It’s the most ‘thankless’ job in sports, but somebody’s gotta do it. (How about you?) – Hawaii News Now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The shortage of sports officials across the country is beginning to impact play — and the problem is only getting worse.
But one Maui athlete is stepping up, hoping to make a positive change.
Cheyla Vega Mishima has been playing basketball her whole life. Born into a family of ballers, she started playing competitively in elementary school and has even played semi-prof. “I love the competitiveness in basketball. I love the lessons and the blessings in basketball,” she said.
That’s why she gives back to her community by offering free clinics for youth.
She’s also now training to become one of the only female basketball referees on Maui.
“I didn’t grow up privileged so I wanted to give back because they’re the next generation,” she said.
“They’re very important. You’re looking at other women, you’re like, maybe I want to be like that someday, strong, courageous, bold, focused, determined. These are all important things that when you hear other women talking about it inspires you, and it lights a fire and a passion within you.”
It’s passion like that the Maui Interscholastic League Executive Director Joe Balangitao hopes will encourage others to do the same. He says the leaque is facing major officials shortages in most sports — from football and basketball to baseball, wrestling, volleyball, water polo and track.
He says the rapid decline is because it’s a “thankless job” — that’s only getting worse.
It’s something Thomas Salahub is all too familiar with.
The head of officials at Maui AAU Basketball said someone once broke the headlamp on his motorcycle. “It was pitch black and like around 9 p.m. and I lived 20 miles away,” he said. “So how was I gonna get home with no headlamp?”
According to a 2022 survey, about 50,000 people nationwide stopped officiating since 2019.
And the National Association of Sports Officials reports more than 70% of new referees quit within the first three years.
Salahub has been officiating since the 1990s.
He says it’s his love for the sport — and his community — that keeps him going.
“If you love sports, then officiating is a great way to be involved in sports,” he said.
Both Salahub and Mishima hope their stories inspire fans to be a little more kind. They also want to encourage others who love sports to give officiating a try.
To sign up to be an official, go to or call (808) 205-8336.
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