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Grand Ledge native officiates NCAA D2 Women’s Basketball Championship

Amy Sanchez started refereeing after playing basketball at Olivet College
Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 8:57 PM EDT
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GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WILX) - It all started at Grand Ledge High School, where former basketball coach Deb Traxinger recruited Amy Sanchez to play on her team.

After being a four-year starter, Sanchez went on to play at Olivet college.

That’s where Traxinger then officiated a few of her games.

“I remember her telling me ‘hey you should get into officiating, it’s a great way to stay in the game.’ and she was right,” said Sanchez. “I thought why not? I played basketball, I should be able to ref it.”

“I knew she had the personality and the smarts. So I encouraged her to do it,” said Traxinger. “She started out small working high school like everybody else does, and then gradually moved up.”

Sanchez has made it to the big stage, as one of the referees in Friday’s NCAA DII championship between Lubbock Christian and Drury.

Any referee will tell you it’s hard to climb the ladder.

Sanchez says that grind has been worth it.

“It was amazing to feel what you’ve known all along, that you’ve had this particular skill...and for it to be validated by the NCAA committee,” she said. “After the game, our crew is in the locker room, and hearing the songs for the team that won. You want to be out there because you’re celebrating a successful season for yourself as well.”

Sanchez says it’s hard officiating with a full-time job and a family, but that makes it all even more worthwhile.

“One of the greatest things I can do as a parent is show my kids what I’m doing. So my husband and I both referee and kind of juggle that with our family, but it is rewarding.”

Traxinger says she’s happy Sanchez told her about Friday’s game.

“All coaches want their players to succeed in life. Any coach that has a former player reach this pinnacle that Amy has is just got to be proud.”

Sanchez officiates in the Northern Sun conference in division two.

She’s working division one games as well in the Summit Conference.

Sanchez hopes she’ll be able to ref in the division one tournaments.

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