Referees Get a Lot of Help, Huskies Get a Lot of Support

By Dennis Walikainen | Published

Students "help" the referees during the game and lead cheers nonstop.
Students "help" the referees during the game and lead cheers nonstop.

The referees assigned to the NCAA Division II Midwest Women’s Basketball Regional held on the Michigan Technological University campus are getting plenty of help from the stands. A group of students dressed in referee shirts has been leading cheers and “working with” the referees all through the tournament and the GLIAC tournament that preceded it.

“We ref high school ball and intramurals, and we thought, ‘We’ve got to do something to support the women,’” explains Steve Short, one of the "refs" in the stands. “They’re such a special team.”

He found a like-minded teammate, fellow football player Anthony Santi (Short is the Huskies’ quarterback), and the number of refs has grown from there. They even stayed on campus during spring break to support the team, leading the fans with their cheers and antics.

“They deserve our support,” Short says. “It’s great entertainment.”

And so are the student refs, who line up where the real refs would before the game, give the proper signals for infractions and occasionally give the NCAA refs some “guidance” over controversial calls.

“We don’t harass them too bad,” Short says. “We don’t want to be a distraction, so we don’t heckle too much over calls.”

Santi agrees that they get along with the NCAA officials.

“We hung out with them Friday night,” he said. “The head of the officials was there, too, and he gets a kick out of us.”

Of course, some of the student refs wear glasses to suggest some eyesight problems and do their stretches just like the real refs. And the NCAA refs now expect to see them.

“They’ll say, ‘We’ll take it from here.’ when we are at center court,” Short reports. And during the game, the NCAA officials are silent, but “they’ll give us a wink,” Santi adds. “When people say, ‘Refs can’t hear the crowd.’ I know that’s not true!”

Short says their attire and antics are different from the usual chest painting, and they’d love to continue to “help” the officials in St. Joseph, Missouri, if the Huskies advance to the Elite Eight.

“It’ll be tough with our schedules,” he says, “but people are talking . . . “

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.