by Mark W. Wright via theundefeated.com
Sharlanda Demingo had to make a call — and a tough one at that.
Her son, Amadious, demanded that she quit one of her jobs so he could see more of her at home.
“He was in middle school and playing basketball,” Demingo recalled of the conversation with her then-12-year-old. “He was in the band, and I would miss his games sometimes because I was always out, either at a basketball game or at a football game, so I couldn’t go to his marching band events.”
When Amadious’ grades started to suffer, things got real. “It seemed like he started struggling in school, too, so I had to pay attention to that.”
At the time, Demingo had been pursuing her passion as a referee, in basketball and football. As much as she knew she had to put her time in, success there couldn’t come at the expense of family. “So I decided to pursue football primarily and if I wanted to do basketball, I’d do some rec games on the side but not continue to pursue basketball.”
It was the best call she could have made — there’s been zero second-guessing.
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Demingo developed a love for basketball after joining the Air Force in 2002. After completing basic training in Lackland, Texas, her first duty station stop took her to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, where she started officiating basketball, following in her father’s footsteps.
“Growing up as a little girl, my dad used to officiate basketball, so I used to go to the games with him,” said Demingo, who continued refereeing after her tour ended in Germany and her second stop — in Hurlburt Field, Florida — began.
By 2006, when she got out of the military and moved to Atlanta, Demingo had added football to her repertoire — and now she will be part of an all-female, five-person officiating crew poised to manage the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) football championship game, between Fayetteville State and Bowie State, Saturday in Salem, Virginia.
Bowie State enters the game 8-2 overall, 8-1 against Division II competition and 6-1 against CIAA opponents. It is led by quarterback Amir Hall, the leading passer in Division II who was the 2017 Black College Player of the Year. It’s Bowie State’s third appearance in the championship game in five seasons.
Fayetteville State enters the title game with a 6-2 record, 6-1 against Division II competition and 5-1 against CIAA foes. The Broncos had two games canceled because of Hurricane Florence. But that didn’t stop them in the conference’s Southern Division, and they claimed its championship spot in Week 9 with a win over Livingstone and Shaw University’s win over Winston-Salem State.
For the CIAA, having female officials covering football as well as other sports in the conference is vitally important — something its commissioner, Jacqie McWilliams, has championed from the beginning.
“Our teams, sports fans, students and the overall community benefit from having balanced, diverse and inclusive teams officiating all of our sports,” McWilliams explained. “It’s important to me the CIAA lead by example.”