The Maywood CES Wolfpack vs Marquez Gladiators football game marked the first time in CIF City Section history that the officiant squad was made of women.
The officiant squad included Crystal Nichols, LaQuica Hawkins, Connie Wells, Kim Bly, and Zina Jones. Prior to the game, they received commendations from Huntington Park mayor Eduardo Martinez. The all-female officiant team was also created in honor of Breast Cancer awareness month.
Hawkins was overwhelmed and humbled by being chosen to officiate in the historic game.
“It gives me chills, it’s just such a special opportunity, that’s something that one of my mentors has been putting together for years,” Hawkins said. “I’m so happy and honored to that post-COVID we can finally put it together and do something so special here at Marquez.”
Wells has been a football official for 13 years along with refereeing basketball for 23 years and volleyball for 15 years. She noted the importance of being proactive when it comes to health.
“We want to encourage women to self-check monthly,” Wells said. “If we catch [cancer] in time, you can be cured.”
Nichols has worked with all-female crews when she worked as an official in Sweden, Finland, and Germany for the NFL. This was the first time she worked with a crew of all Black females.
“I have three high school championships but all my international medals were all with women but they were with women who didn’t speak my language, I didn’t speak their language but our heart was on the football field,” Nichols said. “To officiate with girls that I’ve done basketball with and football with and help recruit, it’s fun, it’s a Blessing.”
Being an officiant helped Bly with her communication and leadership skills along with improving her confidence. For aspiring officials, she recommends going to check in with their local units to see the requirements needed to become one.
“We can use this platform to inspire young girls, not just of African American origin, but all girls to pursue their goals, go out and do what you want to do,” Bly said. “You have to believe that you can, even if it doesn’t come when you think it should.”
Officiating a game that honored breast cancer awareness hit home for Jones as her sister survived two bouts with the disease.
“For me to have that incentive to press other people to become more aware, get tested,” Jones said. “I think that everybody needs to be tested and know their bodies.”
Veteran football official Keith Scooter Goldsmith was inspired to have an all-female officiating crew at Marquez when he worked a game there in 2012.
“Each woman that’s on that field is there for a reason,” Scooter Goldsmith said. “They officiate a lot of different sports.”
Marquez defeated Maywood CES 61-20, Gladiators senior Jonathan Aguirre scored three rushing touchdowns in the matchup.
“It’s good to be a part of history,” Aguirre said. “The mayor was out here, everyone was out here, it was a great atmosphere.”