Rare crew of officials to ref Shiprock vs. FHS game

All-female Native American crew will call Shiprock vs. Farmington girls basketball game on Monday

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON — The Shiprock and Farmington girls basketball teams have met almost every year for decades, but when the Lady Scorps travel to Shiprock on Monday to challenge their longtime rival, the game will mark a much less common occurrence.


The game will mark one of the few times that an all-female Native American crew of officials will call the game.

“Basically, we’re able to put together an all-Native American crew of experienced officials together to do a game,” said Walter Dorman, the New Mexico Activities Association's Northwest Region officials’ assignor. “And it can show the girls in the game that this is something they can do after playing in high school.”

The three officials for Monday’s game will be Jessica Dooley, Della Bates and Jacque Begay.

Bates and Begay are part of Farmington’s branch of officials, while Dooley comes from Gallup’s branch.

Having an all-female crew is rare, and an all-female Native American crew is even more so. But Begay and Bates were on such a crew several years ago, officiating a game with Delphina Shunkamolah at Piedra Vista in the early 2000s.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Begay said of calling the game Monday night. "We're still going to get booed."

Begay, who lives in Kirtland and won state titles with the Lady Broncos in 1980 and 1981, has been an official, off and on, for about 30 years.

“When I’m not coaching, I’m refereeing, because I love the game so much,” said Begay, who has served as an assistant coach at Kirtland Central in past years. “It’s just something that I’ve always loved and enjoy doing.”

Dorman believes having an all-female Native American crew could serve as an example for the girls playing in Monday’s game that their careers in basketball don't have to end when they stop playing. He said he also sees the officials as role models for this generation of players to look up to.

Begay said if more Native American girls who have played basketball decided to officiate, it would lead to stronger crews and improve the game as a whole.

“I think the girls who might want to try officiating, especially Native American girls who have played basketball, I think they’d be a good addition to the (officials’) association anywhere they go. I think if you’ve played basketball growing up, you have a better understanding and feel for the game,” Begay said. “I think if we had more Native American officials with thick skin to overcome the crowds, it’s be great. It’d be great for them to come out and participate in officiating.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.