‘Eye for the game’

Dragons senior captain Barney now calling the fouls

Submitted photo Warren Area High School senior and PIAA basketball official Caitlin Barney with Tim LaVan.

Caitlin Barney has had a few fouls called on her during four years playing for Warren’s girls basketball team and head coach Lisa LaVan. She’s also called a few fouls herself.

Barney is a Warren Area High School senior and was a team captain during a season in which the Lady Dragons finished 21-6, including the program’s first-ever PIAA playoff win.

LaVan couldn’t be more proud of Caitlin’s role in the program.

“Cait has always been like a daughter to me,” said LaVan. “She has been involved in our program since third grade. She has always worked so hard.”

LaVan’s husband, Tim, is a District 10 rules interpreter and an officials assignor, as well as a basketball official in Districts 9 and 10. He has officiated both boys and girls PIAA championship games.

“Last year when the junior officials program came out, we talked as a team about having those that wanted to take the test to register, and we would take the test together,” said Lisa. “Caitlin was very interested and I thought she would be an amazing ref. She has a great eye for the game and sees things so well. She passed the test with flying colors and worked games this past season with great mentors like Tim LaVan, Alex LaBruzzo and Kody Vega. Tim has done a great job making sure she gets a workable schedule as her assignor and put her with great people to work with.”

Barney plans to continue officiating while she’s a college student.

“Lisa and Tim brought the idea of reffing to me around last year as I was finally old enough,” said Barney. “There are not a lot of women referees out there and, with my knowledge of basketball and how the game works, it seemed fun. Lisa and Tim helped me through it all with getting my clearances and my uniform. Tim reffed my first game with me and, even though I was nervous, he still made it fun. I have reffed many games since and it’s just an enjoyable time, meeting new people and going to new places. I have reffed elementary and middle school games, which were fun and easy.

“My goal with reffing right now is to keep learning and growing confident,” she added. “I will be reffing in college so that will be nice to see familiar faces. I do see myself continuing with it after college and as far as it will take me as this is something that I will always find happiness in.”

Basketball itself is something Barney will always find happiness in.

“There is so much to say about basketball and the joy it has brought me for the past seven years,” Barney said. “I love the connections this sport brings to you and all the new friends you make along the way. Going to Florida was an amazing experience, along with each of our team camps. We were such a close team my senior year and it just made the season that much better.

“Lisa is one of the people I look up to the most,” she added. “I will always be close with her and she has taught me so many life lessons I will carry with me. She is such a hardworking lady and I admire her work ethic. The Warren Lady Dragon Basketball team is tough. You are pushed hard and some days it’s long, but we are all there for one reason and it’s because of our shared love for basketball. This team pushes each other to be the best of ourselves and to pick each other up. Everyone loves each other and the bonds we have made with each other are like no other.”

Going from playing to reffing isn’t necessarily the easiest transition.

“I have messed up, but everyone is there to help you as they know you are new,” said Barney. “I have learned to be confident in my hand signals and blowing my whistle since my first game. I would say it has gotten easier in a sense as my nerves are not as high because of the confidence I have grown. I do still get a little nervous because you never know how people are going to act, but it is still so enjoyable to be able to ref the game I love and stay close with it and the people that have brought me into it. It is a little hard watching these kids play the game I hold very close to my heart, but it makes me so happy to see when a kid makes a basket and their teammates go crazy for them as it reminds me of my own teammates.”


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