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She earned her stripes calling the shots

Community Portrait
By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
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Sylvia Buschmann feels real comfortable in a gym, and she spends a lot of time wearing the black and white striped shirts that dominate her wardrobe. Buschmann is a sports official with 20 years of experience. It’s a male-dominated field but she has made a place for herself. Buschmann answers to ref, ump, or “hey, blue,” working mostly with area recreation leagues and junior high schools officiating youth basketball and volleyball games. Buschmann has always been athletic, enjoyed sports and her children were involved in sports. She started as the facilities coordinator for the Bear River Recreation District and officiating was part of the job. “It just sort of took off from there,” Buschmann said. “I answered a newspaper ad placed by Jerry Hash, a longtime iconic area official, who ran the Foothill Officials Association, applied for a position and started working games after receiving training,” she said. Buschmann now works through Sierra Sports Service, coordinating with area recreation leagues to officiate basketball, volleyball and some adult softball games. She also works at junior high schools and some high schools, officiating basketball and volleyball games. “I love sports and being interactive with the players. Each sport is different and all of us officials have our favorite sport we like to do,” Buschmann said. Buschmann prefers basketball and ages under high school because it’s more teaching and instruction of the game than calling fouls, especially with the younger kids. And she loves working in the community, working in sports, and she likes the physical activity of her job. She travels to the Loomis, Auburn and Pleasant Ridge school districts, the Auburn and Lincoln recreation districts, and some games during the season at area private schools. Her busy time is January through March when she works five to six days a week with basketball and volleyball. Buschmann gets her fair share of unsolicited comments from spectators watching the games she refs. “Mostly the rude comments come from fans that just don’t know the rules of the game,” she said. Buschmann is sometimes in the position with an agitator where she must decide if she’s going to ignore or address the situation. “You can ignore the comments or if it goes on too long, try to diffuse the situation by explaining a call during a dead ball,” she said. “I’ll tell you there is no way someone in the stands can get the angle on a call the official on the floor has,” she said. Before Buschmann became an official she thought she had seen the games from all sides. “I’d been a coach, player and a fan, but once I became an official I now have a different view and more respect for the job of the official,” Buschmann said. Officiating is still definitely a male-dominated environment, though more women are calling games. “It a little tougher being a woman official. You have to be on your best at all times,” Buschmann said. “I make sure I don’t put on too much make-up. I don’t wear any jewelry while I’m doing a game. My goal is to be treated equal on the court,” she said. Buschmann has been an Auburn area resident since 1991 and resides in the Lake of the Pines area.