‘Go for it:’ Godwin native becomes first woman to officiate NC high school football state championship
With each blow of the whistle in the 2AA High School Football State Championship, Godwin native Christina Snead Thurman made history.
Snead Thurman became the first woman to ever officiate a high school football state championship in North Carolina.
“Being able to play (football) and now being able to officiate it is just fantastic,” she said. “It was totally awesome.”
Snead Thurman put on the stripes 15 years ago. She hopes to encourage other women who work in sports to feel empowered and “go for it.”
Snead Thurman said she began officiating because of a challenge in her personal life.
“I actually got into it because of what was going on with my son at the time,” she said.
She experienced complications during her pregnancy.
“My son’s brain was injured at birth, so it was hard for me to not bring him home,” she said. “I had to drive two hours to see him.”
Her son, Brandon, survived, but she still drives two hours to visit him multiple times a week at a health care facility in Greenville.
“I got into sports to preoccupy my mind to stop it from thinking about not being there with him,” she said.
Officiating came naturally to Snead Thurman, but as about 94 percent of football officials are men, she said she has faced sexism on the sidelines.
“(I’ve heard,) ‘You need to take your tail home,’ ‘you don’t know what you’re doing,’ you don’t know how to call a football game,’ ‘you don’t know what you’re doing,’” she said
But Snead Thurman said she doesn’t let it bother her, and she remains confident in her abilities.
Her favorite part of officiating is being part of a team.
“I had a crew that actually stood by me, and I felt like nothing could go wrong. They always had my back,” she said.
She said official Tony Haire is one of the people who supported her.
“I think it’s important for women to be on the field, and then more young girls will see them working,” Haire said
Snead Thurman said she hopes women will feel empowered to succeed in all industries, especially sports.
“I think more women can get involved because it’s predominant male. Being female, we’re expanding everything, so why not football?” Snead Thurman said.