On Thursday night, four of the seven officials at the Miles College vs. Lane College game were female. The D-II matchup between the Southern Intercollege Athletic Conference (SIAC) was the first time the majority of the officials were females in an NCAA game.
The women were head linesman Yvonda Lewis, line judge Tangela Mitchell, field judge Sebrina Brunson and back judge Krystle Apellaniz.
“They paid their dues,” said Harold Mitchell, director of officiating for the SIAC and SWAC. “They’ve done what’s necessary to get in this position. They’ve earned it. And I’m hoping it will show the world that females can officiate just as well as men, and I’m hoping that more females will take the step to try to become football officials.”
NFL’s director of officiating David Coleman and director of recruiting Ron Baynes attended the game. The league began the Women Officiating Now (W.O.N) this year and they hope to recruit women as officials. Shannon Eastin is the only woman to officiate an NFL game. She was a line judge during a Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers preseason game last year.
“Will there be women officiating in the NFL? Yes, there will be, because we’re committed to having the best officials,” Coleman said. “We’re committed to having excellence in officiating at all levels. We’re looking for the best officials. When we have women, just like when we have men who are in that group, they will go in that (development) program.