Creighton’s Chris Green named All-American referee
Four years ago, in his senior year of high school, Chris Green volunteered to “referee” kindergartners taking their first hesitant steps on a basketball court.
On April 10, he was named an All-American official at the 2022 NIRSA National Basketball Championships held in Wichita, Kansas, the highest national award a student official can earn. He emerged at the top of the heap after professional referees, on site and focusing closely on performance, judged 34 student officials.
Green’s ascent has certainly been rapid.
It was quite the task, he recalls, simply to stop those kindergartners from running out of bounds. Within the space of four years, however, he ascended to officiating high school and collegiate basketball.
“This just feels like one of those things I’m naturally good at,” he says. “It’s kind of weird, because growing up I didn’t have a lot of confidence. And yet, when it came to officiating, my confidence exploded. I just felt really able to make decisions. It all just came together for me.”
Green is a commuter student at Creighton University, meaning he lives in Omaha with family and commutes to school. He expects to graduate in 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.
Green says his journey to officiating gained pace after arriving at Creighton in 2019, when he saw an advertisement seeking officials for intramural flag football. He attended the first training session and then the next, and then another, and soon began securing work off campus officiating third- and fourth-grade basketball games. During his sophomore year, Green officiated his first high school basketball games and this year was selected to officiate a regional NIRSA tournament at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After being ranked the No. 1 official there, he automatically qualified to referee the national NIRSA tournament.
NIRSA, which now goes solely by an acronym that until 2012 stood for National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, is the governing body for all recreational sports on college campuses and organizes regional and national intramural/club competition.
The national tournament in Wichita proved instructive, Green says.
“It’s always lurking somewhere in the back of your mind that you’re being watched and judged,” he says. “But at some point, you have to push that away and just focus on the game.”
The judges, who include NCAA and even NBA officials, gather with the student refs at halftime to give advice, and at the conclusion of the game provide in-depth analysis.
“You go up to a room and go through the entire game, break down everything,” he says. “Positioning. Which was a right call, which was a wrong call, which was a good no-call, which was a bad no call. Also, game management — how you look on camera, just everything to help you improve.”
Green considers he may have a future in officiating.
“I think I have decided that I will try to pursue this,” he says. “I feel that this is one of those things that I am good at right now, but that I have the potential later on to become exceptional.
“With my work ethic, I know I can go really far. But I’m taking it one day at a time.”
Green is Creighton’s first All-American basketball official. The University has produced seven All-American flag football officials, who, all told, have earned 12 All-American awards. Twenty-four All-Regional awards have been won since 2009 by 15 Creighton students.
Intramural sports are a major feature of life at Creighton, with students able to compete with each other in flag football, soccer, volleyball, softball and basketball, among others. Campus clubs grant access to additional sports, and to competition with other universities. Among these are basketball, quidditch, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, volleyball, ultimate frisbee and swimming. Full information is available at Recreation and Wellness.
“Intramural sports at Creighton give students the opportunity to leverage their competitive spirits in a fun, safe environment,” says Greg Durham, director of recreation and wellness and himself a former Division I basketball official. “While we’re proud of the opportunity to give the larger student body opportunities to compete in the sports they love, we are even more proud of helping students develop a passion for officiating.
“Creighton has a very long history of high-level officiating, with many alumni officiating Division I basketball, football and more.”
Students interested in officiating can learn more by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.