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Think pink this week as hoops referees bring attention to cancer
Even with a modest increase in referees in the area, the Colorado Springs Basketball Officials Association can’t be everywhere on the same night.
That’s the challenge facing the nearly 200 black-and-white clad members, trusted to make the right call at the right time.
“We’re trying to balance the schedule a little bit,” executive member Gary Montel said. “It’s a matter of so many games on one particular evening.”
For example, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, a staggering 82 games are scheduled across the city and surrounding area. Mathematically, that’s too many games for a three-person crew to cover, so Montel is asking athletic directors for help.
“If you look at Feb. 7, a Thursday, there are only 36 games scheduled. If I can take those 82 games on Tuesday and reduce to 65, that would take Thursday to 53. That’s much more manageable.”
Area athletic directors are open to tweaking their schedules, as long as there’s time to prepare.
“We haven’t moved any this year, but we’re open to it,” Fountain-Fort Carson athletic director Kelley Eichman said. “We’re ready to work together to get it taken care of. There are a lot of games.”
Pink. It’s not just for October anymore.
Head to one of the 50-plus prep basketball games this week in the Pikes Peak region and see for yourself. Many of the 199 referees in the Colorado Springs Basketball Officials Association will don pink-and-black striped shirts, pink whistles, even pink shoelaces to signal the annual Officials vs. Cancer campaign.
Last year, Colorado officials raised $8,600, trailing only Massachusetts and Connecticut. This week, referees hope pink buckets at games will collect five figures.
“Everywhere we turn, cancer has affected someone in our lives,” executive board member Gary Montel said. “We’re challenging all of the referees to give one of their game checks for the cause. It’s a war we’re trying to fight.”
Montel knows, because he watched his wife lose a battle to lung cancer 11 years ago, along with both his parents and a daughter-in-law.
This year, cheerleaders at each venue will pass a pink bucket through the crowd in an effort to collect more donations than ever before. In past years, the bucket remained only at the entrance.
“There’s no pressure, but we want people to show their support in any way they can,” said Bob Lantzy, state president and area assignor. “We’re hoping to get to $10,000.”
Montel, in his 40th year as a referee, understands the importance of sports as it applies to daily life, especially in tough times.
“High school basketball is pretty valuable to a lot of people,” Montel said. “The court has been my sanctuary. This week, all of us are blowing our whistles for cancer."