Mother, son referee duo takes the court together
FAIRFAX, Vt. (WCAX) - For some people, sports are a family affair. That’s true for mother Wendy Baker and son Dylan Hovey, both of whom will co-officiate a basketball game between BFA Fairfax and Enosburgh together for the first time.
Basketball runs in the duo’s blood.
“We did it as a family. So we had youth tournaments that we attended, which are weekend-long events and I watched the officials and I think I could do that,” Wendy Baker said.
Baker began officiating basketball 15 years ago as a way to continue her love of basketball and connect with her sons while they were at the same tournaments. She officiates around four to seven times a week, both in Vermont and New York. She said both states have supported her as a female and a mother to learn the game and be flexible when doing so.
“When you’re a parent and you’re taking on something like this, you’re always worried about taking time away from your family. And essentially what this is evidence of is that you’re actually investing in your family in doing that if you are from a basketball family,” said Baker.
“Love the energy that a game is provided and loved that the family got to go with me,” Dylan Hovey said.
The youth tournaments might be over for Baker’s son, Dylan Hovey, but high school games are not.
“It’s the closest thing you can get back to those moments that you remembered as a kid that that really made you happy. That’s why we came out here. It’s why we did it,” said Hovey.
He followed in his mom’s footsteps and became a basketball official in 2019.
“A year ago I got my first varsity game here in BFA. Obviously, I texted my mom, let her know and she cleared her schedule. She’s like, ‘I’ll be there,’ So my mom gets to watch that game,” said Hovey.
The two learned from each other in different ways over the years.
“I’ve watched him play as a young kid and he watched me struggle to figure out how to officiate and so we’ve really been together through this journey from the beginning,” said Baker.
The Vermont Principals’ Association said continuing athletic legacy is a testament to the close-knit state and sports community.
“If you’re in a basketball gym or ice rink or whatever it is. So whatever your family tradition is, can be really something you can pass down for generations,” said Lauren Thomas with the VPA.
Especially as there’s a shortage of officials in the state. The VPA says they are short hundreds of refs, with some varsity games only having one when they should have two. Because of the shortage, some officials said they sometimes officiate seven days a week. The VPA says they’re looking to revamp their system to make becoming an official, a little easier.
“Having an officials website, making sure that the process is clearly outlined. There’s financial barriers for uniforms, so looking into maybe a voucher or grant opportunity so that the folks that want to become officials don’t have to absorb such a cost to get started. You know, it’s basically volunteer, in some capacities are not being paid a lot of time so we don’t want anyone to go bad financially in a direction in their own personal life. So looking at some of those opportunities,” said Thomas.
The mother-son duo is set to hit the court for the first time together Thursday to officiate at varsity basketball pitting BFA Fairfax against Enosburgh.
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