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by Chris Tobin

Most sports people turn to umpiring or refereeing after years of being a competitor but Reagan Ashley (18) has taken a different path.

From a young age the Roncalli College pupil, who has just finished year 13, found that he preferred refereeing basketball to playing.

“I started playing as a junior at St Joseph’s primary in Timaru.”

At the age of 12 he found refereeing interested him more than playing.

“I enjoyed it because refereeing was giving back and you could see it all from a different perspective.”

Once committed, Reagan started refereeing years 5 and 6, then years 7 and 8 and progressed to bigger Timaru and Christchurch tournaments.

“I did development courses which set me up and gave me the confidence.”

Having to thumb his way through a 200 to 300-page rule book did not faze him.

“I was hooked on the sport and so I was keen to study the rules.

“I spent a lot of time on books and video analysis has been a big thing for me, too.”

Reagan has moved on to refereeing national age group tournaments and is not daunted officiating in games with players who are older than he is, up to under-23 level, and women’s national league championship matches.

This has meant he travelled extensively this year and Basketball NZ footed the bill.

His work was recognised at the recent Aoraki Secondary School Sports Awards when he received the boys’ outstanding referee or umpire award.

With his school days finished, Reagan has started working towards acquiring a private pilot’s licence, in the hope of becoming a fulltime pilot.

However, any future flying would be juggled with refereeing basketball.

“I love it,” he said.