New Richmond graduate Jodi Duffe officiates in NCAA Final Four
New Richmond graduate Jodi Duffe has become a highly honored basketball official over the past 20 years.
Her career reached a new peak last Friday when she was selected to work at the NCAA Division 3 Women's Final Four National Tournament at Hope University in Michigan. Duffe worked Friday's NCAA national semifinal game between DePauw and Williams, where DePauw won 59-56. DePauw defeated UW-Whitewater 69-51 to win the NCAA national championship.
Duffe was selected to work the national tournament through a qualification process. Twenty officials from each of four regions around the country were nominated for the tournament. Duffe was one of 12 officials who were selected.
"It was very much a surprise. I did not expect this would happen," Duffe said.
Duffe has been officiating high school basketball for 20 years. She began working NCAA Division 3 games 10 years ago. Two years later she added Division 2 games to her schedule and, for the past six years, she has also been working NCAA Division 1 games.
She said the majority of her games are in Division 3 because there are so many Division 3 schools in Wisconsin. Most of her Division 2 games involve Michigan schools like Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. Her Division 1 games generally involve schools like UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee and Illinois schools like Loyola and Northern Illinois University.
Because of her expanding college game schedule, Duffe stepped away from officiating high school games the past two years. Duffe had gained a pristine reputation as a high school official, being selected to work the WIAA Girls State Basketball Tournament for eight straight seasons (2003-2010).
In the national tournament game, Duffe was given the honor of throwing the ball up for the opening tip. She said she remembers making her first call of the game, calling an offensive foul. She said the rest of the game, "was a blur" because of the fast pace and the concentration required to work a game at that level.
Duffe was informed that she was selected for the national tournament two weeks earlier, when she was working an NCAA regional tournament game at Carthage College.
Duffe, a 1992 New Richmond High School graduate, said she would like to keep officiating for another 10-15 years. She said the sport can be demanding. She put 33,000 miles on her car driving to games around the Midwest this winter.
"This weekend is why I do it," she said. "To have an experience like that was a tremendous opportunity."