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Article: The Stripes Are Different, The Game’s Is The Same

Posted by | February 11, 2011 .

With combined records of 4 wins and 30 losses, Friday’s Piqua – Greenville game won’t get coverage on Sports Center.  For that matter…I don’t expect film crews from channels 7, 2, and 22, either.

But the game will feature a story of local uniqueness…not for the fact of basketball, perhaps, but for the fact of the game being officiated by an all-female officiating crew.  Pam Stewart, of Springfield, Kristie Killion, from Xenia, and former Miami East standout Jessie Roeth will wear the stripes, a first in southwest district boys basketball.

“We’ve always had great diversity among our officials, but I think it’s pretty neat that the boys’ coaches have voted these three women among the top 100 officials in our district for the 2010-11 season,”  says Kevin Forror, supervisor of officials for the Greater Western Ohio Conference.

“As far as I know, the OHSAA has not been able to determine if this is a first in boys basketball.  It would be interesting to know.”

We checked it out, and OHSAA deputy commissioner in charge of officiating, Hank Zaborniak, did confirm Thursday that it is not the first time it’s happened.

“There have been all-women crews do boys’ games in central Ohio in the past,”  said Zaborniak, via email.  “And for all I know, it may have happened in other parts of the state, as well.”

Nonetheless, in my personal experience of covering area basketball, it is a first.  But for the fact of officiating, there’s really nothing unique about it.  These three gals are not only very good, but well-respected by those for whom they work.

“It really is an honor to have these three work the game.  Pam and Kristie already have experience at the state (tournament) level and Jessie is not far behind from achieving that goal, as well,”  said Forror this week.

“Pam is a real take-control personality, and you never have to worry about her taking command of a situation.

“Kristie has worked very hard to get to her current level of proficiency…and works continually to become a better official.

“And Jessie’s the new kid on the block.  She’s a real “blue chip” when it comes to officiating becuase she understands the game not only as an official, she has that rare experience of having been a very good player, as well.”

In basketball jargon, the officials are known as “zebras” for the fact of the stripes.  But trust it, while the “stripes” in the case of Friday’s game may be different, the game won’t change at all.  The highest compliment possible in officiating is that of anonymity.

“Absolutely,”  says Stewart, a veteran of 19 years on the court.  “You have to appreciate that Kevin (Forror) has stuck his neck out in this manner…to have three women work a boys’ game.  As far as officiating goes, basketball is still pretty much a man’s game.

“It’s nice to have the respect of being selected in the top 100.  But we’re not the game.  We’re just there towork the game.  Believe me, none of us will be thinking about it (the uniqueness) come Friday night.”