All-rounder Jordan thriving in higher level refereeing roles
VERSATILE Ipswich referee Jordan Harton was preparing to officiate in this year's inaugural NBL1 North competition before COVID-19 struck.
However, after a "breakthrough'' past 18 months, she took it all in her stride refocusing on other important aspects in her life.
While able to referee in this year's Queensland State League (QSL) bsaketball competition, Harton continued completing the third year of her dual degree in business and law at QUT.
She also recently started a new job at a tax accountancy firm in the Brisbane CBD.
"There's definitely been some busy weeks lately,'' she said.
"Trying to manage uni, work and refereeing definitely has been a challenge some times.''
However, basketball has remained a constant as she refereed in a number of state, national and international competitions before COVID and when play resumed.
"Probably the most exciting game of the past 12 months for me would have been at the end of last year down at nationals,'' Harton said, reflecting on the Australian under-14 boys championships at Ballarat.
"Definitely in the gold medal match there and it was definitely a very challenging game (going into overtime).''
She said being nationals, there was a big crowd cheering to contend with.
Before the COVID shutdown, she also refereed in five 2019 Queensland Basketball League (QBL) games around South East Queensland.
"It was definitely a very big intensity step up,'' she said of the QBL.
"Just how they play, the speed of it, how they analyse games.
"You just have to make sure that you are reading the game and you're trying to stay one step ahead of them.
"It was such a breakthrough being at that level refereeing a lot of people who had been refereeing at WNBL (Women's National Basketball League) and NBL (National Basketball League).
"It's such an amazing experience.''
She said it was enjoyable on and off the court because the other referees had been where Harton was and were keen to share their knowledge on what they had done to improve.
Harton also officiated at the INA Global World Games in Brisbane before the COVID issues. She controlled the women's gold medal match between Australia and Israel.
"That was very exciting as well,'' she said.
With the NBL1 competition delayed 12 months, she enjoyed the opportunity to continue her development in this year's QSL Division 1 and Division matches.
She's hoping to get more games to referee in next year's NBL1 North series.
"I'm just waiting to hear but fingers crossed, especially with this year with COVID how everything has turned out,'' she said.
"Hopefully next year everything goes to plan and nationals are on again and I get to go to that . . . and the NBL1 goes ahead and I'm on the panel for that.''
Being named 2020 Ipswich Sports Awards Official of the Year provided another boost for the referee on the rise.
"It was definitely a surprise,'' Harton, 20, said.
"I was not expecting that at all, especially up against so many other amazing nominees.
"It was good to know all the hard work and dedication that I've been putting in over the years is starting to pay off.
"And it was such a great night as well - how it was all set up and run (by the Ipswich City Council sport and rec team).''
Harton received the recognition for her tournament performances and additional educational roles with the Ipswich Basketball Association and at Ipswich Grammar School.
"I find it very rewarding,'' she said, having been a referee for seven years.
"I love educating, being able to help other athletes and give back to the community and the young athletes coming up that are aspiring to get to where we are.''
Having grown up in Karalee, Harton appreciates working with Ipswich-bred international referee Toni Caldwell.
She said refereeing in a QBL game last season with the highly regarded Caldwell was hugely beneficial.
"Especially because she's been there from the start for me,'' the 2019/20 Ipswich Basketball Representative Referee of the Year said.
Harton said it was terrific having such an accomplished referee to guide her, particularly given Caldwell is also an Ipswich product.
"She's been with me the whole way . . . asking how I'm going, if I need help with anything,'' Harton said.
"She's been where I've been so she can relate.
"She's like 'I knows how you're feeling, this is what I did'.''
Harton said the most satisfying part of refereeing was the many friendships made among the QSL panel of 40-50 officials.
"There are many things that I love about refereeing but for me, it's just being able to referee alongside your friends and just stepping out on that court as a team and trying to work well together,'' she said.
"And when you've finished the game, just being proud of how you've done.
"And there's games where you are not happy with how you performed but it's taking those games and learning from them how you can continue to improve.''
She also loves travelling to different states with her friends when COVID restrictions allow.
"We are all very close,'' she said.
The toughest part of refereeing for Harton is keeping calm when coaches and spectators applied pressure to calls being made.
"It's just tracking yourself that you know what you are doing and just working well with your partner trying to keep each other in the game,'' she said. ". . . and not letting people get to you.''
Harton's versatility is also highlighted in her transition from swimming to basketball.
The former St Mary's College student was a national level butterflier with CYMS-St Edmunds after taking up that sport when she was younger.
Suffering an injury that restricted her movement and balance in her right hip, she found swimming helpful during her rehabilitation.
The amazing progress she made helped her in basketball too when she continues to impress.
"The past few years, coming out of high school, I had to choose if I wanted to continue to swim or to referee because it would be too hard to juggle both of those sports,'' she said.
"I was more passionate about refereeing so I'm going to stick to refereeing.
"I do love swimming but that (refereeing) is what I want to do and I want to keep improving and being the best that I can be.''