BY JEFFERY LEAF
Just in time for March Madness, our occasional series
about encore careers returns with a look at a woman
living her dream as a basketball referee for girls and
What do you do when your children, who you followed during their athletic careers through high school, graduate? If you’re like Barbara Noonan, you become a basketball referee.
Noonan, 57, has been officiating girls and boys middle and high school basketball for four years now. As she’d watch her own daughter and son enjoy the sport, she’d often fancy herself out on the court, making those fast, hard calls in the center of it all. So when she saw an ad one day for a basketball officiating class, she jumped at it. She took the course, passed the test, and started to work.
Noonan’s a member of the Gulf Coast Basketball Officials Association (GCBOA), which serves the counties of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Hardee. Of the 94 officials in the GCBOA, only four are female.
“I don’t feel like other officials treat me any differently,” she says.
Noonan retired from teaching at Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Mass., but still teaches accounting and management classes online. She works basketball as many
nights of the week as she wants from mid-November through February.
Noonan lives in Osprey in Sarasota County but works as needed in all four counties served by the GCBOA.
Officiating basketball offers Noonan the best seat in the house, some cash and plenty
“It is a gym membership without having to pay for it,” she says.
Engaging with high school players also helps with her college teaching by keeping
her up-to-date on the fads and language of her college students.
Most importantly, officiating has helped Noonan, a social person, find friends who share a mutual interest in the sport. It makes her happy, gets her out of the house, gives her a purpose in life, and keeps her sharp, she says, as she has to react quickly and decisively
to make the right calls.
Though there are times when the tempers of coaches and parents can flare, that doesn’t
worry Noonan. Her lifelong love of the sport, her passion for helping young people learn
and grow, and her desire to be the best she can be keep her motivated.