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How these 4 women are making history on the basketball court: 'It's really just humbling'

How these 4 women are making history on the basketball court: 'It's really just humbling'
Posted at 10:01 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 22:01:01-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Four women recently made history on the basketball court.

They are now recognized as the first team of women in the country to call the shots in a high school boy's state championship game.

Danyelle Smith, Chelisa Painter, Monnazjea Finney-Smith and Derricka Henry have been running the floor for years. Between them, they have at least 20 years of officiating experience.

All four women played basketball and college and two of them took their talents to play professionally. They have worked together as referees for some time.

"Over the years, we just develop a vibe, per se. And so we know each other's style while we own the court," Smith said.

The group is now together for a historic accomplishment.

"We're making history with three wonderful women," Finney-Smith said.

"It's really just humbling," Henry said.

NBA referee Tony Brothers assembled the team.

"We have about 15 women that I could send here. I picked three, one's in the G League. One is being observed by the NBA, the other one works in the MEAC, and so the credentials that they have helped with the assignment," Brothers said.

The women refer to Brothers as their coach and mentor.

"For me, it's just really been about creating an opportunity like an opportunity was created for me," Brothers said.

He has been with the NBA for 28 years and serves as commissioner of the Virginia Basketball Officials Association. Brothers said he uses his platform to open doors for others.

"I just think it's time for us to start looking at people as people and realize that everyone can do something and it doesn't have anything to do with gender or ethnicity, doesn't have to do anything to do with those things," Brothers said.

This stage puts the women in a position to advance to the next level of their careers.

"I think every official's dream is to always be at the top level," Smith said.

Each team on the court has a lot on the line.

"In the same way that they're playing for something, we're playing for something," Painter said.

Everyone is taking their best shot and hoping for a big win.

"I'm playing for just all the women out there. You know, like, this opportunity, it's just, it's amazing," Painter said.