It's not uncommon for parent and child to work together in the real world, even with guards against nepotism in place. Still, the pursuit that has brought Marcia and LaMark Barclay together is a bit different: The pair form an occasional mother-son tandem of basketball officials, working high school basketball games in Northern California.
As documented by the Sacramento Bee, it was Marcia who goaded her son LaMark into giving officiating a chance. A longtime softball umpire and basketball referee at a variety of levels, Marcia Barclay convinced LaMark to work one youth basketball tournament with her in North Sacramento. While the experience was a rough entrance into the world of refereeing for LaMark, after four games he was ready to throw himself into even more.
The rest, as they say, is history. The pair worked a Northern California section final together on the first weekend of March, one of a handful of games the two were able to work together.
That's a contrast to traditional working order for referees. According to Northern California Officials Association basketball assignor Brian Moore, intra-family pairs of officials usually only work together once a year or so, even though he admitted that doing so can bring benefits of cohesiveness.
For the Barclays, the shared pursuit of officiating basketball games provides something deeper: A connection between mother and son that has allowed them to continue building their relationship, long after most parents and children have settled into set patterns.
"Once you become a young adult, you're kind of looking for … what's that connection between me and my parents," LaMark Barclay told the Bee. "For me, basketball officiating became that thing that allowed us to keep developing our relationship."
And while Marcia Barclay admits she may transition out of officiating in the coming years, she said that she wouldn't stop following her son's exploits, which both hope will culminate in LaMark working Division I college games.
After all, what else would a proud parent do?
"She's able to kind of sit back now and say, 'I'm going to enjoy your journey,' " LaMark said. "Almost like she's back to being a mom."
Marcia nodded. "That proud parent."