The Drew League’s “Just Do It” series will highlight how members of the extended Drew League family use the Drew as a platform for making their craziest dreams happen through the game of basketball and life.
There are a lot of figures that make up the Drew League community besides players. Referees fulfill a major role in the consistency and excellence at the Drew.
Crystal Hogan has been a part of that consistency and excellence as a Drew League referee for more than a decade. But Hogan watched the Drew for two years after being introduced to the league by professional referee Kevin Cutler, and she still needed to be convinced to participate.
“Honestly, I didn’t even want to come after that,” Hogan said of her experience watching the Drew. “I got pushed out here to come referee. And it’s just history from that point on.”
Before Hogan picked up a whistle 16 years ago, she was an accomplished player in her own right. Hogan starred at Dominguez in high school, went on to Compton College, then graduated from Long Beach State in 2000 after receiving a full athletic scholarship. That playing experience allowed for a natural introduction to her next step in basketball.
“After Long Beach State, I got a little burned out with playing,” Hogan said. “My mentor [Cutler] brought to me refereeing. ‘Easy way to make money? Okay.’ I did it for the money initially. High school basketball in the Long Beach unit, I refereed high school basketball. Then I developed a passion for refereeing boys basketball in the Long Beach unit. Had some hurdles with that, but I overcame those hurdles, and the rest is history.”
Hogan credits the Drew League for allowing her to enter multiple levels of basketball as a referee, as well as work with elite talent on the professional level.
“The Drew League has been very instrumental in my success as a woman in officiating, especially in a man’s game,” Hogan said. “I have accomplished a lot with officiating, and it’s all, honestly because of the Drew League.
“I developed into a Division I women’s official due to the Drew League. I worked in the NBA D-League, which is now the G League, due to the Drew League. I got a chance to ref my favorite all-time player, which is Kobe Bryant, in the Drew League. … It’s just a great atmosphere, and a family friendly atmosphere that I enjoy coming to every weekend,” Hogan said. “Every weekend.”
This summer, Hogan saw her 17-year-old daughter Taylor Thomas go off to college at Hampton University; Taylor earned a Drew League Foundation scholarship as well. All of that puts the focus back on Hogan’s career ambitions.
“I hope to one day pursue a career as a men’s basketball official,” Hogan says. “That’s one of my goals.”
Hogan believes that the Drew League has given her an opportunity to reach out to other women and encourage them to be referees as well.
“I would say to all the little girls out there, all the women out there that want to referee men’s basketball, do it,” Hogan said. “It’s the best thing.”