At most high school basketball games, those making the calls are middle-aged or older men.

Basketball refereeing has been a predominately male-filled position on the hardwood for years, with few female officials.

However, one woman has gone against the grain since moving to Seymour three years ago.

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Michelle Shattuck represents one of several female referees in the state that sports the black and white stripes on weekday nights.

While she’s in her 30s, don’t let her age fool you — she knows the game and has the credentials to back it up.

In 2001, as a high school junior, Shattuck started reffing in Michigan.

She always had grown up around refereeing, as her father reffed for 30 years.

“They had a legacy program, like they have in Indiana, where they have high school juniors they pair with a referee mentor,” Shattuck said. “I did a lot of middle school games and team camps. I would do two to three games a week after that. I got right back into it when we moved down here. It’s my third season now in Indiana.

“I played basketball in high school, and I loved it. It’s definitely not for everyone. I think my dad really encouraged me to get into it.”

Shattuck said the level of basketball in Indiana is different than it is in Michigan.

“Overall, the level of basketball is better at all levels,” she said. “It’s always the same problems with refereeing everywhere. They are always short, and they have trouble keeping the ones they already have. Everyone is stretched pretty thin between the boys and girls seasons.”

When she first started reffing, some schools didn’t know how to handle having a female on a staff in Michigan.

“A lot of the smaller schools back in Michigan weren’t sure what to do with a female official, such as having a locker room,” Shattuck said. “I would get thrown into some weird places — mechanical rooms, wash rooms, things like that.”

In Indiana, Shattuck doesn’t know many other female referees.

“I’ve only met two female referees here,” Shattuck said. “I think it’s a double-whammy. A lot of guys will see my age and not think I’m very experienced. Then, they see I’m a woman, and sometimes, I get some questions.”

Shattuck, who is married to Seymour High School football coach Josh Shattuck, said some of the other referees have challenged her knowledge of the game in the past prior to games.

“One of the first games I did here, I was asked if I’ve ever done three-man crew before,” Shattuck said. “It’s a fair question, and I said yes and asked if he had. He had made an assumption before asking.

“It’s a lot of older men (refereeing). They are used to a certain way, which there is nothing wrong with that. I’m glad they ask questions. I like to break their preconceived notions sometimes.”

During her busiest season, Shattuck was refereeing two to three games per week before recently having a baby.

Shattuck didn’t slow down while she was pregnant.

She continued to referee games this past year with a baby on board.

“I was a little sore for a few days after those games,” Shattuck joked. “It was fun, though. I got a lot of compliments, and people are happy to see it. One of the coaches last year asked if I would take a picture with him.”

Shattuck said the IHSAA is trying to get more young people and women involved in refereeing, but it has been a slow process.

“They’re trying to aim at women and younger people,” she said. “I just personally don’t think they have an understanding where a lot of people are coming from. There are a lot of older guys doing the research, but really they should have some women and younger people doing it.”

In the coming months, Shattuck plans on returning to the court.

“I will keep going until we have our second child, and then I might take a little break,” Shattuck said. “That will give us some time for the younger one to be able to go to the gyms with us and play around.

“I will probably hold off for a little while, and that’s a hurdle for a lot of women. You have to balance doing something you love and spending time with your kids. I know a handful of women in Michigan who took a break, then never came back.”

Shattuck said she encourages any woman interested in refereeing to get involved, and networking can help the transition into the stripes.

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Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.