Officiating a Big 10 conference game in 1996 did not yield stress for Brad Pressentin, as he has been refereeing basketball games since 1979. But that game was anything but an ordinary day on the job for the Parkland resident.
“I was asked to ref a game between Illinois and Indiana and I got very nervous because I knew Bobby Knight was coaching,” said Pressentin, who referees in seven of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) basketball conferences. “As the game progressed, I made a call against Coach Knight, in which I heard a few expletives from him afterward. “It wasn’t until my fellow refs backed me up and told me I made the right call that I settled in and was comfortable the rest of the way with that game.”
Over the years, Pressentin has traveled to various schools and still enjoys when he visits the University of Illinois because of the elevated crowd involvement.
Now, Pressentin rearranges his schedule accordingly from mid-November until late March when his 50-game, NCAA basketball officiating season concludes.
But before each season begins, he makes certain to follow the league’s officiating requirements of keeping up-to-date on all rules. Aside from passing a traditional written exam each season, he trains physically during the off-season to keep up with the players.
“I have to stay in shape,” said Pressentin, who began his 32nd year of refereeing. “My legs and cardiovascular training have to be prepared for each game.”
Throughout the years, Pressentin has called more than 2,000 games and has certainly earned his stripes. After he played on various recreational, high school and college sports teams for several years, he realized he was not able to play as much anymore, but still wanted to be involved in a fast-paced athletic atmosphere.
That’s where the officiating comes into play. Pressentin has refereed on all levels, including high school games in Wisconsin, and Division II and Division III title games earlier this decade.
“It’s just fun being out there,” Pressentin said. “As a ref, you have to believe in what you call and hustle to be in the right spot. I’ve had great mentors and still love every game.”