MOORE — Jeanett McAllister is up and down the basketball court as she officiates at basketball games for players from kindergarten through junior college. She does it as “a way to give back” to the sport that has been a part of her entire life.
Born in El Paso, Texas, she came to Oklahoma as a seventh-grader, already well schooled in the ins and outs of basketball. Her father, Stanley Daniels, was a high school coach and he encouraged her as she began playing ball as a point guard named MVP on the Northwest Classen High School team.
It was her dad, who is now retired, who urged her to get into officiating.
“I know you will like it. You will be good at it,” he told her. It is that kind of encouragement that she likes to pass on to the young players she works with now.
Although the games that she officiates include a wide range of ages, it is the youngsters that she most likes to work with.
“I love kids, and I want them to learn and to have fun,” she said. “The little kids are like sponges, learning, but it takes patience to guide them. As the kids get older, it gets more competitive and for some of them it isn’t fun anymore.”
McAllister referees at as many as 28 games a week, wearing the striped shirt nearly every evening and on Saturdays. The games are all over the metro area and as far away as Lawton, and she is a regular in the programs sponsored by Norman and Moore parks and recreation departments.
It’s a tough schedule for one who also has a full-time job as a customer support specialist at Tinker Field.
“But I enjoy it. And I am an independent contractor, so I can block off days if I need to take some time off,” McAllister said.
At 4-foot-11 inches tall, McAllister fits well with the youngest of ball players, but admits that with the high school players, she has to establish herself as being “in charge.” She explains “being a woman and being short, I have to show confidence and presence. I have to have control of the game.”
As an official, she sees that the players abide by the National Federation of High School’s rules, but she also takes time to see the players as individuals, offering encouragement where needed. Whether it is giving a pat on the back as encouragement for a teen whose mother was causing a scene in the stands, or slowing a game down so an autistic child can garner the confidence to dribble the ball down the court, she is enjoying the game, and enjoying seeing the players grow.
“I have been at it for several years and I am now seeing that some of the kids who I saw as beginners have grown into good players,” She said.
She is an officer in the Tinker Officials Association which offers classes for others who want to earn the officiating credentials awarded by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association (OSSAA).
“There are always others who want to get into officiating, and we need people to replace those who drop out for one reason or another,” McAllister said.
McAllister also is a student, nearing completion of a bachelors degree in aviation logistics.
“I am just six hours away from my degree,” she said, proud to have accomplished that while working and raising her son, Tonice, who is 19 and preparing to enter the Air Force.