Carmen Hawk spent all day Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse letting the anticipation build toward her first assignment as an official in a basketball state championship game.
The Morristown native was one of three officials selected to work the Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A girls basketball state championship game between Franklin and Noblesville.
“During the introductions I stood there and looked up and took it all in,” she said. “There were almost 10,000 people there. It was maybe the biggest game I will ref in my career.”
With the assignment, Hawk (photo, right) has now completed the trifecta of working IHSAA state championship events in all three seasons.
On June 9, 2018, Hawk was an umpire in the Class 4A softball state championship game between Decatur Central and Lake Central. Decatur Central won 5-2 at Bittinger Stadium on the campus of Purdue University.
Five months later, Hawk was assigned the Class 3A volleyball state championship game between New Castle and Northview. New Castle won 25-22, 25-20, 25-14 on Nov. 3, 2018, at Worthen Arena at Ball State University.
But basketball is a headlining sport in Indiana and Hawk was honored to be part of the state championship day at the home of the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever.
“The fans are not right on the court so I couldn’t hear individuals yelling. That was a big difference,” said Hawk. “The first quarter, it was a lot of up and down. The kids wanted to run and we let them play. There were not a lot of whistles.”
Ashlynn Shade, a University of Connecticut recruit, scored a game-high 31 points to lead Noblesville to a 76-52 victory Saturday night.
“She is amazing,” said Hawk of the Noblesville junior. “If she was 6-2 or 6-3 she would be one of the best players in the country. She may be already.”
Hawk learned of her assignment to a state championship game on Feb. 19 – the day she worked the Class 2A semistate championship game in Jasper between Forest Park and University.
The three official crew selected included Scott Arthur (photo, center) and Kevin Lewis (photo, left) -- both worked semistate games at Jeffersonville that same day.
Arthur was the lead official in Tecumseh’s 54-42 win over Waldron while Lewis worked Silver Creek’s 64-54 win over Chatard.
While watching the Class 3A state championship game Saturday night, Hawk received a phone call from her daughter, who showed up unexpectedly at Gainbridge Fieldhouse with several of her volleyball teammates to cheer her on.
“I screamed. It was the only time I was in tears (all day),” said Hawk.
Hawk, who got her officiating license not long after she graduated from Morristown High School, is excited about a new initiative to entice high school students to pursue officiating. Those interested can work junior high and middle school contests with a licensed official and be paid for the experience. Hawk’s two oldest children have expressed an interest in following in mom’s footsteps.
While Hawk has worked lower level NAIA and Division III women’s basketball games and softball games in the past, she found the college experience very time consuming with the amount of travel involved.
“I’ve found my niche at the high school level,” she said. “I’ve now made it to the state finals in all three sports. I want to focus now on new officials, especially women officials, and mentor them.
“And I would love to work more state finals.”
The basketball officiating season is not yet over for Hawk, though. She was assigned to Class 3A, Sectional 29 this week at Connersville that features two state-ranked boys basketball teams in the host Spartans (18-6) and Greensburg (20-4).