Sharlanda Demingo’s long-range goal includes being part of the Ohio State-Michigan game someday, or perhaps even the Super Bowl.
At the moment, though, Demingo is a football referee working NCAA Division II games who is intent on improving her craft. That’s why she was at the Ohio State spring practice Monday, one of 50 lower-level officials taking part of a diversity clinic sponsored by the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference.
“Everybody wants to get to the NFL; everybody wants the Ohio State-Michigan game. Who wouldn’t?” Demingo said. “But my main goal is to be the best official I can be … wherever I’m at.”
Steve Shaw, supervisor of officials for the SEC, and his Big Ten counterpart Bill Carollo were on hand to direct the clinic, which included meetings, on-field practice work and time with OSU coach Urban Meyer.
“It was really focused on people that needed development, needed an opportunity, mainly minority candidates including women,” Shaw said. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to learn, to grow, progress, and then us get a look at them.”
The two leagues combined on a similar clinic last year at Vanderbilt, he said.
“What we found last year is there is a lot of great talent out there,” Shaw said. “It’s been a great process for us.”
Shaw’s and Carollo’s eyes are open for capable candidates. As Carollo pointed out, in the NFL now there is a woman working as an on-field official and another in the replay booth. The Mid-American and Missouri Valley conferences, which he also supervises, had three women in their rotation last season, he said.
“It’s tough because it’s kind of a guys’ world, and it takes a lot of experience” to gain expertise and attention, Carollo said. “You don’t have to play for 10 years to be a good official; sometimes you don’t have to be a player to be a good coach, but it helps because you can speed the learning curve.”
The clinic helps accelerates the process, though, bringing in candidates from across the country. “If they’re pretty good, we’re gonna find them,” Carollo said.
No record ahead
Ohio State’s spring game last year drew a national record crowd of 100,189. That won’t be beaten Saturday. There will be no seating on the east side of C deck because of refurbishing work being done, so capacity will be about 84,000.