'Women in Sports': Hoop Referee Lezley Smith

Monday, December 8, 2014

Latest in a series

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. In addition, the seminar will include a "professional development segment" and networking reception presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event.

Lezley Smith
College Basketball Referee 

 Colleges attended:

  • Spelman College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Washington

 College major:

  • BS Mathematics
  • BS Electrical Engineering
  • MSE Bioengineering

Current position and years:

  • Basketball Official (19)
  • Test Engineer (11)

Things I enjoy most about my job:

  • Officiating: The people that I have met and the friendships that I have developed
  • Engineer - ever changing challenges that technology poses to continue to automate test processes and learning about new technology and how best to verify it functions correctly

First job in the sports industry: Officiating basketball

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: Officiating - Julie Mitchell

How I got involved in my professional career: Officiating -- I was playing intramural basketball as an undergrad and each team was asked to provide one person who would become an official. My boyfriend and I decided to do it. I found it to be enjoyable and a nice way to earn some extra money so sought it out when I attended grad school. A friend of mine was officiating high school basketball and sent me the contact information of the assignor if I decided I wanted to do it for real. So, I contacted them and started officiating high school basketball.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: Getting a veteran-worthy DII officiating schedule with several crew chief opportunities.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: Perseverance and tenacity.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: Explore all the opportunities available to you in your desired area from the bottom rung to the top. Get internships that will expose you to positions that you are interested. Good and bad experiences can provide valuable information.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be? My Dad. He is a wealth of knowledge and I really admire how he approaches challenging situations.

Favorite sports team: Seattle Seahawks

Favorite athlete: Jackie Joyner Kersee

Most memorable sports-related moment: 2014/2015 NFC Championship game ... just usurped the 2013/2014 Super Bowl game.