violet palmer

Violet Palmer is considered a trailblazer in the NBA.  Currently, she’s the leagues only female referee and she’s thankful for it, although it came with challenges.

From racism to sexism, Palmer has experienced it all since she started her officiating career on the national level in 1997. 

“Every negative thing you can think of, they’ve thrown it at me.”

” ‘You’re not going to make it.’ ‘Why are you here? Go back to WNBA.’ ‘Players and coaches are not going to accept you.’ ‘Your guys that you work with, they’re not going to accept you.’ ”

From CNN:

Before becoming an NBA official, Palmer refereed high school and college-level games, racking up nine years of collegiate officiating experience, as well as five NCAA Final Fours and two NCAA Championship games. Then the NBA began to take notice.

In 1997, she was recruited by the NBA to try out for a position in the league.

“You give me a shot … you know how you crack the door? I just kicked it right open.”

Palmer was one of two female recruits that year, shattering the glass ceiling for female referees wanting a shot in the NBA.

Being the only woman on the court isn’t new to Palmer.  As a former athlete, Palmer was the only girl on her  little league team. She just wanted to play, she didn’t care who she had to play with.  Later in life Palmer, the Compton, California native,  Compton, California, native played basketball for her school’s teams in junior high, high school, and college. She earned her a full athletic scholarship to California Polytechnic State University, where she won two NCAA Women’s Championships.

Can you say, “She Got Game?”

Palmer may not be the only woman for long.   “The bar is really high, but I can honestly say we have two women right now that are in our training program, and they are awesome.”

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  • Good for Violet. She obviously has experience both as a player and ref before she went to the NBA. And they came to her. Let’s not forget that. When you have a special gift people will come to you.

  • I didn’t know they had women referee’s in the NBA. Good for her, she’s knocking down doors. Soon there will be women’s referees in the NFL.

  • TR

    Violet has been in the league for quite a while now. I’ve notice her officiating some big playoff games over the last few years. The NBA currently has a nearly 75 year old Dick Bavetta still officiating games. If the league thinks he is still sharp enough to ref games than surely Violet and other women are good enough.

  • LN

    Awesome! Thanks for this story Clutch. Love to read things like this.

  • SayWhat

    Congrats, Woot Woot!!