A group of women football officials is making history in Michigan!
Head line judge Caryn Jackson, referee Nicole Randolph, line judge Delonda Little, umpire RanDee Henry, and back judge Kamaria Douglas, had a game to remember on September 21 when they officiated the Waterford Kettering versus Detroit Lincoln-King varsity game at Detroit Mercy.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association reports that their work as officials at the game is thought to be the first time a varsity football match has had an all-female officiating crew in the state’s history.
Henry said the moment was even more special because the women are all friends.
“This game, although historic, was even more amazing because I got to do it with friends,” Henry said. “All of these women have strong friendships on and off the field, making this moment even more amazing and monumental.”
Jackson told MHSSA that she posted about the milestone event on her social media account shortly before kickoff. The post ending up pulling in 23,000 engagements in an hour.
“For my children, I always tell them to leave your mark wherever you go and whatever you do,” she said. “Be a part of history. Who knew I would be refereeing high school, let alone doing it with all women? It feels good when I walk the football field and people are cheering just because they see a woman. People say ‘I’m glad you’re here, ref.’ I’ve had young boys walk up to me and shake my hand and say thank you for making history, and that you’re the first female official I have had. That stuff makes me feel good. To do it alongside four other women, that was amazing.”
Jackson has worked as an official for both high school and collegiate football in the state of Michigan. Randolph works as an official for the Big Ten football league. And Douglass, Little, and Henry also work as college basketball officials
Little even made history in March when she became the first woman to officiate an MHSAA Boys Basketball Final since 1995.
She refereed the Division 3 championship game, which was held at the Breslin Center in Michigan.
“Women are breaking barriers, and it’s nice to be acknowledged and to have some gender equality out there,” she said. “We all felt good to get the support during the game from the coaches and the fans. Both coaches told us we did a great job. Coaches wanted to take pictures with us to be a part of the historical moment. Fans as we were leaving told us we did a good job.”
Little continued, “Women, we still have a long way to go. But it’s good we are getting the acknowledgment we deserve. There should be gender equality.”
Photo by Michigan High School Athletic Association