Local Girls Hoops Referees Honor Three of Their Own

The 2016 MAGBO Hall of Fame class included Eileen Shea (represented from left by Matt Shea, Kayleigh O’Brien, Kate Shea and Jim Shea and from right by Chris Kelly and Terry O’Brien), Anita Morse, special award winner Kenwyn Christian and Sue Shepherd. Photo © Jim Mancari
The 2016 MAGBO Hall of Fame class included Eileen Shea (represented from left by Matt Shea, Kayleigh O’Brien, Kate Shea and Jim Shea and from right by Chris Kelly and Terry O’Brien), Anita Morse, special award winner Kenwyn Christian and Sue Shepherd. Photo © Jim Mancari

The list of people who have made a contribution to the local CHSAA is endless.

From athletes to coaches to athletic directors to administrators, the league is a well-oiled machine thanks to many parts working well together.

However, a facet of the league that often gets overlooked, but is just as important, is the dedication of the referees and officials that ensure games are being played fairly with the ideals of the Catholic League in mind.

A necessary characteristic of officials is to never seek any recognition. In fact, their goal is to not even be approached after a contest, meaning they had no influence whatsoever on the outcome.

On Oct. 1, Metropolitan Approved Girls Basketball Officials (MAGBO) hosted its second annual gala at The Oak Room at Buckley’s Tavern in Marine Park to honor three individuals who have made an impact through their officiating.

The organization provides professional development to enhance the experience of its members who officiate women’s basketball at all levels.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees included Anita Morse, Sue Shepherd and Eileen Shea, who was inducted posthumously.

“All three of these women are considered pioneers in the sport of women’s basketball in the New York City area and have helped elevate girls’ sports at the high school level,” said Jim Grillo, president of MAGBO and the co-athletic director at St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay.

Morse played four years of college basketball at Long Island University, Downtown Brooklyn, and began her career officiating games at the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) level and the CHSAA.

An early highlight of her career included officiating at the first Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) girls’ basketball finals at Madison Square Garden in 1990. She also officiated three rounds of the 1996 NCAA Division III Tournament, including the finals.

In total, she officiated in five collegiate athletic conferences: Ivy League, Northeast Conference, New York Collegiate Athletic Conference, East Coast Athletic Conference and the Garden State Board of Officials.

A graduate of “The Referee’s Camp” headlined by June Courteau and Marcy Watson, Morse also served as the girls’ basketball assigner for the Athletic Association of Independent Schools and was an observer of PSAL officials from 1993 to 2000.

“It is my honor to be inducted into MAGBO’s Hall of Fame the second year,” Morse said. “It is great to see old faces, new faces and the next crew that will be making something for themselves.”

Shepherd also began as a basketball official in the CYO and CHSAA. She officiated CHSAA state tournament games and the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions.

One of the founders of In Position Officials Camp, she served as assigner for CHSAA officials in both the Diocese of Brooklyn and Archdiocese New York.

In addition to working as an educator, assistant principal and the athletic director at St. John Villa Academy, Staten Island, Shepherd is the president of the GCHSAA in the Archdiocese of New York.

“Refereeing for me was a way to stay involved in a game that I absolutely love,” Shepherd said.

Shea was a parishioner at Good Shepherd, Marine Park, who was motivated to begin her officiating career by completing a basketball rules course in 1970 as a requirement to play varsity hoops.

Just like the other two inductees, she worked her way up the CYO ladder and moved to the CHSAA varsity basketball ranks. She often officiated games in tandem with her sister Chris Kelly.

Through her career, she achieved certification of being a nationally ranked official. To properly honor her achievements, MAGBO established an award in her name for “Courage in the Face of Adversity,” presented this year to Kenwyn Christian, a current MAGBO member who overcame a health scare to return to the court. The award will be presented each year at the gala.

“This officiating family here…once you get in, it becomes more than the game,” Christian said of receiving the honor. “There are so many different people here tonight, and we’re all family.”

Shea passed away in July 2015 after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Her family members were on hand to accept the induction on her behalf.

“We would like to thank MAGBO for honoring my mom tonight,” said Shea’s daughter Kate. “Anyone that knew her knew how much she loved sports and in particular the game of basketball.”

Along with the Hall of Fame inductions, the gala saw the introduction of two new MAGBO initiatives.

The organization partnered with Battlefields to Ballfields (B2B), a foundation headed by Mike Pereira of Fox Sports that trains returning military veterans to become sports officials. Pereira has offered to pay for the education, training and uniforms for three returning veterans who will join MAGBO, which became the first officiating entity in any sport in the New York City area to be accepted as a partner organization with B2B.

Additionally, MAGBO formed an alliance with Officials vs. Cancer, in which MAGBO members will donate their game fees for a particular week during the upcoming basketball season to the American Cancer Society.

“I was looking for something to put MAGBO into a fundraising situation,” said Kerry Donohue, CEO of MAGBO. “We know officials do more than just referee.”

From honoring worthy officials to establishing new community-minded initiatives, the MAGBO gala was a success as it preserved the legacy of those who have committed their lives to the sport of women’s basketball in New York City.

MAGBO is set to host a basketball officiating basics class on Oct. 13 and a rules clinic featuring Jon Levinson on Oct. 20. For more information, visit

Contact Jim Mancari via email at

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