2011 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship: Check out NCAA.com coverage
By Kristen Leigh Porter
The following officials worked the April 3 NCAA Women’s Final Four semifinal pitting Stanford vs. Texas A&M:
Although she is one of the most recognizable and respected referees in the game, Mattingly is just as memorable for her Southern accent, boundless energy and quick wit. “I’m old as dirt, that’s all that means that people know my name,” she quips.
Her illustrious officiating career began with kids games on the weekends to make extra cash, sometimes five or six per day. Tall and thin, Mattingly jokes that she was only a mediocre athlete and has suffered more injuries working as a referee. Mattingly walked off the court after one college game thinking she broke a foot but worked another game before an MRI and bone scans showed five fractures that required her to sit through the next season.
She worked for an architecture firm before carrying a whistle full time.
Wearing the stripes is a role reversal for Jones, a former basketball student-athlete at Arizona State. She earned honors as a coach at her former high school and is quick to point out how much she once yelled at refs, leading the league in technical fouls her first year on the bench. While Jones doesn’t miss playing “or doing line drills,” she said her past provides an understanding of what it means to be “putting your heart and soul into the team” or “fighting in the trenches for kids.”
Jones was encouraged to try officiating by Big Sky coordinator of officials Marla Denham but showed up at her first referee camp with no whistle because she assumed it would be provided for her. (It wasn’t.) Jones has been an official since 1999 and also serves as captain of her local fire department.
Grinter owes her 16-year officiating career to needing a credit in health and physical education in college. She was told she showed potential and started working junior high games. During her fourth year wearing the stripes, Grinter worked her first Division I game for the Ohio Valley Conference. Now she has five years of international experience and, like the other Final Four refs, has worked numerous WNBA games.
“Nobody understands, even friends and family,” she says of her choice of an occupation. “But it’s the path God took me.”