Three games into her NBA referee career, SVSU alumna Jenna Schroeder is still adapting to working in arenas with thousands of fans every night.
In her latest game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, Schroeder officiated a game that included NBA all-stars Kyrie Irving, Brandon Ingrahm and DeAndre Jordan.
“It’s unreal,” said Schroeder, who graduated from SVSU in 2009. “I just did my third game in Brooklyn, and I’m still trying to take it all in.”
Schroeder has had a busy schedule since joining the association. In under two weeks, she has officiated three games across the country. Her first game was in San Antonio on Oct. 23. From there, she had a few days off before flying to Washington for her second game on Nov. 3, followed by her latest game in New York on Nov. 4.
Schroeder said the nature of NBA schedules can put her in different cities every week.
“We get our assignments a few days ahead of time,” Schroeder said. “We fly in the day before the game and then leave the day after. From there, we either get our next assignment or get a few days off before our next game.”
The NBA requires all referees with fewer than four years of experience to also officiate in the G-League, the NBA’s minor league system. Because of this, Schroeder stays busy between NBA games. On Nov. 9, she was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, officiating a game between the Long Island Nets and Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Schroeder said she is lucky to be able to referee for a living and said she did not know what she would be doing otherwise.
“I was a communications major and took classes with David Schneider when I was at SVSU,” Schroeder said. “I ended up getting an internship with a news station and wanted to cover sports but ended up doing a lot of investigative work. If I weren’t reffing, I don’t know what else I’d be doing.”
Although her NBA career is only beginning, Schroeder said her favorite part of the job so far is getting to enjoy the game of basketball up close.
“The best part is having a front row seat to the best athletes in the world,” Schroeder said.
In between officiating games, Schroeder resides in Berkley, Michigan.