Mountlake Terrace students and referees Chandler Hyde, left, and Matthew Meadows, right, get ready before the start of a basketball game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mountlake Terrace students and referees Chandler Hyde, left, and Matthew Meadows, right, get ready before the start of a basketball game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mountlake Terrace seniors find ‘passion’ in basketball officiating

Chandler Hyde and Matthew Meadows started reffing games two years ago. Dwindling officials associations hope to add more like the youthful duo.

Chandler Hyde and Matthew Meadows started officiating youth basketball games for the Pacific Northwest Basketball Officials Association two years ago, and it’s a job the two have continued to gravitate towards as high school students.

Hyde and Meadows, both seniors and two-sport athletes at Mountlake Terrace High School, originally picked up the gig as a way to earn extra money during the season the two don’t participate in a sport of their own.

“It started out with middle school basketball in my first year,” Hyde said. “I just thought it was something interesting. It was a way I could make some extra money when I don’t have a winter sport.”

Then, it became a job both learned to enjoy.

“It wasn’t until my second year when I started picking up a lot of games and doing high school games that I really started getting into it,” Hyde said. “… It feels good to give back to the community, and it’s something I’ve found a lot of passion in. I believe it’s something that a lot more high schoolers should look at.”

Chandler Hyde runs down a court while refereeing a game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Chandler Hyde runs down a court while refereeing a game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The two were brought on board to officiate through Mountlake Terrace health and physical education teacher Todd Weber, a veteran referee in the PNBOA.

The PNBOA, which provides referees for boys and girls recreational, middle school, C-team, junior varsity and varsity games from Lynnwood to Auburn, has seen a significant referee shortage in recent years, much like similar organizations nationwide.

The PNBOA books about 16,000 games a year and has just over 200 active officials, as opposed to 350 pre-COVID.

Vice President and recruiting committee member Brian Riseland said that high school officials of all ages are advancing up the ladder at a more rapid rate due to the shortages.

Riseland, who also officiates games for the PNBOA, met Hyde and Matthews a little over a year ago when he was evaluating a game for the officials association at North Creek High School. It was the first time he’d ever seen two high schoolers working a high school game together.

“That’s not something that happened before,” Riseland said. “The good news is that if you call a good game and you’re dedicated to getting better, the opportunities are there for people to move ahead. … Our assigners are really well in tune with where officials at.”

PNBOA lead assigner John Lindsey, who has been assigning officials for over 40 years, thinks that recruitment of younger officials could be a key to spur an uptick in participation numbers.

According to the Washington Officials Association, the average age of a state registered officials is 54.

“We have to get younger and we have to find a way to attract some of these kids,” Lindsey said.

Chandler Hyde, left, and Matthew Meadows, right, talk during halftime at a basketball game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Chandler Hyde, left, and Matthew Meadows, right, talk during halftime at a basketball game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lindsey added that a shift from paying officials at the end of a season to a system that allows referees to get paid within 72 hours of a game — a change that happened to years ago — has been a big selling point for recruitment. Previously, officials had to wait until the end of the season to be paid for all of their work.

“We’re one of the few states in the country that does that,” Lindsey said. “Money talks, that’s kinda the bottom line, especially with high school kids.”

Per the PNBOA website, officials earn between $30-35 per game for rec leagues and between $40-64 for middle and high school games, depending on level and crew size.

Hyde and Meadows both played football for Terrace during the 2023 season, where Meadows was a quarterback and Hyde played defensive back and wide receiver. In the spring, Meadows pitches and plays outfield for the Hawks. Hyde is a short-distance runner and long jumper in track and field.

Matthew Meadows referees a game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Matthew Meadows referees a game Jan. 16 at Lynnwood High School in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Both said having a flexible officiating schedule that doesn’t intertwine with their sports has made for an ideal fit as high school students.

Matthews has found officiating as impactful part-time work and it’s given him a different perspective than an athlete’s point of view.

“Before I was a ref, I was always critical of referees and calls like most people are,” Matthews said. “It’s always kinda easy to use officials as a scapegoat for not winning. … Now I’m always more lenient towards umpires and officials in my sports, because I know what it’s like. It completely changed my outlook.”

Riseland hopes to recruit more officials like Hyde and Matthews. He thinks that a spike in young officials would be a way organizations can combat the overall decline in numbers in future years.

“I think Chandler and Matthew are the big example that we need,” Riseland said. “In any profession, people need to see people like (themselves) out there. When you only see a bunch of 50-year-old males out there running on the court, you definitely don’t always see yourself in that role. But, if we can get more folks of all ages and genders out there, more people will realize that there’s more people like them out there.”

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