Kingman referee at state hoops champs

Referees, like athletes, are judged by their performance on the field or the court and making it to a big game is a huge endorsement of their dedication and ability.

The majority of referees for the state basketball tournaments come from Phoenix and Tucson.

Refs from the more rural areas of the state are seldom invited.

That's why when Kingman' Danny Hosler was asked to referee a state championship semifinal basketball game at America West Arena it was a surprise.

"I got the notice in the mail and said 'What? I've got to reread this,'" Hosler said.

"I was pretty honored to get that.

It's an honor for someone from Kingman to go."

Hosler was invited to referee the 4A girls state semifinal basketball game between Scottsdale Chaparral and Tucson Catalina.

Chaparral won the game, but lost the state title game to Phoenix Thunderbird.

Hosler, 36, began officiating nine years ago and worked his way up through the ranks.

He started with junior high basketball, moved up to adult recreational leagues and eventually reached the top level in high school sports.

Hosler, who works in the meat department at Bashas', now officiates varsity football, basketball, baseball and adult softball.

It's a course he got started on because he took a challenge personally.

"I always played sports.

I played football, basketball and baseball in high school.

I kept playing when we moved here," Hosler, who transferred with Bashas'from Phoenix to Kingman in 1990, said.

"I was always critical of the officials and one day one said to me 'If you think you can do better, why don't you do it?"

Hosler didn't hesitate.

He took up the challenge and this season was the only official from Mohave County to be asked to work a state tournament game.

"The coaches nominate you to the area commissioner.

He's based in Lake Havasu," Hosler said.

"He'll recommend you to the state commissioner, who picks all the referees for American West Arena.

Gary Welchel, the commissioner from the state, had seen me a few times.

He knew what I could do so he picked me.

"It's a big honor."

It's also a test, of sorts.

"It's quite intimidating when you walk in," Hosler said.

"Every evaluator in the state is in there.

They're all sitting there in their red jackets."

After the initial jolt of being greeted by the Arizona Interscholastic Association officials, they lay out the game plan.

"You have your own evaluator for your game and he charts your calls," Hosler said.

"Then, after the game, they go over it with you.

They watch every move you make.

They watch where you are and what you're doing during the game, even where you're eyes are looking.

"But, (the evaluation) is really good.

It helps you."

Hosler enjoys being out there and part of the game no matter what sport it is, but he confesses basketball is his favorite.

"Basketball is my favorite because the crowd is so close.

You really can't hear anything, because it's so loud," Hosler said.

"Football is a close second.

I love football for the intensity of the kids."

And he doesn't let the jibes from the crowd get to him no matter what the sport.

"Baseball is probably my least favorite for that.

There are no technicals.

In basketball if you give someone a technical and they settle down," Hosler said.

"In baseball it's pretty cut and dried.

You've got to throw them out and you really don't want to throw anyone out.

"It's hard in Kingman because they all know my name."

Hosler has reached the top level of officiating in the area with high school varsity sports, but that won't slow him down in his effort to improve his skills.

"I'm happy doing what I'm doing.

I go to camps every summer just to get better," Hosler said.

"I've been to a couple of NBA camps.

I've learned a lot about the NBA and how they do it.

"I get about three weeks off after softball and before football starts.

It keeps me busy."