EVERYONE across the basketball landscape strives to reach the peak of their sport.
There is such joy in knowing you’ve earned your place at the top of the tree.
To reach the NBL and officiate in the biggest game in town stands out to all referees.
And for Daniel Battye, who started life on the sidelines at Knox, and Mitch Hare, from Eltham, they’ve put in the hard yards to make it to the top.
It’s not about the Australian pinnacle being the end of the journey though; there is plenty you can only learn at the top and there’s always international basketball to look towards too.
But to reach the NBL Panel is an achievement both men felt privileged to attain.
“I am very humbled to be given this opportunity and hope to make the most of it,” Battye said. “The hard work really starts now. For me, I am really keen to continue and learn and develop as both an official and a person.
“Being on the panel does not mean we will necessarily get games on court, but it does mean we will get exposure to the most elite officials in the country.
“We also get access to some of the best referee coaches and educational material available, so I just want to continue to develop and improve.
“When I received the news that I was going to be included in the 2017-18 NBL Panel, I reflected and realised that it has been 18 years in the making to get to this point – it can be a long and challenging journey.”
For Hare the feeling stands out to him – having 15 years of hard work on the sidelines turn into such an incredible opportunity.
“Honestly, it is absolutely surreal,” Hare said. “Growing up in Victoria, there have been plenty of better referees than myself, at this point in time in my career, who never made it on to NBL due to many different factors over the past 15-20 years.
“So I am very humbled to have the chance to referee the pinnacle of basketball in Australia and excited to show that the faith which has been put in me was well placed.”
Both starting their time in refereeing near the turn of the century, Battye and Hare both rose up fast.
Moving up the ranks progressively – from 1B, 1A to Victorian Junior Panel, BIG V and eventually SEABL, the big moments started to happen for Battye and Hare when WNBL Panel was offered up and the elite national refereeing began.
“I started refereeing in 1999 at Knox and completed a referee course run by Neil Black,” Battye said. “My interest in officiating actually stemmed from football… but in about 2002 I decided that refereeing basketball was more challenging.
“In 2005 I was awarded my Level 2 referee grading, which really kick started my progress,” Battye said. “That was always my goal from the point I started refereeing so it was time to reassess how far I wanted to take refereeing.
“Following on from that, I joined the Victorian Junior Panel under the guidance of Lexie Lattanzio and went on to referee finals at the Classic and well as medal games at the Under 14s, 16s and 20s Australian Junior National Championships and gave away football umpiring to progress my refereeing further.”
Hare’s pathway into refereeing was an all too familiar story in officiating circles. He reached the peak of his playing ability and wanted to cash a couple of cheques along the way.
But refereeing has a way of keeping people involved, active and interested… eventually pushing the money to the back of his mind and
“I was a part of low end representative teams in U18s and refereeing was a way to make money when I was 14, I didn’t really have any aspirations other than to make some money,” Hare said. “Once I realised that I would never get anywhere with my playing ability I started focusing more on my coaching and refereeing, after coaching for almost a decade I decided that I would focus on refereeing.
“Even though my love of coaching was probably as strong as refereeing I made the choice to referee because you can only referee for so long physically where coaching in my opinion is less physically taxing.
“The plan is to once I hang up the boots refereeing is to go rejuvenate my love for coaching.”
Highlights along the way have been consistent for the pair, including his selection in an under-20s Gold Medal Game and the SEABL Women’s National Grand Final in 2016 with one of my best mates Elliot Green, who was in the same beginners referee school with me at Eltham Basketball Club in 2002 and who I have grown up and moved through the leagues with for the last 15 years.
Hare’s elevation to the WNBL panel alongside his best mates Green and Andrew Hollowood also stands out as the journey – and the people you meet along the way – matter just as much as results and achievements.
Hare’s thrill in receiving the elevation to NBL Panel comes from the opportunity to learn. To absorb the cumulative knowledge the best in the country have to offer is a massive drawcard for him.
He’s set his sights on an NBL debut but just wants to take what he can as the season progresses.
“I am extremely excited to work with the best referees in the country and learn from the guys who have truly made it to the absolute pinnacle of the refereeing in the world, at the Olympic Games and World Championships, in Scott Butler, Vaughan Mayberry, Scott Bekker and Michael Aylen,” Hare said. “I hope to take away as many learnings as possible and take my refereeing to the next level – Already the work I have done with the Michael Aylen and Scott Butler in the NBL ERP over the past six months has been outstanding and I feel has helped my refereeing exponentially.
“However I have so much to still learn and the NBL Blitz showed me how large the jump to the NBL really is… I am hoping to do a single game and go from there as nothing is guaranteed.”
Mitch Hare wanted to thank the people along the way who helped him get to this point in his refereeing career. The likes of Steve Chadd, Lexie Lattanzio, Anthony O’Brien, Murray Sydenham and thanks to those along the way who have run leagues in which helped him improve – Big V’s Alan Garraway, SEABL’s Tim Mills and Peter Carey as well as Junior Panel’s Lattanzio and O’Brien.
Battye wanted to thank Lexie Lattanzio, Alan Garraway, Michael Aylen and Anthony O’Brien as well as Neil Black, Wendy Barned, Chris Reid, Mark Quinn, Sue Wilkinson, Steve Piatek and Sean Gottliebsen from Knox.
Also recently announced was the WNBL Panel. We’ll have more to come on this news but our congratulations go out to the following Victorians (and former Victorians!) on the list.
David Baddock VIC
Daniel Battye VIC
Sarah Carey VIC
Michelle Cosier ACT
Tayla Flint VIC
Elliot Green VIC
Justin Hamilton VIC
Mitch Hare VIC
Andrew Hollowood VIC
Jason Kelly VIC
Kahli Symons VIC
Feature Images: Steve Blake/Akubra Photography and Ian Knight Photography
DANIEL BATTYE AND MITCH HARE’S TIPS FOR UP AND COMING REFEREES
Referee as many games as possible. The more you practice, the more exposure you get, the more experienced you will become. Practice your craft.
Know the rules and ask for feedback. The most important aspect of refereeing is to keep improving.
Be your harshest critic. Self-assess your own performance as no one knows yourself as well as you do. You need to be honest with yourself and your performances as this is how you will improve.
Get in the gym, look after yourself, your physical health and appearance are one of the most important things. The fitter you are, the better positions you can get to get the right call. If you are fatigued and panting when you get to your spot, you more likely to make the incorrect call. We need to work as hard as the athlete’s!
Be in the moment, enjoy the game you are doing and work hard on the game you are doing. Every call matters.
Don’t take yourself too seriously, the more you enjoy the game of basketball and have fun while doing it you will continue to referee and get better.
Focus on yourself, be your harshest critic, self-evaluate as much as possible, learn but then move on to the next game.