Getting to Know WNBA Official Tina Napier
with Matt Wurst,

The Crew Chief Explains...
An Example of an Offensive Foul

"Watch this play unfold as the Indiana player (Tamika Catchings) moves the ball down on offense into the key. On this play, the defender (Dawn Staley) gets to the spot first and has her torso in a perpendicular to the path of the offensive player, who then makes contact with the defender after passing the ball. This is accurately called an offensive foul."

Q. How did you first get into officiating?
"I actually played college basketball at Morehead State University, a little school in Eastern Kentucky. I really wanted to stay involved in the game, got into coaching and did that for a little bit, then kinda fell into officiating.

Q. So having been a player and a coach, does that help you understand what players are thinking or how they might react?
"It helps a tremendous amount. When you play the game, you have a better feel for it. I can see frustrations and remember instances from when I played. I can relate and understand if they are angry or upset. It's a big part of what I do."

Q. Is this your full-time job?
"Well I don't have a construction business like Bryan (Enterline). I wish I did, though. No, I am a full-time referee. I work the college season, then get a little bit of a break and then start the WNBA season. That's what I do full-time."

Q. Are there any games or memories that stand out?
"Anytime you work a Final Four, it is a special experience. Last year was the second year in a row. Being involved in that is a wonderful feeling. But every game is important and they are all big games."

Q. What would you say is the toughest part about your job?
"You hear a lot of officials say this, but the travel is really the hardest part of what we do. It can wear you down some. You just have to get sleep and eat right. The fans and the criticism that we occasionally hear is part of it. You just don't take it personally."

Tina Napier was front and center with her fellow refs at this year's All-Star Game.
Q. So this is something you could see yourself doing forever?
"Absoutely. I hope so. I hope I can stay healthy and the passion is still there. I love basketball, so I'm going to be doing something with this game."

Q. How long have you been a ref with the WNBA?
"I am going to finish up my sixth season this year."

Q. In those six years, how do you think the league has changed?
"The players are definitely bigger, stronger, quicker, more athletic. I have games sometimes where I marvel at what the players are able to do. I recently worked a game where Lindsay Whalen was playing and some of the things she did in that game were unthinkable back a few years ago. There used to be 5-6 or 5-7 guards, but now there are 6-0, 6-1 guards. Back then, those were your power forwards."

Q. So with a bigger, more physical games, does that change the way you call a game?
"We are always evolving with the game. We have to. If we don't keep growing and evolving, then it is not good for the game. We have to stay with it."

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