Russell Henson

Basketball, football, soccer, and softball official

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Joined Silbo

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Games Officiated

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How did you get into officiating?

I got started in refereeing by accident. While stationed at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in 2011 I found myself in need of a second job to supplement my Navy pay. I needed something that wouldn’t interfere with my military duties, but paid enough to eat and pay rent. My command Masterchief was aware of my situation and put me in touch with a retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Major who ran the base sports programs. I ended up officiating tackle and flag football, soccer, softball, and basketball.  


Did you have any mentors?

For my first game I got paired up with two retired Navy officers, a Masterchief and a LCDR, both of whom had been refereeing for over 40 years combined. They taught me the ins and outs of officiating. I learned how to position myself to make the best calls, keep up with the flow of the game, and to always remain neutral.


How was the transition from playing to officiating?

I grew up playing basketball so the rules were familiar to me, but it became more important on how to position myself in coordination with the other referees. I became more aware of all the different actions going on especially under the basket. My court awareness got much better as I weaned myself off being caught up in what was going on and concentrated on what was in front of me. The hardest part was distancing myself from the players and coaches in order to maintain a neutrality zone of objectivity. Although now I try to give some friendly advice and words of encouragement to all the basketball players both boys and girls regardless of age.

I met some really good officials who helped me become a better referee and a few budding stars who hopefully make it to the next level of college and the professional ranks.

Can you share some advice for new officials?

Dress the part, uniform shirt tucked in, black athletic pants and all black or mostly black shoes and socks. Be fair, be accurate, and be consistent!


When did you start officiating with Silbo?

I kept the officiating life going for five years until I retired in 2016. Then I heard about Silbo last December and decided to restart my referee life. I started working basketball games with Silbo in Arlington, VA and met some really good officials who helped me become a better referee.


What’s your favorite thing about Silbo?

It’s quick and easy to pick games, check in, and update info.

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Basketball referee

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Basketball, baseball, and softball official

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