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The summer of 1987 marks a pivotal point in the history of the Midwest Minority Officials Association (MMOA). Amidst the hot summer weather conditions, there brewed a frustration over the thought of another upcoming high school basketball season with little or no representation from African-American and women referees. For decades, one could always witness the talents of African American athletes while enjoying high school basketball in Milwaukee. Missing from these contests, however, was the presence of minority and women officials.
Veteran basketball official and former NBA player, Sam Williams, decided to turn this frustration into action. He took this long-standing concern directly to City Conference Commissioner, Jan Doleschal. With his mind made up and a relentless determination to confront this lack of inclusion, Sam entered her office. After a brief conversation, he got right to the point. Sam voiced concern over the under representation and overall lack of inclusion of minorities and women. To his surprise, Commissioner Doleschal agreed. “You’re right, Sam,” she responded. “Now what are we going to do about it?” This unexpected reaction caught him off guard and left him momentarily speechless. But soon the conversation resumed and they began to brainstorm about other individuals that needed to be at the table in this discussion.
Recreation supervisor, Chuck Hinz, and AFY Director, Roy C. Hill, were identified as league managers who could provide opportunities for new officials to work games. High school varsity and collegiate officials, LaMarr Franklin and Steve Voboril, were recognized as persons who could assist in the development of an official’s training program. Community organizer/youth worker, Ronald Fancher, was singled out as the recruiter of perspective referees.
In the months that followed, ground work was laid for Wisconsin’s very first “Minority Officials Training Clinic.” The clinic was conducted at the LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club, July 15th, 22nd and 29th of 1987. Many others added their support, bringing creditability to the training clinic, notably, professional basketball official, Michael Glass, high school officials, Michael Truss, and Phil Galleon and retired official, Curt Robinson. The first clinic was a great success with twelve individuals completing the training sessions.
After two years of successful training clinics, progress still seemed slow and the need for greater representation was still ever present. Once again, something needed to be done. Sam Williams, LaMarr Franklin and Ron Fancher met with Commissioner Doleschal to discuss the creation of opportunities for more African Americans to become crew chiefs in the Milwaukee City Conference. A list of qualified officials was developed.
The list included the names of several African Americans who were already working varsity games – Sam Williams, LaMarr Franklin, Charles Hardrick, Archie Ivey, Orvil Bean and James Trimble. New names were added to that list – Phil Anderson, Ron Fancher,
Charles Hobbs, Willie Lee, Lemon Lowery, Dennis Mandel, Wesley Porter,
and Dwaine Washington.
Sam, LaMarr and Ron met again with Commissioner Doleschal to discuss the list and to explore the formation of the first minority officials association in the state. That following season, the most significant and inclusive change in City Conference basketball officiating history occurred. Nine new crew chiefs were assigned to work varsity basketball. The courageous efforts of Jan Doleschal and the relentless pursuit of equality and inclusion initiated by Sam Williams, LaMarr Franklin and Ron Fancher, opened the door of opportunity significantly for minority officials in the state of Wisconsin.
During the 1989-90 basketball season, several meetings took place to recruit members and form the Midwest Minority Officials Association. The first slate of officers was Dwaine Washington, President, Phillip Anderson, Secretary/Treasurer, Wesley Porter, Vice-President, Lemon Lowery, Jr., Sports Chairman, Sam Williams and LaMarr Franklin, Public Relations and T Renee Carson, Charles Hobbs, Charles Hardrick and Ron Fancher, Membership Committee!