On Monday night, the NBA made history as it marked the first time that two female referees officiated the same game. Jenna Schroeder and Natalie Sago were part of the two-woman officiating crew in a game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Orlando Magic.
In 1997, the league began utilising female referees but this is the first time in which there have been multiple female referees in a single game.
Schroeder and Sago were two-thirds of the crew assigned to the game. Sean Wright was picked to be crew chief, Sago the referee and Schroeder the umpire.
The duo have worked together in games earlier; they were part of three-woman crews in the G League.
“This is a big deal,” said Schroeder. “It’s like my feminist dreams come true, that like my personal values are colliding with my professional values and it’s awesome.”
Of the 76 officials used by the NBA so far this season, seven are women, already the most to work games during any season in league history. Simone Jelks, Ashley Moyer-Gleich, Dannica Mosher, Danielle Scott, Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, Schroeder and Sago are all working games this season. Scott and Mosher are non-staff. The other five are part of the full-time NBA officiating roster.
“Its amazing,” said Sago. “I’m just proud to be part of an organisation that promotes people to do the job based on our abilities, not on out gender, race, ethnicity, those types of things.”
Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego also noted the significance. “It’s a special night for our league and for women and I look at somebody like my daughter, who will be watching and it’s a big step,” he noted. “I love that I’m a part of a league that’s breaking barriers, and tonight I’m proud to be a part of that game.”