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A Trailblazing Referee: How Blanca Burns Is Making Headlines (And Isn’t Finished)

“I can do just as good a job as a man can.”

Those are the words Blanca Burns uttered in an interview with ESPN’s Eric Gomez, serving as one of the main inspirations for her rise in the referee field. Burns has made headlines around the NBA community, becoming the first Mexican-American female referee to ref an NBA game. On December 27, 2021, the trailblazer made history as the San Antonio Spurs took on the Utah Jazz at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Burns was born in the city of Torreón, located in Coahuila, Mexico, but she soon moved to El Paso, Texas, and then moved again to Oklahoma, where she first found a passion for basketball.

This basketball obsession continued to develop throughout her childhood, “Ever since I was a little girl, I always had a basketball in my hand,” she told ESPN. After moving to Oklahoma, Burns went on to play college ball for two years for Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City.

Although her playing career had ended after that, Burns’ reffing career was just beginning. In college and in need of money,  Burns decided to start working at her local YMCA for pre-school basketball games. This was the beginning of a long road climbing up the ranks for Burns.

In 2018, Burns made the big jump into the NBA sphere when she earned a stint as a referee in the G-League. There, Burns continued to prove herself. After three years, she was finally called up to ‘the majors’ and given her big chance. Since her debut in late December, Burns has remained an NBA official while still reffing in the G-League, otherwise known as a ‘two-way’ official.

According to the NBA, 42% of the league consists of female referees.

Burns’ amazing feats are impressive and serve as an inspiration to young girls around the world. Burns wants to hold herself accountable as a pioneer in her work field and make sure she remains successful in proving to those who look up to her that they can be just like her. “I need to continue giving myself exposure so that they say, ‘Oh my gosh, if she did it — I can do it.'”

Although Burns has accomplished a lot, her career is nowhere near finished; she is sure to have more accomplishments in store for her in the future.

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