By Justin Sokeland
LOUISVILLE – Alone in Atlanta, a city of 4 million people, sitting on the couch with nobody but his dog to talk with as his future wife worked 80-plus hours in residency, Troy Ramey decided the best way to make new friends was to become a basketball official.
Want hundreds of strangers to learn your name? Pick up a whistle and point. Suddenly, everyone in the gymnasium instantly identifies the man in the striped shirt, asks about his health (eyesight) and mental state, and offers well-meaning advice for future judgments. That’s what friends are for.
When the Lawrence County native got off the sofa, Ramey left his comfort zone and discovered a second sports career. After 11 years of working his way up, he’s now calling women’s Division I games.
On Friday night, Ramey joined Molly Caldwell and Alycia Dukes on the crew to work the opening game of the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star series at Bellarmine. That trio was assigned the game by NCAA coordinator Patty Broderick, who oversees six Division I conferences across the Midwest.
Ramey played at Bedford North Lawrence for two years (1989-91) before graduating from Mitchell in 1993. He later graduated from Ball State as the start of his life journey. Officiating was not on his bucket list.
“Absolutely not,” Ramey said with a smile. “I was shooting threes and yelling at refs. I had people try to get me to do it when I lived in Indiana, but I didn’t want any part of it.
“But down in Atlanta, with time on my hands, I decided to give it a shot and joined a high school association. The rest is history.”
During the day, Ramey is now a realtor, based in the Center Grove area. When the call comes, he can be found toiling on the courts of multiple leagues.
“It’s fun,” Ramey said. “It’s a lot like playing. When the ball goes up, it’s white noise. You might hear something, but you’re focused in and trying to make the correct calls. With the moving parts, with the girls as quick and fast as they are, you have to stay focused.”
Ramey’s basketball background is beneficial.
“We don’t anticipate plays, but we anticipate situations,” he explained. “Timeouts, or if a team is going for a three, or they’re going to foul, things like that are going to come up. So we can put ourselves in better positions on the floor to see what’s going on.”
The challenges of the women’s basketball are similar to any level. The speed of the game requires sharp wits, skills and preparation. The friends in the stands aren’t the only ones evaluating his work.
“It’s staying in shape, just staying in the moment, making split-second calls,” Ramey said. “You have to know the rules, you have to make split-second judgments. We don’t get them all right, we’re human – just like I never made every shot.”