER tell a coach your partner is doing something wrong even if you KNOW they are doing something wrong. You lose creditability as a  crew.  ESPECIALLY when you don't know the rule yourself nor what you're talking about."  She apologized and did the right thing after we left the locker room at half-time and told the coach the truth.  When I got home I e-mailed him the rule as I didn't want to lose any credibility I had established with him already.

This same "matriarch" was the first female in the state of Florida to officiate a boys FHSAA State Final game.  After the game I called her to congratulate her.  She said it was no big deal.  I had heard that she was bad mouthing me but I did the right thing because truth was she was a trailblazer for females in the state of Florida's high school basketball.  She did say that she didn't care how many tubes of Bengay she had to put on, that she would make it through that game.  She was nearly sixty years old. (Think about that, and how the state chooses officials for state finals.....)

During meetings, she was in charge of teaching the newer officials rules. Many times during a meeting she would tell a rule to the officials and it would be WRONG.  I would find it in the book and raise my hand.  I'd stand up and repeat the rule and ask if she was sure that what she had just said was correct.  Not disrespectfully just matter-of-fact.  I didn't want these new officials to go out and "do" what they heard without knowing it was "wrong."  


I have had many officials tell me that she was my worst enemy.  Any post-game assignment that I was nominated for, she made sure I wouldn't get it as she was on the Board of Directors, or the Recommendations Committee or the Evaluations committee or the Past President.....basically always in a position of power.  If I had made it into a new college conference of officiating, she bad-mouthed me for using the "wrong" mechanics in a high-school game.  As I broke glass ceilings in the Florida high-school female ranks, she knocked me down.  I kept my head up and kept on going. I was the first female to officiate the famous boys Christmas Tournament in Fort Myers. One in which she was never invited to officiate.

My first game at that tournament had Dwight Howard in it and his shoulders were big then! I had seen Dwight Howard many times on my courts at Suwanee, GA and Bob Gibbons in North Carolina.  I knew he was special before he got into high school. First play of this game, he came down and knocked down a player as he went to the hoop.  The defender wasn’t in “legal guarding position” so I let that play start, develop, and finish.  I wasn’t going to call a block on the first play of the game when Dwight had clearly shown his superiority of being able to finish the play and score two points. The defender had gotten beat by Dwight Howard on the first play of a televised high school game and justice had already been served on a plate of embarrassment.  He was good and I knew it from experiencing his level of play on a regular basis.  Dwight was what we called a hamburger.

We don’t want to waste a foul on our “hamburgers.”  The hamburgers are the five starters of the game.  They are the best and thus the starters, veteran officials make sure every foul we call on them is one that Stevie Wonder can see in the back row.  The second string players are called the “french fries.”  They usually commit a stupid foul as soon as they get on the court which is why they were riding the bench in the first place.

I officiated boys high school games all summer long during AAU and YBOA yet she convinced the High School Assignors that I was only suited to do girls basketball games during the winter High School Season.  I was glad to do the girls games, don't get me wrong, but not for the reasons I was assigned to them.

I relish in one fact and one fact alone.  I kept my head up and kept "keepin-on."  The Matriarch may have had Bengay.  But I have been able to say, "Been there" to many more events than the FHSAA boys basketball State Final.  I didn't need a boys State final to add to my resume, I had seen those boys alllllllll summer long.



Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down ~Bible

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