The Metropolitan Approved Girls Basketball Officials, an organization dedicated to educating referees, honored the accomplishments of some of their own Nov. 4 at Bourbon Street in Bayside at its third annual gala.
The honorees included those who had overcome adversity to continue their passion for officiating games as well as those who had simply put in years of dedicated service to women’s basketball, such as Maryann Jecewiz, Dameon Harrison, Cornell Hampton, Robert Moccia and Laura Isabelle.
Jecewiz received the Fran Mitilieri Medalion for Excellence in Women’s Basketball. She played for Christ the King High School in Middle Village before going on to compete on the women’s hoops team for Queens College, for which she was inducted into the NYC Hall of Fame. She moved on to coach in the Bronx and officiated at the NCAA Division I level.
“As a player, coach and official, I guess I’ve done it all,” Jecewiz said.
Harrison was an honoree for a successful first year as a referee and is a recipient of the Battlefields to Ballfields Scholarship from Fox Sports, which helps returning soldiers integrate back into their community through sports officiating. He graduated Thomas Edison High School in Jamaica and started his service in the U.S. Navy in 1997. He learned to officiate through MAGBO before receiving the scholarship.
Cornell Hampton was elected into the MAGBO Hall of Fame as founder of Sports United Benevolent Officials Association, which has been educating officials for more than three decades. Hampton has been officiating for just as long for NCAA Division III games.
“I have an eye and I see things in people, I just want to bring out the best in them to make them good officials, especially in girls and women’s basketball,” Hampton said. “Every time we get new officials, I tell them ‘don’t take this game for granted.’”
SUBOA itself was also entered into the MAGBO Hall of Fame.
A veteran referee of over 25 years, Moccia was given the MAGBO Game Changer Award. He is also a retired FDNY captain who served on 9/11 and in the aftermath of the attack. He also officiates for baseball games.
“The credo we live by as referees is ‘trust your partner,’” Moccia said of his relationship with fellow officiate, Cornell Hampton, by explaining how MAGBO members often back each other on and off the court when it comes to disgruntled players and their parents.
Isabelle was given the Courage in the Face of Adversity Award for her battle against brain cancer. She began her career as a ref following in her father’s footsteps and was even able to officiate with him as her partner. She has officiated for NCAA Division III tournaments.
“[The doctors] walked in and told me there was a mass in my brain. Usually the next sentence is ‘Get your affairs in order.’ But for me, I was lucky and my family was lucky,” Isabelle said. “A little less than six months later [after a surgery to remove the tumor] I got back on the court... I think the reason I wanted to come back so bad was that I just love to do it... I wasn’t ready for it to be over.”
MAGBO is in its fourth year in existence and partners with other organizations like it to advance the careers of referees throughout the state.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall
©2017 Community News Group
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