Former Gering and Huskers basketball players to host women’s basketball umpire clinic | Sports

By MARK REIN Gering Courier

Former Gering and University of Nebraska women’s basketball player Brooke Schwartz and Alliance and Nebraska basketball player Amy Stephens will host a Future of Female Officials Referee Clinic hosted by the Redhead Ref organization June 18 at Scottsbluff High School.

Schwartz, who started the Redhead Ref organization, played for Nebraska from 1996-2000 and is now a women’s basketball official around Denver and will host the camps for any woman interested in starting to referee or learning more about the arbitration mechanisms. Officials Camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Scottsbluff High.

Clinic attendees, for $45, will receive a t-shirt, FOX40 whistle and basketball rulebook. Participants will learn basic knowledge of the game and rules, 2-person mechanics, game management, live game experience and next steps to earn money.

“The way Redhead Ref was born is what I went through last season with a massive shortage of women in officiating,” Schwartz said. “Every time I walked into a game assignment, the DA didn’t have another room for a female official. It was so foreign to them to see a female civil servant walk through the door. The coaches would come up to me just before the game and say ‘we never had a female official, thank you for being there.’ And I’ve seen too many male officials calling girl games who shouldn’t be officiating at all. Something had to change. I pitched my idea to Tory (his brother Tory Schwartz), my fellow officials, and my fellow coaches in the sport. Everyone was on board. »

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After college, Schwartz played professionally and became a coach as an assistant at Garden City Community College and then head coach at Pratt Community College. She said she has umpired recreational leagues from grade three through lower middle school and all levels in between. She has served where she has lived in Chicago, Milwaukee, Omaha and Denver.

Schwartz knows basketball. At Gering, Schwartz was a 3-sport athlete. In basketball, she averaged 26.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 8.2 steals as a senior and was named to the Super State All-State Team. At Nebraska, she scored 1,243 points and averaged 10 points per game. She is ranked sixth on the Husker charts with 223 career interceptions.

Schwartz actually started officiating in high school, officiating at the YMCA in high school because she needed a job.

Once she finished her playing career, her brother Tory got her to start refereeing.

“I actually blew my knee out in a semi-pro league and immediately knew my playing days were over. So, I got into coaching,” she said. Once I left practice, it was only natural to get into officiating more seriously, which allowed me to always be close to the game I loved. hadn’t had Tory, I wouldn’t have known how or where to start in high school.

Fellow official Amy Stephens is also no stranger to the sport. Stephens has been refereeing for a year, both volleyball and basketball and she started in June 2021 because a friend threw her after she retired from coaching.

Stephens, who was a successful head and assistant coach at Division I and Division II levels after her professional days in Germany ended, said she loves refereeing.

“I love officiating because it’s a way to give back to women’s sports,” Stephens said. “I competed as a tri-sport athlete (at Alliance) and as a college basketball player, so it was a very natural transition for me. I love watching young girls compete and having fun playing a sport. I also really enjoy the socialization that comes from meeting so many amazing people who are officials. I would tell young officials to hang in there, we need female representation in all sports and it’s a great way to meet amazing people.

At Alliance, Stephens averaged 21.9 points per game and had the 10th-highest point total in school history. She was also named to the Nebraska High School All-Century Team when it was announced in 2000. She played volleyball, basketball, and competed in track and field for the Bulldogs. She was named to the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame Foundation in 1999.

At Nebraska, Stephens was a prolific scorer, finishing with 1,976 career points. She also ranks sixth all-time in assists with 444 assists and 280 steals and started 113 games for the Huskers. She had a game-high 40 points in an 85-76 win over Oklahoma in 1989. She was also part of the Husker first team that entered the NCAA Tournament in 1988.

After that, she played professionally and then became a noted coach making assistant coaching stops at Nebraska (1990-91, 2002-03 and 2014-16), Iowa State (1992-94), St. Louis (2012 -13), Memphis (2013-14), and was the head coach of Nebraska-Kearney (1994-2002), Drake (2003-2012), Memphis 2018-2021).

Stephens said she enjoys refereeing and hopes to pass on what she knows to the younger generation.

“I’m only in my freshman year, but I was thrilled to officiate boys and girls varsity games, which led to a couple of district playoff games,” Stephens said. “My goal is simple. Represent officials positively and professionally, work hard for coaches and make the best choices possible while officiating knowing that I will never be perfect. I also want to enjoy the people I work with.

During her time officiating, Stephens began to see more and more women taking the whistle. That’s why she’s eager to help Schwartz organize the referee camp on June 18.

“There has been more visibility at the professional and collegiate levels for female referees as well as an intentional process to recruit and retain female referees. At the high school level, we still have a ways to go, but it’s getting better,” Stephens said. “I wanted to help support Brooke’s vision for women officials and their representation. I also want to be a positive and encouraging person for as many women as possible. »

For Schwartz, officiating is something you can decide how far you want to go.

“That’s the great thing about officiating,” Schwartz said, “once you get started, you can decide your own path and he can go with you anywhere. Just start.

She said she and her brother were always talking about refereeing.

“Throughout the season, Tory and I text and talk weekly about game situations,” Schwartz said. “In fact, I would call and share my experiences as a female official with him and he would share his experiences in regards to the need for more female officials. Tory is a giver for many begging schools and he recognizes the need more and better trained officials, so he invited us to run in a clinic.

“That’s why we (the Redhead Ref organization) are here; to provide a comfortable environment to empower women and girls, a place to start, learn and grow,” Schwartz said. “We give other women the means to access arbitration, which is FOFO’s objective. For years I have claimed to be a role model for young girls and women, so that they can “see that it is”. But now it’s about providing a space where others can learn.

Camp is only $45 and payable at the door. To register for camp, visit the camp website at

“Whether your goal is to get a few weekend youth games at the Y, get some college games, a full season high school schedule, or make it to the college level, just start,” Schwartz said.

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