Marsha Wetzel First Deaf Female Referee NCAA Division I - The Beginning

Marsha Wetzel First Deaf Female Referee NCAA Division I - The Beginning
Although referees are not usually the favorite people on the basketball court, one referee is quickly estzblishing a reputation as a favorite. Ms. Wetzel graciously granted her time for an interview, for which I thank her. The love of basketball caught Marsha Wetzel early in life and continues today. One of her latest triumphs was becoming the first deaf female referee for the NCAA Division I. I asked Ms. Wetzel about her initial interest in basketball and about her inspiration in the beginning:

QUESTION: Did you grow up around basketball or play when you were a teenager?
ANSWER: Actually I have always been interested in basketball and other sports all my life. My athletic dad put up a basketball board in the driveway for me to play one on one and horse games with dad and my childhood neighbor friend. I attended two basketball camps when I was a teenager. The very first camp I went to was all boys. No girl basketball camps available at that time. My mom and I had to fight for my right to participate at a boys’ basketball camp. They let me in. Frustrating experience for me because the boys would not pass the ball to me during the games. The following year according to the passing of Title IX, the girls basketball camp was established. Gladly, I had the equal opportunity to attend and play with all girls.

QUESTION: Who was your “basketball idol” when you were a child and the most encouraging person to you in your endeavors to play ball?
ANSWER: I did not have much exposure to the sport of basketball on TV when I was young because I attended a boarding residential school all my life. However, my dad was my role model. We used to always play sports against each other such as kickball, soccer, basketball, and football. While watching sports on TV, my dad would spend time to explain the rules of different sports when I was home on weekends or during my summer vacations. My mom was also the greatest fan. She attended all my HS sports at a deaf residential school where I played soccer, basketball and softball for four years. I do have some favorite male and female basketball players today such as Sue Bird, Jennifer Azzi, Christain Laettner, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Curt Schilling and Johnny Damon.

Marsha Wetzel is the daughter of Donald Wetzel and Jean Mathews Wetzel. Donald Wetzel played basketball in college at Gallaudet and was a member of the U.S. basketball team in the 1953 Deaflympics. Marsha played three and a half years of basketball and 2 years of softball at Gallaudet and was a two-time gold medalist in Women’s Basketball at the 1985 and 1989 Deaflympics in Los Angeles and New Zealand. With such an obvious love of the game, I questioned Ms. Wetzel about her initial interest in becoming a referee:

QUESTION: When did you first develop an interest in officiating?ANSWER: Actually I first developed my interest in officiating after I won the Coach of the Year at the IAABO banquet in 1987. I was in disbelief to see a large pool of officials (mostly men) at the banquet. I didn’t see any women. I felt that female basketball players needed more female referees as role models.

QUESTION: How did you initially begin to pursue your interest and get started as a referee?
ANSWER: After being a head coach of the deaf Varsity girls’ basketball team for two years, I realized that coaching was not my bag. I decided to pursue a new interest in officiating the following year. I felt that basketball officiating would give me a new challenge and great opportunity to stay fit, be a part of the game on the court, make extra money, do some travels, meet new people and climb the ladder of officiating from the HS level to the Division I level and WNBA.

Follow the links for more!
Marsha Wetzel - On The Job
Marsha Wetzel - Her Point Of View
Marsha Wetzel - What's To Come

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