Tulsa Airman Sharpens Skills As Basketball Referee

Hawkins in action (photo courtesy DVIDS/Dept. of Defense)

An airman who calls Tulsa home is using his down time overseas to sharpen a special skill set and teach others.

Oklahoma Air National Guard Master Sgt. Marcus Hawkins is on assignment in southeast Asia. But when he's not on duty, you'll find Hawkins on the basketball court serving as a volunteer referee.

Hawkins does it as practice because he hopes to one day be a professional referee in the NCAA.

"I always had a passion for the game. But then I eventually got to the point where I really couldn't play anymore. So I decided to be a part of the game but in a different way," Hawkins said.

When he's in Tulsa, Hawkins said he learns from officials at the Officials of Oklahoma Association.

"I have key mentors that really help me perfect the craft - Mr. Raymond Shipp and Mr. Scott Davis. Both have well over a combined 30 years' experience that they are pouring into me," Hawkins explained in an e-mail.

Hawkins played basketball for 3 years at Del City High School and graduated from there in 1994. From there, he played in the Marine Corps from 1997 to 1998.

Now, Hawkins is taking what he's learned about officiating, and passing it on to other volunteer referees on base.

"I actually understand the game better now more than I did when I played. The men and women that truly take officiating basketball serious really love to do this and it is fun. It's not a job to me although I take it serious," he said.

Hawkins is a part of the 138th Fighter Wing Based in Tulsa.

The Department of Defense, DVIDS and Staff Sgt. George Solis of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing contributed to this story.